Timberwolves Notes: Towns’ #NBArank and more…
The disappointment of the Timberwolves’ first two weeks of the 2016-17 season has been well-documented, but there have absolutely been bright spots, most-notably in the play of the team’s young stars.
We’ve recapped each of the disappointing losses and the two blowout wins here at Dunking With Wolves. Along with the rest of the Timberwolves universe, we’ve openly wondered when things would click for new head coach Tom Thibodeau and his young roster, too.
After the 1-3 start through last Thursday night’s home loss to the Denver Nuggets, Brian Windhorst of ESPN Insider’s 5-on-5 debate crew named the Wolves as the Western Conference’s most-disappointing team thus far. And that was before a blowout loss in Oklahoma City on Saturday and an even more deflating defeat at the hand of the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
But after a back-to-back road win against an admittedly mediocre Orlando Magic squad on Wednesday, Wolves fans are already feeling somewhat better.
Part of it is Tyus Jones‘ play after leading the Wolves back court in heavy minutes on both Tuesday and Wednesday after Ricky Rubio‘s injury and Kris Dunn‘s relative ineffectiveness in his opening weeks as a professional forced Jones into a 30+ minute per game role after opening the season as the team’s third point guard.
A lot of it, however, is the continued strong play of last seasons’ Rookie of the Year. Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 21.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and a steal and a block per game during the team’s 2-5 start. (No, we’re not forgetting Andrew Wiggins‘ 24 points per game and 63.6 percent three-point percentage, or Zach LaVine‘s 20.4 points/48.9 percent three-point mark.)
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But Towns is the headliner now, even in the wake of LaVine’s back-to-back slam dunk championships and Wiggins’ 2014-15 Rookie of the Year award. And he’s being treated as such on the national stage, even throughout the Wolves’ slow start to the season.
That’s some serious props for a still-20-year-old on a team that won just 29 games last season, ladies and gentlemen. And he’s just getting started.
The Wolves have another two-plus weeks of a relatively soft schedule, including a home tilt against the win-less Philadelphia 76ers next week and a road game against the win-less New Orleans Pelicans on November 23rd.
There’s also winnable home games against the likes of the Lakers and Knicks, and road games against Memphis (for the third time this season already), Phoenix and the Knicks.
While a 2-5 start to the year is far from ideal, it’s conceivable that the Timberwolves could hold a .500-record as the calendar flips to December.
And given where we stand today, that seems to be a fair goal to have…