The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Best Season: 2004

The Minnesota Timberwolves might just be the worst franchise in NBA history. They have just nine playoff appearances in 32 seasons. The best regular-season record they’ve ever put up was 58-24; they have, on the opposite end of the standings, put up 24 wins or fewer 12 times—if you throw out the last two seasons shortened due to COVID-19, you still get 10 failures to go even 25-57, which is one more complete disaster than the franchise has playoff appearances. Since 2004, the team has been to the playoffs just once—they were the 8 seed in 2018, had to beat …

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The 2021 Minnesota Timberwolves: A Living Worst-Case Scenario

Remember the lead-up to the 2020 NBA draft, when people were openly questioning whether Anthony Edwards had the makeup mentally to be a contributor to a pro team and whether he cared enough about the game to be any good? Or remember the many, many times stat nerds with media mouthpieces pointed out that Ricky Rubio is one of the worst-shooting point guards of the past 40 years? Or maybe the chorus of voices who looked at his time with Andrew Wiggins as his best teammate as a sign that the career of Karl-Anthony Towns was going nowhere fast? Or …

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LaMelo Ball’s Insanely Low Floor Will Kill the Timberwolves

(Ed. note: This was written before the 2020 Draft. Ball went third overall to the Charlotte Hornets, and all the same comments about his low floor apply to them as well.) LaMelo Ball has been a curious prospect ever since his idiot father LaVar pulled him out of high school for a barnstorming tour of Europe and Australia in lieu of a proper basketball education either in the NCAA or in a legitimate Euroleague team’s youth program. That’s not to say Ball can’t…well, ball, but like his brother Lonzo Ball there are serious questions that remain unanswered about whether the …

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Does Andrew Wiggins Have a Most Improved Player Case?

How bad does someone have to be where “minimum acceptable level of competence” is so much of an improvement that we celebrate it like a superstar making a leap into the elite? Andrew Wiggins is posting .090 WS/48, 1.1 VORP/82, a 1.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus, and (let’s roll with it) a 19.4 PER. In other words, “not total crap.” Not good, not by any reasonable standard for a guy making a max post-rookie extension, and certainly not enough to elevate the woeful 10-16 Timberwolves, losers of eight in a row and none by even two possessions (the smallest margin of …

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Are the 2019-20 Minnesota Timberwolves Good?

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 …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary. Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.) If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz. As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should …

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Is Andrew Wiggins the Worst NBA Player of All Time?

Andrew Wiggins is a favorite bugbear of this here site, as dunking on his atrocious advanced stats and pointing out that he’s the biggest reason the Minnesota Timberwolves are hot garbage that hit their peak with a 47-win season and an 8 seed only because they rented Jimmy Butler is fruit so low-hanging that you’d think it was a potato. Wiggins routinely ranks among the absolute most head-scratching wastes of minutes in the league. Consider the following benchmarks: 2,500 minutes played (or about 32 minutes a game over an 82-game season). Here’s where Wiggins’ first four seasons in the league …

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Derrick Rose: Is He Any Good?

Derrick Rose is one of the most polarizing figures in basketball, with eye test fans insisting that he’s the Sixth Man of the Year and statheads countering with “go home, you’re drunk.” Rose drew a ton of All-Star fan votes, but fan vote alone wasn’t enough to get him into the game, and when sensible people got to decide who the All-Stars were, Rose was wisely left off the list. But that’s not the question we’re asking here. We’re asking if Rose is good, and the stats in 2019 don’t care that Rose was MVP once and got a salary …

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Breakfast Special: A Weird, Wonderful Rockets-Raptors Game

In the words of Bill Nye the Science Guy, “consider the following.” The Houston Rockets defeated the Toronto Raptors 107-95, James Harden had 35 points, and Clint Capela grabbed 15 rebounds while Chris Paul had 10 assists, all despite the starting lineup shooting the ball poorly from the field. The bench shot the ball much better, put up big plus/minus numbers, and helped the Rockets to the win. All fairly ordinary stuff, right? Well, that doesn’t adequately tell the tale of a game that at points featured each of the following scores: 25-21 Houston (11:24, 2nd quarter), 49-27 Houston (5:00, …

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Taj Gibson: Is He Any Good?

Defense is a thorny subject when it comes to player evaluation. On the one hand, you’ve got guys like Klay Thompson, who are excellent defenders by reputation but who get murdered in the advanced stats because they’re constantly put on the other team’s best player, and if they’re not quite the superstar defender their reputation makes them out to be, the problem compounds into a point where they have the same advanced stats as the guy who hides on the opponent’s fifth option and can’t even guard him. And on the other hand, you’ve got a guy like LeBron James, …

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