I reckon back to the short stint of Jimmy Butler on the Timberwolves and how his arrival lifted the Timberwolves to their first playoff berth since the Kevin Garnett era. I have been watching basketball since 1997-1998 and till this day no one had a legacy like Kevin Garnett did in Minnesota
. He single handedly let his Timberwolves to the playoff despite Stephon Marbury’s departure, they got him some support in Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell both who were on the backend of the careers but Kevin Garnett was able to win the MVP trophy the 2003-2004 season and carried the Timberwolves all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers led by former NBA Legends Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Kevin Love also put up astronomical numbers on the Timberwolves but never got them anywhere like Kevin Garnett did, which leaves us with Karl Anthony-Towns.
Just to touch on the Jimmy Butler situation it was a situation which became sour quick heading into the 2017-2018 NBA Playoffs. James Harden’s Rockets dismantled the Timberwolves rather easily and Karl Anthony Towns was absolutely horrific in that series, no lack of aggression on the offensive end, Clint Capela made Karl Anthony-Towns seem very soft as Towns was unable to physically impose himself as Clint who is one of the best defensive bigs in the game. Jimmy Butler said Karl Anthony Towns had franchise player level potential and raved about Andrew Wiggins’s God given athleticism and natural talent but believed he would not be able to compete against the Golden State Warriors if Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns failed to make the strides needed for the Timberwolves to be able to compete for a championship. Fast forward to this season and Karl Anthony-Towns got his 5 year $190 million dollar contract and Andrew Wiggins still had another 2-3 years left on the 5 year $147 million dollar contract he signed a couple years back which completely shocked me. I never thought the Timberwolves were so sold on Andrew Wiggins’s potential.
Looking at both Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins’s numbers and you’d tell yourself geez these guys are putting up Superstar level stats so why are they 13th in the Western Conference right now? Well being ranked 23rd in the NBA in Defensive Rating sure won’t help and it is pretty obvious Towns and Wiggins are far from elite at defense which is the reason they are not looked at as Superstars at the moment. As far as offense goes Karl Anthony-Towns checks all the boxes as a big man, he has jump-hooks,he has a 3-ball, he’s got solid post moves and decent footwork and is averaging close to 12 rebounds per game the problem is he is not an elite rim protector and his lateral movement is far from good meaning he is terrible defending pick and rolls and is a liability against smaller lineups. Andrew Wiggins has improved his play-making ability along with his ball handling which were two areas of his game I felt he needed to brush up but again defensively Andrew Wiggins is subpar, specially being as young as he is and possessing that 6’7 frame along with a 7’0 wingspan you’d expect Wiggins to be close to an All-NBA Defender. Karl Anthony Towns has a 7’4 wingspan so what is really stopping these 2 from focusing on defense? That small organ in your chest that is beating every second keeping us alive.
Yes the Heart, Wiggins and Towns lack heart and passion for the game and this is something Butler was always critical of when it came to Towns and Wiggins and now it is on full display. They said Tom Thibodeau used favoritism with Jimmy Butler due to being his coach in Chicago for years, and the Timberwolves got Tom out of there. Wiggins said the environment was much better which to me was a shot at both Jimmy and Tom who are now no longer a part of the Minnesota Timberwolves Organization yet I do not see where the Timberwolves are headed. When I heard Gersson Rosas proclaim Karl Anthony-Towns a Top 10 player I bought into it but he said Karl Anthony-Towns was the whole package and we will just respectfully disagree on that Gersson. I saw a couple episodes with Gersson inviting the Timberwolves team for dinner at his home where his wife made lovely lasagna for the team, it was a way of Gersson showing the team they were appreciated in hopes of setting a culture with the Timberwolves, the problem is your two best players lack competitive drive. Does Karl Anthony-Towns want to be great or just very good? Does Andrew Wiggins want to be great or just very good? That is what it boils down too, you need great players to win championships that is just the way it is. And if you don’t have superstars you’d better have a collection of all-stars with some depth which is something the Wolves do not have.
Even if Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins never become Superstars as they are both still under 25 years old and its becoming more and more evident something needs to change. Maybe Ryan Saunders is not the correct coach for the team, they drafted Jarrett Culver but he has shown no signs of being a potential 3rd option alongside Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. Robert Covington? No, he might be their best trade asset in hopes of acquiring a potential 3rd option but something needs to change. I am writing this article because I am fed up with Towns and Wiggins not taking that next step, the organization chose them over Jimmy Butler and they are failing to deliver. I did not expect them to be at the top of the West at this point but I definitely expected this team to make the playoffs this season and for Wiggins and Towns to take the league by storm and that unfortunately has not happened.
To conclude it is very easy for me to point at Ryan Saunders who is probably the youngest coach in the NBA aside from Kings’ coach Luke Walton but Ryan Saunders is not out there on the basketball court like Andrew and Karl are. They are the ones getting paid over $20 million dollars a year making themselves look like bad investments, I mean it’s ridiculous that team is 29th in the NBA in attendance. You know what changes that? Winning. And how do you win? You get stops,you play hard,you never quit,you play your heart and pretend the score is 0-0. Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns need a consultation from former fierce competitors like Stephen Jackson,Gary Payton,Charles Oakley,Kevin Garnett,Shaquille O’Neal,Kobe Bryant. I mean seriously why don’t Andrew and Karl get in touch with those guys? Those were just a few which ran off the top of my head but anyways to cap it off Wiggins and Towns need to be ignited and Ryan Saunders might not be the right coach for that, till next time.