The 2021 first-round pick the Timberwolves traded to the Warriors has top-three protection, so you could make a case that it’s in the team’s best interest to lose as much as possible down the stretch, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. However, the Wolves’ actions at the trade deadline and on the court suggest the team is prioritizing building some late-season momentum that could carry over to next season.
Karl-Anthony Towns has dealt with a nagging wrist issue this season and D’Angelo Russell is coming off knee surgery, but the Wolves have shown no interest in resting those players down the stretch, Krawczynski observes. While Minnesota has hardly been dominant lately, the club has won five of its last seven games after starting the season 14-42.
As our reverse standings show, the Wolves still have the NBA’s second-worst record, but a few more wins in the season’s final 18 days could move them anywhere from fourth to sixth in those reverse standings, reducing their odds of securing a top-three pick. Although the franchise could certainly use another impact player, it appears Gersson Rosas‘ group is content to keep its foot on the gas and to let the lottery balls fall where they may, writes Krawczynski.
Here’s more on the Wolves:
- If Minnesota wins a few more games, it could end up hurting the Warriors more than the Timberwolves, contends Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. If the Wolves finish with the NBA’s worst record, Golden State would have a 60% chance of landing either the No. 4 or No. 5 overall pick. But if Minnesota finishes the season fourth in the lottery standings, that pick could slide as far as No. 8. From an optics perspective, giving up a pick in that range would be far better for the Wolves than sending the Warriors a top-five selection, says Rand.
- Following up on a report that Baskonia guard Pierria Henry is considering an offer from the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News notes (via Twitter) that a buyout with Henry’s Spanish club would need to be worked out. According to Wolfson, who suggests Rosas and the Wolves have long been interested in Henry, there should be resolution one way or the other by the end of the week.
- He still hasn’t been inserted back into the starting lineup following his return from knee surgery, but D’Angelo Russell is showing now why the Timberwolves were willing to give up a lightly-protected first-round pick to acquire him at the 2020 trade deadline, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The newly-healthy point guard is averaging 19.6 points and 5.5 assists per game on .468/.419/.870 shooting in 13 games (25.9 MPG) this month. “My body feeling the way it feels has a lot to do with my individual success,” Russell said.