I have no idea and neither do you. Next!
But seriously, folks, writing about the Timberwolves and trying to forecast how they’ll be in April is like looking outside the window and trying to figure out what the weather’s going to do on a specific day next April (well, OK, I’m based in Seattle. It’s going to rain.)
Where are they going to trade Jimmy Butler? Are they going to get value back or will it be a fire sale? Will Tom Thibodeau insist on playing Andrew Wiggins despite Wiggins being one of the worst players in the league? Will Karl-Anthony Towns ever break out as a true superstar, and if so, does it mean he finally started playing defense?
So many questions. Nothing makes sense. And that win over the Nuggets on the last day of the 2017-18 regular season might just prove to be the worst victory since Pyrrhus of Epirus against the Romans because it meant the TimberBulls couldn’t just fire Thibs and blow up the team.
But here we are. Forced to make a forecast when the weather could be snow, sweltering heat, a hurricane, or all of the above in the same day.
2017-18 record: 47-35
2018-19 over/under: 44.5
What Even Is This Roster
Wiggins was a negative-VORP guy (-0.4), put up a pathetic .034 WS/48 (numbers consistent with a ninth man, not a starter and certainly not a max-contract player), and 13.0 PER with a true shooting of .505.
Wiggins is bad. Real bad. Spectacularly, “if Carmelo Anthony‘s corpse hadn’t stunk up Chesapeake Energy Arena with the Thunder last year, he’d be by far the worst player in the league” bad.
Guess who Thibs is going to give 3,000 minutes of run to again.
If Wiggins gets hurt, the Timberwolves’ win projection goes UP. Think about that for a second.
But no, the worst player in the league will continue to suck, he’ll continue to be a diva who thinks he’s a superstar, and he’ll drag the Wolves down by himself.
What Can’t the KAT Man Do
Towns is a legit, for real great NBA player. Any Western Conference All-Star team that doesn’t include him has some explaining to do (there might be better forwards and centers out there—it’s the West, after all—but you better have your arguments ready before leaving Towns off your ballot.)
Towns is a 5.5 VORP guy (that’s about 14 extra wins a year compared to a replacement player), put up .230 WS/48, a 24.9 PER, a career-best .646 True Shooting…and even managed a positive 1.1 DBPM after nearly dropping below zero in his sophomore season.
Sure, he’s not a great defender. He’s not even a very good one. But he’s a serviceable one, and serviceable will have to do, especially on a team as bad defensively as Minnesota (27th in Defensive Rating in 2018.)
Speaking of NBA Corpses…
If you thought Melo was washed, watch Derrick Rose out there.
The onetime MVP posted negative Win Shares in 2018. That’s impressive. That’s “he’s the best player on the other team” (to steal a line from Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, describing Lance Stephenson) level.
Rose managed -0.6 VORP, a cumulative stat, in just 420 minutes between Cleveland and Minnesota. That’s worse than the damage Wiggins did in seven times the minutes.
Rose is so bad, so utterly putrid, so completely washed up, that unless it’s to wave a towel as the 13th man, he should not be paid one red cent by any NBA team ever again.
And yet Tom Thibodeau still thinks it’s 2011.
Look, you and I both know that Minnesota is a total wild card here.
But in general, when the one player you have who could help your superstar desperately wants out, you’re giving 3,000 minutes to a guy who is complete trash, and your coach is also the GM and commits basketball war crimes in the front office, this has all the makings of a complete and utter meltdown that blows up the roster and ends with Towns in a Clippers uniform next year or something.
Are they good? It’s Plausible, but I’m taking the Under.