Be Afraid of the North…

The Timberwolves should scare you.

Tom Thibodeau (Thibs) is a defensive minded animal. He coached the Bulls to be a contending team every year, and his roster let him down each and every time. It was heartbreaking to watch the Chicago front office fire him in the least respectful way possible. They held onto his contract until all vacant coaching positions were filled and then released him to prevent him from signing with another franchise in that same offseason. Despicable. Thibs has the most wins as a coach in Chicago right behind the Zen Master himself. Thibs sat last season out and as a fan of good basketball, that sucked seeing someone so talented just miss out on making the league a better place.

This is where every Minnesota sports fan rejoices; because the shining beacon of hope, laden with angelic singing and praise, broke through the bleak northern skies and down came Thibs like a torrent of feverish defense and angry sideline coaching. In an era where NBA coaches are criticized for only being “ego monitors”, Thibs coaches until the final buzzer, and I love it. If you’re a Timberwolves fan, start howling, because you’re about to watch your team put the league on notice.

Where do I even begin? Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT), Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammed, Brandon Rush, Jordan Hill, these are just SOME of the players on this lineup that could warrant their own write-up. I’m really only going to talk about a few of these players, but let me stress this: THIS ROSTER IS JUST STRAIGHT UP DANGEROUS.

So why aren’t they winning?

The Timberwolves have the potential to dominate in this league with the amount of talent they have, yet they continually fall short. Their losses aren’t blow outs and we’ve seen this over the last couple of seasons. Here’s why: this young talent is outrageous, but they need experienced players who can close out games for them. They could benefit from trading just a couple of mid level players who could be utilized to grow another franchise’s future, while securing a veteran player. Reasonable trade outlooks could involve Jordan Hill, Brandon Rush or Ricky Rubio. Ricky Rubio is a hard pill to swallow for Timberwolves fans. He has a strong following up North, but trades deal with real assets, where both teams benefit from the trade. Personally? I think Rubio and Rush could end up in Los Angeles for Luol Deng. Luol is nothing but a professional and he likes to win. Thibs coached Luol out in Chicago and they worked well together. It’s exactly who the Timberwolves need and it could end up being the most beneficial thing the franchise does this year.

KAT has been a human highlight reel this season, and has put up serious numbers where it matters the most. His rebounding can see improvement in 9.2 per game, however, and that stat is absolutely critical to the success of the team. He can’t just be an offensive threat, but he needs to work harder on the glass just like Andre Drummond. Yes, they have different styles of play, but with his size and talent level, the fans and front office should expect more out of him defensively. People are continually talking about KAT in the conversation of elite players, which is where he belongs, but only if he can open up on defense. Zach Levine and Andrew Wiggins are finally growing into their own and are getting ready to take lead of this team on and off the court. Every conversation about Wiggins is whether or not he can fix his shot and improve his field goal percentage. I fear he’ll turn into another Rudy Gay, someone who is explosive and hard working, but just can’t shoot. People are comparing Wiggins to a young Kobe, and they need to stop. Young Kobe was taking on MJ and putting up franchise numbers. Yes, Wiggins has potential, and yes he’s going to (hopefully) develop into the franchise player we all want him to be, but he’s nowhere near Kobe.

Zach Lavine was born to be the most abusive dunk champion in this league. His hops leave people speechless. I really hope he can grow into a franchise guard who can do more than just hop out of the building every night. I like him and it should excite people to know that Thibs is coaching him to be the best he possibly can be. Watch out for him in the coming seasons as I truly believe that he’ll be a superstar in the coming seasons.

To wrap things up, the T-Wolves are closer than any other team to blowing up and taking command of the West, they’re just missing a couple of small pieces that can be found in trades, free agency and the draft. For those of you who don’t know this, the Bulls told Thibs he was wrong in wanting to draft Draymond Green, and instead drafted Marquise Teague…that worked out well…for Golden State. So have faith in him as the President of Basketball Operations. Keep looking to the North for success this season, as I’m sure they’ll piece it together as the season goes on. Can they make the playoffs? I have no idea. With this lineup and their success rate so far, the two just don’t add up. If they do make it, they’ll be battling Portland for the bottom 8th spot.

All stats were provided by ESPN. All ideas, projections and analysis are intellectual property of the original author.

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