Wiggins, Towns, Dunn, Muhammad, Lavine. The Minnesota Timberwolves have slowly placed future building blocks in place, constructing the super team of the future. The 2020 Finals champions, are playing in Minnesota.
How you may ask, let’s start from the beginning.
In essence, the 2014 Timberwolves team was slowly retaining hope. After dreading year after year of Kevin Love carrying a squad desperate for ping pong balls, they almost reached .500, going 40-42.
It seemed that they were finally headed for being average again. Minnesota has never been a basketball city, with the only remnant of NBA success being in 2004, losing in the conference finals to Los Angeles, the season Kevin Garnett won Most Valuable Player.
That year was not only their first playoff series win, it was also the only year they’ve ever gotten a postseason series victory. After not making the playoffs for ten years, and wielding a success thirsty superstar, Minnesota decided to shake the NBA up in a major way.
The 2014 off-season was headlined by one simple statement, “I’m Coming Home.”
That one phrase spoken by the king himself, Lebron James, was enough to get the whole world buzzing, as James is one of the most popular, yet scrutinized players in the history of sports. It meant that Lebron was returning to his hometown Cavaliers, after dissing them for four years to go win championships with the Miami Heat.
The loss of James four years prior almost seemed perfect for the Cavaliers, for they ended up with the number one pick three out of four times.
The first number one pick, was acquired by luck, directly the year after James left. In 2011, that pick turned out to be the most substantial piece of the Cavs’ rebuild, the one and only, Kyrie Irving, or also known from a series of Pepsi Max commercials, Uncle Drew.
From the moment Irving entered the league, he was a star, and was the first reason for James to come home.
As Kyrie slowly solidified himself as a legitimate centerpiece, James was in Miami winning rings and MVPs.
Over the chapter of the Cavs’ franchise known as, “Kyrie’s development,” they also got the number one pick in the 2013-14 years back to back. The only explanation for that is, Cavaliers General Manager, David Griffin was sleeping on four leaf clovers.
The next two number one picks would end up being a huge pitch for bringing James back, even though they’d go on to not even keep the players.
In 2013, Cleveland selected Anthony Bennett who would end up being a failed project, and the 2014 pick was long anticipated star, Andrew Wiggins from Kansas, both Canadians.
Whispers traveled around the league that summer and rumors were eventually confirmed by several sources; Cleveland was in hot pursuit of Minnesota superstar Kevin Love and understandably so.
The Cavs had just formed one of the best duos in the NBA, and Lebron sought more help to fulfill his long term promise he delegated for his visit to Miami, and that promise was to bring a Finals trophy home.
For Minnesota and Love however, the Timberwolves were in the middle of a ten year rebuild and their star was getting sick of losing.
The only obstacle was that the only condition the T’Wolves had for giving up Love was that they wanted the 6’8, freak athlete, potential filled Wiggins who, again, was the number one pick.
GM, David Griffin was reluctant at first. It would be hard to determine which player would have more value. Griffin had to make a decision: star potential or star power. However, Lebron’s voice is more important than the mayor of Cleveland’s, and sure enough he got what he want.
August 23rd, 2014 was the day two NBA teams were changed forever. Cleveland forming a tremendous “big three”, and the Wolves gaining Wiggins, a franchise building block.
The Wolves also acquired Thaddeus Young and Anthony Bennett, neither are still on the team though.
Along with that trade, the Wolves also had the 13th pick in NBA Draft in 2014, whom they selected UCLA freshman point guard, Zach LaVine. Adding two premier, young talents to an already sharp, young core of Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng.
In the 2014-15 season, Zach LaVine performed very promising year going for 10.1 points per game, 3.6 assists, and 2.8 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins won Rookie of the Year, while living up to the initial hype averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.
Despite the horrid 16-66 record, the play of young guys supplied Minnesota with plenty of hope. They reeled in the number one pick, making history. That meant they were going to be the first team with the past three years’ number one picks.
In 2015, the Wolves confirmed that they were indeed heading for a future Champion when they selected the best rookie since Lebron James himself.
The first pick was Karl-Anthony Towns, hailing from Kentucky. The big man was projected to be a star, but no one could’ve predicted the impact he made right away,Towns went away.
Minnesota ended up with back to back Rookie of the Year’s, with Towns winning it by a mile, putting up 18.3 points, two assists, and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Zach LaVine has shined as well, winning two Dunk Contests in a row, and now showing major improvement so far this season averaging 19.8 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.7 rebounds a game.
The Timberwolves have added yet another possible star at point guard this past off-season. With the fifth pick of the draft, they selected Kris Dunn, from Providence and this guy is going to be a monster given the right development.
The Timberwolves have a platform to be an extraordinary team who can win multiple champions. The reason they’ll be wielding the trophy isn’t just the next super duo in Wiggins and Towns. It isn’t a consistently competent scorer/freak athlete in Zach LaVine. It isn’t Shabazz Muhammad, coming off the bench getting buckets and making posters, and it isn’t one of the best true point guards to come out of college in many years in Kris Dunn.
Head Coach Tom Thibodeau came from Chicago to Minnesota with a record of 255-139, an NBA title as an associate with the Celtics, and years of coaching experience dating back to Salem State in 1981.
“Thibs,” as he’s referred to in the basketball realm, has the know-how and a proven defensively based system that almost took the Bulls to the Finals on multiple occasions, if not for Lebron.
He’s a tremendous fit for the young T’Wolves that have loads of athleticism and young, exuberant attitudes and if he can instill a defensive mindset early, with that kind of star power, this team can be complete.
The Wolves will be 2020 Finals Champions, because of KAT, Wiggins, Thibs, and the savvy front office led by Scott Layden who will continue to supply this future super team with what they need to get the job done.
Karl-Anthony Towns will be the best player in the NBA in a matter of a few years. I think if anyone can dethrone Lebron, it’s definitely him. Towns is the definition of an all-around player, playing lock-down defense all over the court, being a dominant rebounder, jump shooter, finisher, ball handler, and having very competent passing skills as well. In his second year, this year, he’s already posting all-star numbers; 22 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game.
With sidekicks Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, while Kris Dunn runs show, the system isn’t looking too flawed right now.
Don’t believe me? Watch and learn as Minnesota becomes a basketball town, and Thibodeau’s boys become a super force in the NBA.