Phillip Dixon 11/29/2018 Twitter: @PG_Anecdotes
Since the Jimmy Butler trade, the Timberwolves have been counted out of the playoff hunt. I would like to propose that they have it all wrong. The Timberwolves will make the playoffs in the west this year between the sixth and eight seeds.
When Jimmy Butler showed up in Minnesota, I made the argument that Jimmy Butler would stunt the growth of Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns. People would argue with me as if I was crazy. Now if we look at the Timberwolves, I was at least half right.
Jimmy Butler came in with an “I’ve grind to get where I am, and everybody needs to work as hard as I do” mentality. A mentality he pushed on other teammates. A mentality that seems like it would have been more effective in the ’90s and not 2018. The kids who are growing up in this world need a LeBron type leader more than a Kobe and Michael type leader. Jimmy may not have liked it, but it’s just the way it is.
Wiggins and Towns are a product of the soft, coddled, AAU, “kiss the butt of the best player on the team” like many others of today’s generation. They needed a different environment and leader you won’t find in Jimmy Butler. After the trade, it’s no coincidence that Karl Anthony Towns numbers have skyrocketed. Double-doubles every game with ease and doing what he needs to get his team the win.
He’s getting the touches that Jimmy had previously and is running in stride with them. He is the best player on the team and has shown it every game since the departure of Jimmy Butler.
Wiggins, on the other hand, has not taken advantage. Wiggins recently had a 0/12 night with 1 point while Towns put up 35. Wiggins needs to step it up and at least average twelve. He is getting paid to score a lot more than twelve points. Much like we saw at Kansas, he’s not mentally prepared to be a dog in even the most comfortable situations.
As a franchise, the Timberwolves can only hope for the minimum from him and when they get more, count their blessings. The fantastic thing for the Timberwolves this year is that they don’t need Wiggins to be the second-best player. The person taking on that role is a player they have coming off the bench. The former MVP of the NBA, Derrick “From the Streets that We” Rose.
Derrick is back to playing at a high level. He isn’t playing the explosive, get to the rim and dunk over everyone kind of basketball that brought him fame. He is playing a smart, precise, “pick your shots smartly” kind of basketball. Along with this intelligent style of basketball comes with a three-point shot. Derrick is on pace to pass his career high in threes taken in a season, in addition, he is shooting a staggering 47% from three for the season.
It doesn’t look like he is jumping so high in the air he shoots on the way down anymore. The jump shot is textbook, every single time, and it is beautiful. If he continues to put up the numbers, he is pushing he‘ll have a chance to not only win 6th man of the year but also a most improved player. Remember last year, he was in an empty gym in Ohio shooting by himself. We’ve all seen the footage and its crazy what a year of work can look like.
The most important factor in the Timberwolves making the playoffs will be their defense. Their coach, Tom Thibodeau is known for the defensive strategies he’s used since his Boston Celtics days. The last couple years we have not seen Thibodeau level defenses. Well, if you have watched them the last couple weeks, it seems as if something has clicked and the team defense the Timberwolves are playing is beautiful and it can’t be worded any different.
The person spearheading this defense is someone that might surprise everyone. His name is Robert Covington, yes, the same player that was traded to Minnesota from Philadelphia for Jimmy Butler. His individual defense is so good I believe he should be up for the defensive player of the year so far. If you have not seen it yet, check out the Minnesota Timberwolves the next time they are on national tv and you won’t be disappointed.
With this being said, I strongly believe this year is another playoff year for the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you don’t realize it, it might be just because they aren’t on national tv as much so many of you don’t see them as much or you might not know basketball. The Minnesota Timberwolves are much better off without Jimmy Butler and if you are a Timberwolves fan, for can look forward to having a bright future as a franchise.