There have been many storylines during the 2017-18 NBA season, but for the purposes of this article, let’s focus in on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
A lot can change in one season.
For example, Minnesota finished the 2016-17 NBA season with a record of 31-51. Fast forward to this season and the Timberwolves already have 22 wins — and just 14 losses — and they also hold the fourth-best record in the mighty Western Conference.
Needless to say, Minnesota has had quite the turnaround during the 2017-18 season.
Of course, players like Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns (arguably the best young duo in the NBA) have a lot to do with that, and so does the offseason addition of Jimmy Butler. Minnesota also landed Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford in the offseason, three moves that can’t go unnoticed.
While Minnesota is well on its way, this squad still, of course, has a long way to go before it can compete for championships, and this ESPN article explains that perfectly:
Butler understands that the Timberwolves still have a long way to go to turn themselves into an elite team, but the progress is starting to show more than it did earlier in the season. The mercurial All-Star was talking some good-hearted trash to some of his teammates after the game about an assortment of topics, hoping that some of the habits he and Gibson have tried to develop within the group are starting to take hold after another win.
“I think the way that we show you have to play hard on every possession,” he said of what he and Gibson bring most. “We do have lapses, don’t get me wrong, but I think we’re building up to that point to where everybody’s learning no matter what, home or away, no matter who we’re playing against, we got to play hard.”
Monday night offered another sign of growth for a team that wouldn’t have been able to close this game out a year ago. Instead of simply relying on Butler, the Timberwolves got contributions from a host of players down the stretch, led by Gibson. The veteran power forward scored 11 of his 23 points in the final 12 minutes.
There are many factors that play into Minnesota’s turnaround, and the team’s most recent offseason has a lot to do with it. This team only figures to get better as players like Wiggins and Towns continue to grow and perfect their skills. Reminder: Wiggins and Towns are only 22 years old.
Butler alone can lead a team to victory, and he’s only 28 years old. For the record, he’s leading Minnesota in the scoring department with 21.2 points per game.
The Timberwolves added Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford this offseason. Will the addition of so many experienced players be enough to snap a 13-year playoff drought, the longest in the NBA?
While there have been plenty of pleasant surprises during the 2017-18 season, the emergence of the Timberwolves has been a fun one to watch. After all, this is a franchise that has not seen playoff glory in quite some time.
And, as of right now, the Timberwolves have “playoff team” written all over them.