Can the Timberwolves Turn Things Around?

A deep dive into an underwhelming season and what the future could hold

Jordan Pagkalinawan
Boundless & Ballin’
5 min readJan 7


Image via Dunking with Wolves

When the Minnesota Timberwolves initially traded for Rudy Gobert, everyone expected them to boost into contender status. Gobert would ease the load off of Karl-Anthony Towns, KAT would dominate at the power forward slot, Anthony Edwards would continually improve into a force to be reckoned with, and D’Angelo Russell would bounce back and keep it all running smoothly.

Fast forward to around the middle of the season, and Minnesota is now 19–21 and 11th in the West. While most of the aforementioned players are doing well (which I’ll get into later), it’s clear that the Wolves are still underachieving, and as big man Naz Reid told reporters, “[The players] know why.”

The Stats

At the time of writing, here are the stats for the Wolves’ four key players:

Anthony Edwards: 23.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.4 APG; 46% FG, 36% 3PT, 74% FT

Karl-Anthony Towns: 20.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 0.7 BPG; 51% FG, 33% 3PT, 89% FT

Rudy Gobert: 13.9 PPG, 11.9 APG, 1.4 BPG, 0.4 APG; 68% FG, 67% FT

D’Angelo Russell: 17 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.4 APG; 46% FG, 35% 3PT, 85% FT

From that standpoint, things appear to be normal. KAT is putting up less points per game than seasons past because of Edwards’s emergence and Rudy’s role in the team’s offense. Ant has consistently improved as a scorer, and, according to team rumors, he has all the makings of a franchise player. Russell’s scoring has decreased since his 23 PPG season in 2019–20, but his assist numbers have been on par with his career average of 5.7. And Gobert has been able to make a dent in the team’s offense with his typical double-double statline.

Defensively, the Wolves are around the middle of the pack with the 14th-best rating in that department (112.8). Gobert has remained a solid defensive anchor while Ant is averaging a career-best 1.7 swipes a night and KAT is putting up 0.8 steals and 0.7 blocks per game.

According to Basketball-Reference, the team has the 22nd strongest schedule, and most of their 21 losses have come against top teams, such as the Warriors, Sixers and Celtics. They have maanged to rack up some impressive wins against top competition as well, staving off the Clippers, Heat and Cavs, to name a few.

Trade Rumors: Is Russell Gone?

One of the recent dominant storylines from the Wolves has been their future with D’Angelo Russell. His name has been in trade talks for quite a while now, and recent events — including him unfollowing the Wolves on social media — suggest a move could come in the not-too-distant future.

Mike O’Hagan, who writes for the Timberwolves SBNation blog, Canis Hoopus, asked fans who they would want as the primary point guard for the Wolves moving forward. 38% wanted Edwards to fully gain the keys to the offense, 21% wanted “someone not on the roster” to handle those responsibilities, 17% said Kyle Anderson (positionless basketball, amirite?), 15% Jordan McLaughlin and Russell at dead last with 8% of the vote.

A few weeks ago, rumors surfaced that the Miami Heat had interest in acquiring the 26-year-old point guard.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst speculated on his podcast that both sides could swap guards — D’Lo for Kyle Lowry (excerpt posted to Reddit):

“I’ll just say this as a hypothetical — one player that I have thought about: Could they call Miami and get Kyle Lowry? Because he’s the type of veteran guy that I think would really help them, and I think the Heat might be interested in getting out from under that contract.”

Lowry is currently on the second year of his three-year, $85 million contract, while Russell is on an expiring deal making $31 million this season. It has become increasingly clear the Wolves do not intend to make Russell the franchise point guard, and adding a legit 3-and-D guard would solve a problem or two. On the other side, the Heat moving Lowry’s massive contract would help them out for next season, especially if they want to get under the luxury tax. With both teams underperforming, changes could definitely be in order, and a deal around these two could be mutually beneficial.

What Else Can be Done?

There haven’t been any other Timberwolves involved in trade rumors, but one method to improve could involve parting with the aforementioned Naz Reid:

Outside of Reid and Russell, the Wolves mostly have players on smaller contracts that could be used as fillers in trades. One of the only other players making more than $5 million this season is veteran wing Taurean Prince, whose 38.5% shooting from three ranks third on the team (fourth if you count Nathan Knight shooting 2-of-5 from distance this season). Additionally, most of the players on significantly smaller deals have been key rotational guys, such as Prince, Kyle Anderson and Jaden McDaniels — players Minnesota would surely be reluctant to move. However, there are not a ton of avenues to go with outside of trading Russell and/or some of those rotational players in hopes of improving and garnering future assets.

GM Tim Connelly will have to figure out something fast if he wants the Wolves to get back on track. But, what about the situation as it stands right now?

If Nothing Else Happens…

Despite all of these rumors clouding Minnesota, there’s still hope that they could turn things around as the season continues. Rudy Gobert, despite a disappointing start, is optimistic about his improvement, as he told The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski:

“I don’t think we’ve seen the best Rudy yet. I’ve been putting in a lot of work. My teammates are sticking with me. The coaching staff is sticking with me. And I know that it’s going to pay off. It’s a long season.”

The team’s latest winning streak could be just what they needed to really turn the tables. In that span, the Wolves have held their opponents — the Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Clippers — to 110.7 PPG, according to StatMuse. They have also scored 121 PPG in that span while shooting 53% from the field, nearly 37% from deep and 76% from the free-throw line. Edwards has led the charge with averages of 22 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 4.3 APG.

Their upcoming schedule holds a couple softballs — lottery-bound teams such as the Rockets and Pistons — but also a few tough tests in the Suns, Cavs and Jazz. If their recent play is an indication of anything, it’s that the players don’t back down from anyone, and they will need to maintain that mentality and stay on the same page if they want to improve as a group.

Ultimately, the Timberwolves still have a long road ahead if they want to meet and exceed expectations placed on them. Whether trades get made or the current group stays on this hot streak, all eyes will remain on Minnesota for the rest of the season. It’s up to the players, coaches and front office to respond accordingly and put the “win” in “Twin Cities.”



Jordan Pagkalinawan
Boundless & Ballin’

Top Writer in NBA & Sports. Student journalist & podcaster. Social media manager at PerThirtySix & contributor for Last Word on Hoops & YRMedia. Emerson ’26.