The Minnesota Timberwolves were the only member of the Northwest Division not to post at least 48 wins in 2018-19, posting a dismal 36-46 record after Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau had a falling-out that led to Butler playing in Philadelphia and Thibs out of a job.
Interim coach Ryan Saunders had to make chicken salad out of chicken…not salad, and he was hampered in his efforts by a combination of not-ready-for-prime-time youth (Josh Okogie), veterans not as good as they think they are (Derrick Rose), and the biggest garbage fire in the league (Andrew Wiggins.)
Even going 17-25 with that vile situation ought to net Saunders some kind of medal.
So…36-46 team is a year older, made no measurable roster improvement, and is predicted to go 35-47, a win lower than last year’s total. Hoo boy, these are dark times for one of the NBA’s worst franchises.
And the team that made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years in 2017-18? It might be 2031-32 before they see the playoffs again. How’s that for a Cardassian trial?
2018-19 record: 36-46
2019-20 over/under: 35
KAT’s Anthony Davis Problem
Karl-Anthony Towns finally missed a game for the first time in his four-year career last season. Five of them, in fact, but that’s hardly an indictment of his durability, more a case of “it’s nice not to be run into the ground by Tom Thibodeau.”
In those 77 games, KAT posted a career-worst .518 field goal percentage but still managed an eFG% of .572 because most of the reason for that raw FG% drop came as a result of taking 4.6 threes a game…and making 40 percent of them.
Towns is one of the best players in the league, and rotting on one of the worst franchises means it’s only a matter of time before Towns, despite being in the first year of a five-year max extension, takes a look at the trash fire around him and starts demanding a trade.
The center (literally) cannot hold here. A guy who’s posted over 5 VORP for three straight years deserves to be on a better team than the Timberwolves. And unless the Wolves get rid of the walking Roland Emmerich movie holding them back (more on him in a minute), all of KAT’s statistical progress over the past four years will erode the way it was starting to for Kevin Love before LeBron James got him out of the woods.
I Cannot Overstate How Much Andrew Wiggins Sucks
Wiggins played 2,543 minutes in 2018-19 and posted 0.6 win shares. NAUGHT POINT SIX.
Ekpe Udoh (!) posted 1.6 win shares…in 320 minutes, an eighth of Wiggins’ total.
Out of the 530 NBA players who played even a minute of basketball last season, Wiggins ranked 350th. He was in roughly the bottom third…and just about everyone below him hardly saw the floor—you have to go down to guys like Collin Sexton and Kevin Knox to find anything near comparable minutes for players who were worse, and those two just barfed out the two worst rookie seasons in NBA history in the same year.
Wiggins had 0.005 win shares per 48. That was third-worst in the league among players who logged at least 2,000 minutes—only Sexton and Knox were worse.
He’s never posted a season with positive VORP. And yet the Timberwolves are paying him $27.27 million this year.
A team full of Andrew Wigginses would be expected to go 5-77. I don’t care how good KAT is. He can’t overcome THAT putrid, .461 eFG%, no-defense-playing worthless albatross.
The only way Minnesota is winning more than 35 games is for Wiggins to blow an ACL in the preseason.
Okogie a Bright Spot?
Was Josh Okogie good as a rookie? Of course not. He shot 38.6 percent from the field and 27.9 from long range on his way to a cover-your-eyes .445 eFG%.
So why did a guy whose shooting was that bad and who actually posted negative Offensive Win Shares end up with a plus-0.1 VORP?
Well, mostly because Okogie has emerged as a solid perimeter defender, and he’s only going to get better since he only became legally old enough to drink on September 1 of this year.
Of course, he’s on a wretched team with completely useless wing help, so that’s going to stunt his growth, but if there is one bright spot for Minnesota, it’s that if Okogie ever learns to shoot, he could be a star.
Look, you all know where this is going. It’s a Cardassian trial. The verdict was guilty…er, Busted…before I sat down to write it, because a team that was trash in 2018-19 with largely the same roster and the worst player in the league logging big minutes is still trash in 2019-20.
Someone either get Wiggins off the team…or trade KAT so he can know what it’s like to play for a real NBA franchise. I’m taking the under on 35 because Jimmy Butler isn’t around to get the Wolves off to a salvageable start. Thibs was 19-21. Saunders was 17-25. 17-25 over a full season is 33-49, and that’s the record I’m predicting for Minnesota in 2019-20.
NEXT: Oklahoma City Thunder.