Still Yelling “Timber!”
The Timberwolves have been chopping trees down for the past 15 years. And by the look of things, they got a lot more trees on the horizon.
2004 was the first time that the Timberwolves went to the WCFs. On the back of Kevin Garnett, the Timberwolves experienced tons of playoff success with him but could never reach the pinnacle.
In a matter of fact, 2004 would be the last time the Wolves would go to the playoffs with KG. They went three years without making the playoffs before giving in to the rebuild and trading KG to Boston where he would win his first championship in his very first season as a Celtic.
Now rebuilds are nothing new in sports, and sometimes they can last a few years before the Franchise gets back on track. For Minnesota however, it hasn’t gone as well as they might have hoped.
From 04'-08' the playoff drought would continue and in 2008, Minnesota would find themselves with the opportunity to potentially select a new cornerstone player for their Franchise. Power Forward Kevin Love out of UCLA would be selected 5th overall by the Grizzlies, but was traded to Minnesota for O.J. Mayo. With this draft day trade the Wolves would now get the wheels turning a bit in the right direction….. until the very next draft.
In 2009, the Wolves would once again have the opportunity to add to their team and further the rebuilding process. Now we’ve all heard the term “shooting yourself in the foot”, well that’s exactly what Minnesota did, TWICE!
Now every NBA Draft a player not from the U.S. is highlighted as the next international star (potentially), that is thanks to players like Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming. So if you’re wondering why Minnesota took Rubio there you go. Flynn on the other hand, was absolutely filthy in college and as a Syracuse fan, I could vouch for it, but I’ll let this do it instead.
Now Flynn had a decent rookie season, but hip surgery would halt any chances of him blossoming into a great player.
Going back to the 09' Draft, what if I told you that Minnesota could have did some damage in the rebuilding process and could have drafted a “Big 3?” Yes we all know how they passed on Stephen Curry with back-to-back picks, but what if they drafted Curry as their Franchise PG and DeMar DeRozan as their SG? That’s Love, Curry & Demar that they could have had in only two years! Makes me shake my head just thinking about it.
The playoff drought in Minnesota would continue and by 2014 the Wolves would find themselves in a similar position. Minnesota would have to trade another cornerstone player as for Love’s entire career as a member of the Timberwolves (08'-14'), they never reached the playoffs with him. When Minnesota traded Love to Cleveland for rookie Small Forward Andrew Wiggins, it only took two years for Love to get a NBA Championship.
By this time the Wolves have not made the playoffs since 2004 and since then, they’ve traded both Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love. As the 2015 NBA Draft approaches Minnesota lucked up and ended up getting the first pick in the draft, again looking to achieve some progress in rebuilding.
We’ve already discussed some of the players that Minnesota passed on in previous drafts, but let’s take a look at some great players they passed on throughout the years.
2010 Draft: Selected SF Wesley Johnson, passed on SFs Gordon Hayward, Paul George & C Demarcus Cousins.
2011 Draft: Selected SF/PF Derrick Williams, passed on PG Kemba Walker, SG Klay Thompson & SF Kawhi Leonard.
2013 Draft: Selected PG Trey Burke, passed on SF/PF Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The 2015 NBA Draft was definitely a HUGE break for Minnesota as they used the first overall pick on Center, Karl-Anthony Towns out of Kentucky. Towns is a super skilled big that can score from anywhere on the court. This would turn out to be Minnesota’s chance to finally turn it around which they did, but it was short lived.
For the 15'-16' season Minnesota would ultimately be starting from scratch in regards to their rebuild. You would think that Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine & Karl-Anthony Towns would be the Wolves future and who they build around right?
Nah. Minnesota had other ideas.
Tom Thibodeau would be named the Head Coach of the Timberwolves for the 16'-17' season, and in his second season (17'-18') he would lead the Wolves back to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
But did he really lead them to the playoffs?
During the 18' campaign, the Timberwolves would do something so detrimental that it would set them back AGAIN for the foreseeable future. Jimmy Butler who was coached by Thibs in Chicago wanted to be traded and throughout all the potential trade offers, Minnesota made it a must to pair Thibs with Butler in Minnesota.
Minnesota would trade Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Lauri Markkanen) for Butler who would lead the Timberwolves to its first playoff appearance since 04'. The wolves would be completely out matched by the Rockets however and was eliminated in five games.
Like I said, this was short lived as the relationship between Jimmy Butler and every one apart of the Timberwolves went bad, real quick.
With Butler now gone the Wolves would go back to missing the playoffs for the next two seasons, with this current season looking to be of the same result.
The Wolves have made it a priority to build around KAT with acquiring All-Star PG D’Angelo Russell from Golden State for Andrew Wiggins during the 2019 season, and drafting SG Anthony Edwards from Georgia with the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Although it sounds good, the Wolves aren’t headed in a good direction.
DLo & KAT have not played a full season together yet, injuries have kept chemistry from settling in, and Ant honestly looks to have a much higher ceiling than DLo, especially if he stays healthy.
So where does Minnesota go from here? Moving on from Karl might not be a bad idea with OKC having so many picks, they could be a potential suitor for him. Current Hawks Power Forward John collins, a player they attempted to trade for at the trade deadline could be someone Minnesota brings in to show KAT that they are all in on building a successful team around him.
Minnesota has already changed head coaches this season, and with the team being up for sale I would not be surprised if the entire roster is overhauled once again to start anew.