It’s possible that the least talked about good basketball team in the NBA this year has been the Minnesota Timberwolves. They are quietly five games over .500 in the west at 34-29. The TWolves have been especially hot as of late, winning 10 of their previous 14 games.
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A lot of that has to do with the play of All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. He has been playing at an elite level for the TWolves for much of the season. Unlike previous seasons, Towns has a budding star playing alongside him in Anthony Edwards. The combination of those two, with the playmaking of D’Angelo Russell at the point has made this one of the better offenses in the NBA. Minnesota is averaging 113.6 points per game. That ranks fifth across the entire NBA behind only the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz.
As the TWolves continue to fly under the radar, they look to place themselves in the best position possible for a deep playoff run.
Here are my three bold predictions for the rest of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2021-2022 NBA season.
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Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 bold predictions for rest of 2021-22 NBA Season
3. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS PUTS UP MVP NUMBERS
All of the talk this season with regard to league MVP has centered around Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Don’t get me wrong, those players are out of this world. But Towns is not that far off and not many outside of Minnesota talk about it.
This season, Towns is posting just under 25 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block per game. He’s also incredibly efficient sinking 52 percent of his shots from the floor and 82 percent from the free throw line. He is unlike most bigs you will ever see. Towns is also a great shooter from the outside, which everyone learned at the NBA All-Star weekend.
Karl-Anthony Towns won the 3-point contest Saturday night.
He became the first big man to win the 3-point contest since Kevin Love in 2012.
Towns' 29-point final round broke Devin Booker's final-round record of 28 points set in 2018. pic.twitter.com/Kemv7dugPV
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 20, 2022
Towns score of 29 in the final round of the 3-Point shooting competition was the most ever in the championship round.
2. TWOLVES LEAP FROG DENVER NUGGETS TO ESCAPE PLAY-IN TOURNAMENT
Currently, the TWolves are sitting in the #7 seed in the western conference standings. Therefore, if the season ended today, they would host the play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Considering how well the Pelicans have played since acquiring CJ McCollum, that’s not the ideal scenario for Minnesota.
I believe the Timberwolves will continue playing well. They have shown lately that they can play with and beat just about anyone. Over the last two weeks, Minnesota has beaten Golden State, Cleveland, Memphis, Denver and Utah.
The schedule also sets up nicely for Towns and the TWolves. Their next five games are against the Oklahoma City Thunder (2), Portland Trail Blazers (2) and Orlando Magic. Those three teams are a combined 60-127 this season.
The Nuggets are currently two and a half games ahead of the TWolves. Their schedule is much more difficult with games against Golden State (2), Phoenix, Toronto, Philadelphia and Boston coming up.
When it’s all said and done, I think Minnesota will leap frog Denver and escape playing in the play-in tournament as the #6 seed.
1. MINNESOTA UPSETS MEMPHIS, BUT IT ENDS THERE
Assuming the TWolves can claim that #6 seed, it’s very possible they will square off against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. That’s a matchup that has not been too bad for Minnesota.
The teams have split the four meetings this season. Russell has been a scoring machine against the Grizzlies this season, dropping 28, 29, 30 and 37 points against them.
But the difference in this series will be the emergence of Anthony Edwards. He has taken a huge leap this season and is considered one of the more athletic players in the league. Edwards himself has stated exactly what he wants this year.
Anthony Edwards on rivalry with Grizzlies:
“Forget everything else, this year I just want to beat Memphis.”
(via @JonKrawczynski) pic.twitter.com/7BkfPfMoIR
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) February 25, 2022
Edwards was quoted saying “Forget everything else, this year I just want to beat Memphis.” Clearly, there is a budding rivalry growing there. If KAT is dominating the paint, Russell continues to score at will against the Grizzlies, and you get a motivated Edwards, I believe they will stun the NBA and send Ja Morant and company home early in five games.
However, it likely will end there. Despite the recent struggles of the Warriors, taking on Stephen Curry in the playoffs is another animal altogether.
Minnesota will drop to Golden State in the second round but will have earned everyone’s respect.