At the end of this year’s All-Star break, the happiness surrounding Karl Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves were finally released. Towns is coming off a victory in the three-point contest, and the All-Star Game was exciting again with the new format. Additionally, Flip Saunders’ vision achieved some semblance of fruit with the assembly of cities, Zach LaVineand Andre Wiggins they all play on the same team.
The smile on Towns face is a refreshing sight. KAT’s struggles on and off the court have been well documented since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The young superstar has been to hell and back. But success is finally returning as we enter the third quarter of the 2021-22 NBA season.
However, this success has a different energy this season. Towns has never been one to shy away from his individual accomplishments. But hey, this looks like the season where the Timberwolves franchise plays a big part in giving KAT a raison smile.
It’s a new concept. There are few franchises with such deep-rooted organizational dysfunction as Wolves. Its history is littered with super-talented executives and personalities who grew impatient and demanded a trade or left with a bitter taste in their mouths. Kevin GarnettThe dispute with future former owner Glen Taylor is well documented. Kevin Love sought greener pastures after getting a little taste of performing talentedly at the 2012 Olympics. And Ricky Rubio was shipped twice by self-centered CEOs. These are not the only cases.
As rumors swirl and superteams rumble behind thinly veiled doors of tampering, Towns remained resolute about his commitment to Minnesota and this community. Now it is finally starting to pay off.
Leaving the past aside, this is the season when the vision begins to materialize. At the All-Star break, Wolves are 31-28, two games shy of the preseason Vegas over-under of 32.5 wins. There is a slim chance of getting that coveted sixth seed. However, the more likely scenario is for Minnesota to hang on to the seventh or eighth seed for a playing berth, theoretical games the Timberwolves would have to win comfortably to give themselves their first legitimate playoff appearance. since the 2017-18 season.
Minnesota’s continued success is primarily due to Towns finally healthy marriage to the rest of the roster. General managers in years past have tried unsuccessfully to put together a cohesive roster of guys who can, at a bare minimum, knock down open shots in the wake of Towns gravity. This season’s assemblage of talent, personalities and bench production plays a big part in this newfound success.
Talent acquisition is one thing, as the 2017 hit trade showed to bring Jimmy Butler in the city. But that’s not viable if those players aren’t compatible on and off the pitch. We’ve seen teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers crumble this season when they were turning points for All-Star caliber talent. Fit matters a lot more than people give it credit for in the modern NBA, and the concept of fit helps propel the Timberwolves to that success.
Go out and get one of the best pick-and-roll point guards in the league D’Angelo Russel was the first step towards achieving this adjustment. Despite his immense talent, Wiggins would never fit into this team like Russell did. It also helps that Russell and Towns have their lifelong friendship to ensure there would be no locker issues. Keeping KAT happy started with this craft.
Picking Anthony Edwards with the first overall pick in 2020 was the next step. His engaging personality and tough mindset have and will go much further in building a model of lasting success than LaMelo ballhis talent. Edwards is one of those rare players who leads without realizing it; some call this the “it” factor. Either way, Edwards has it, and he’s the perfect young talent to put alongside Towns for the foreseeable future.
The on-field fit between Edwards and Towns couldn’t be better either. As Towns regularly draws multiple defenders towards him, this paves the way for Edwards to use his hyper-athleticism to get to the hoop. The offensive hydra of Towns, Russell and Edwards is enough to score points on any team. The Timberwolves still have the league’s best offense in the last 15 games through Feb. 18.
Add the robust and recently expanded Patrick Beverly to the mix, and it’s the most complete team Minnesota has announced since the turn of the century. The analyzes support the value of these good vibrations. The starting unit is among the best in the league and the bench unit has started to come to life in this final turn of the season.
Of course, there are still problems. But Minnesota gives KAT a reason to smile. He’s a young man who’s never been shy about disclosing his connection to his emotions, and his happiness is the key to unleashing his talent. Towns ridiculous 24.4 ppg and 9.7 rpg while shooting 40.9% from 3 is no accident. Towns without links fall in love with basketball again. It’s a problem for the rest of the league.
Winning fixes everything. It is with open arms that Timberwolves fans welcome a Happy Towns. The change of pace in encouraging a team that is doing the right things is good for morale at all levels. If that success and goodwill continues through the playoffs, the sky is the limit for this young and hungry Wolves side again.