The Minnesota Timberwolves have missed the playoffs in each of the past 13 seasons, while finishing with more losses than wins over the last 12. However, the tide is about to turn, according to our guest, Tim Faklis, who contributes to A Wolf Among Wolves, Wolves Wired and FanSided’s The Step Back. He argues that the team’s active offseason, highlighted by the blockbuster trade with Chicago that landed Jimmy Butler, has placed it firmly in win-now mode. Tim touches upon a wide assortment of topics, including the Timberwolves’ expected improvement and whether or not they should try to trade for the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving. Let’s see if these excerpts leave you howling at the moon:
3:20-4:02: “He [Butler] is not a dynamite perimeter shooter, but pretty much every other aspect of his game is something that they’ve missed, especially defensively. They were the worst defensive team in the NBA by a lot of measures last year. And Butler brings in that defensive toughness that [coach Tom] Thibodeau’s been looking for since he joined the team really… I think part of Thibodeau’s plan is to have Butler teach the both of them [Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins], especially Wiggins, how to work on that end.”
12:02-12:39: “Jeff Teague has been up and down from season to season in terms of his 3-point shooting. The hope is that he’ll be up in Minnesota with guys like Butler, guys like Wiggins, guys like Towns there to initiate most of the offense and him just to kind of bring the ball up and then play. Defensively, he’s a step down from Rubio. Passing-wise, he’s a good passer, he’s a good point guard; he’s not Ricky Rubio in that sense. But I think he fits in Thibs’ system more in that he has played in a successful system where he isn’t necessarily the guy with the ball in his hands all the time. I think that’s the big key.”
13:57-16:05: “[Wiggins] is a potential All-Star, high-level scoring player, and it’s really hard to trade a guy that young, that good, for a guy with two years left on his deal. That’s the other thing. If you trade Wiggins, he’s [potentially] got six years left with the Wolves, but if you trade him that’s gone… It’s really hard for me to envision that the Wolves, from their perspective, would be able to make that deal. I think there’s too much risk with Wiggins’ potential ascension to make that move with how little Irving is willing reportedly to commit.”
23:10-25:02: “I just did a podcast with a bunch of Wolves writers…and we kind of have them tentatively slated somewhere around fifth or sixth in the West next year. Some people—I think this might be their optimism—have them over the Thunder; I don’t have them over the Thunder. Paul George and Russell Westbrook, I think, fit together better than some people think…It’s almost a tie between Denver and Minnesota for me. I love the Paul Millsap signing for Denver. [Nikola] Jokic and Millsap inside together, I think, would be devastating…Ultimately, just looking up and down the West, I think fifth or sixth seems realistic for the Wolves for next year in the playoffs.”
32:45-34:31: “[Towns] is so good at every aspect of basketball offensively. He can handle the ball. He can pass the ball. He can shoot from deep… But in terms of both post defense and help defense, he just has not figured it out yet. A lot of people compared him early on to Anthony Davis, but I think the one big advantage Davis had was that he was just a defensive master almost immediately when he came into the NBA. Towns has a lot of those same athletic attributes, but mentally, I don’t think he has what Davis has defensively yet. There’s no reason why he can’t get it… That’s got to be the main thing that he’s focused on coming into this season and just going forward. Otherwise, I don’t want to call him a perfect basketball player, because there’s only one LeBron James, but I mean Karl-Anthony Towns is as close as you get to a perfect basketball player that’s also seven-feet tall. He’s an insane specimen.”
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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod