The Minnesota Timberwolves were widely criticized in the aftermath of their trade for Rudy Gobert, as many fans and pundits believed that the Timberwolves gave up too many assets just to put the three-time Defensive Player of the Year in an awkward frontcourt setup alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. But with the Timberwolves' success during the 2023-24 season thus far, even moving to 13-4 after their 106-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, it looks like Tim Connelly and company were playing 4D chess all along in bringing in Gobert.
In fact, this season, Gobert's performances have been incredible indicators for the Timberwolves' success; if the 31-year old center is playing well, his team tends to win. During their win over the Thunder that keeps their hopes of advancing to the NBA In-Season Tournament knockout stage alive, Gobert put up 17 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks on 6-10 shooting from the field, and in doing so, continued a perfect trend for the nascent Timberwolves.
According to StatMuse, the Timberwolves have gone unbeaten in four games where Rudy Gobert has scored at least 15 points, which just goes to show how important of a player he has been for the team with the second-best record in the NBA to this point in the season.
Of course, it's not like this means that the Timberwolves should give Gobert more touches; even though they have a 100 percent win rate with the Stifle Tower scoring 15 or more, it's usually a telltale sign that the offense is functioning properly, getting plenty of easy shots at the rim on Gobert pick-and-rolls or perhaps Gobert is crashing the offensive glass with reckless abandon leading to plenty of easy second chance points.
Gobert's calling card remains his elite defense as the anchor of the league's best defense (based on defensive rating); not only have the Timberwolves figured out a scheme that maximizes the three-time DPOY's skillset, Gobert has also been a nightmare to score against in one-on-one situations. As Chet Holmgren's primary defender on Monday night, Gobert held the Rookie of the Year frontrunner to 6-20 from the field.
With Gobert playing like the elite two-way force the Timberwolves traded for, there's no reason to expect Minnesota to slow down anytime soon.