Glimmers of hope exist for ailing Timberwolves Fans

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After coming out of the gates strong and surging to a 3-0 start, the Timberwolves have since cooled down and fallen outside the playoff picture early on in the 2019 NBA season. Losers of their last six and winning just two of their last ten games have brought them crashing back down to earth in the reloaded Western Conference.

With exciting young talent taking over the league in the form of players like Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo (who’s only 25 years old somehow), the Timberwolves are on the very outskirts of the league in terms of hype surrounding the team as well as overall hopes for contention. Even with the team’s decline in the standings, there’s still glimmers of hope that exist amidst what’s almost certainly going to be an underwhelming season.

Karl-Anthony Towns as an MVP candidate has been a reason to believe in the future of the franchise”

First and foremost, the emergence of Karl-Anthony Towns as an MVP candidate has been a reason to believe in the future of the franchise.  At this point in the season, KAT is averaging career highs in points (26.3), rebounds (11.7), assists (4.5), and steals (1.1), all while serving as the fulcrum in the Timberwolves improved offense. He’s easily the best shooting big man in the league, hitting 3 pointers at the astronomical rate of 44%. He’s 6th in the league in total 3-pointers made and is the only center in the top 50 of the category. And while his eye-popping numbers tell a good part of the story, it doesn’t do justice in displaying KAT’s change in demeanor since last season. He has been incredibly confident for the Wolves, shooting step-back threes that only James Harden would dare attempt and making thread-the-needle passes to open teammates that were not attempted, let alone completed, in prior seasons.

All this, combined with his continuous improvement on the defensive end, have cemented KAT’s place in the upper echelon of NBA players and on the shortlist of the league’s most exciting young players.  The MVP award takes team success as the main consideration, so it’s almost certain that KAT will be out of contention for the award by midseason, but his ability to step up and become the on and off-court leader for the Wolves is a sign of good things to come for the long-term.

If the Wolves can surround him with the proper talent, his performance is indicative of his ability to be the first scoring option on a championship-caliber team. Furthermore, the development of Andrew Wiggins is another reason to buy into the Wolves for the long-term. For the past several years, Timberwolves fans have maligned over the lack of improvement in Andrew Wiggins game from his first season in the league, in which he impressed en route to winning rookie of the year honors.

Many people blamed this on a lack of worth ethic and effort on Wiggins’ part, as it was clear that he did not push himself in games, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, he has turned the page in 2019 and started the year by scoring more efficiently than ever before. Through 20 games, Wiggins was posting career highs in eFG%, mainly driven by his change in shot selection from deep contested two-point shots to drives to the room and three-pointers. Wiggins deserves credit for his improvement, but it also must be noted that the Wolves have already experienced great returns on changes they made in the front office (Gersson Rosas) and coaching staff (firing Tom Thibodeau) in the form of a more efficient and modern style of play all around.

Wiggins is also averaging a career-high in assists and is facilitating in a manner many believed impossible even just a year ago; his newfound style of play even motivated new head coach Ryan Saunders to move point guard Jeff Teague to the role of 6th man. While many questions undoubtedly still remain about the long-term nature of Wiggins improvement, early signs this year indicate that with the right staff, culture, and teammates around Wiggins, he could potentially fulfill the potential that got him drafted first overall in the NBA draft. Despite a lack of production in the win column, Timberwolves fans do have reason to be excited about the future of the team.