Following back-to-back losses, the Minnesota Timberwolves were hungry to get back into the win column on Monday night. Fortunately, Rudy Gobert and the rest of the team delivered.

With the Portland Trail Blazers in town, the Wolves had a good chance to right their recent wrongs against one of the West’s worst. Portland gave Minnesota their best fight, though. Starting the game on a 9-2 run, the Timberwolves found themselves in a hole early. Despite the poor start, Gobert and Co. quickly shifted into gear. Minnesota closed the gap and even reclaimed the lead before the end of the first quarter.

The Timberwolves didn't look back from that point on. As the game waned on, the short-handed Blazers saw their hopes diminish. Powered by Gobert’s offense and contributions across the board, Minnesota held onto win, 119-114.

Timberwolves' Solid nine

After acquiring guard Monte Morris at the 2024 NBA trade deadline, the Timberwolves have calmly settled into a quality nine-man rotation. Minnesota’s sheer collection of talent particularly stands out in matchups against some of the less-fortunate talent pools in the league. The usual starting five of Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Mike Conley, Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels is hard to beat. Add in significant bench contributions from Naz Reid, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kyle Anderson and, now, Morris and you’ve got a dangerous team.

Littered with playmakers, Chris Finch has a series of lineups he’s comfortable employing. At times, Minnesota leans into two point guards on the court with Morris and Conley. Of course, the team also starts two seven-footers. While Minnesota’s defensive identity is firmly established, they offer unique lineup flexibility that other teams don't have. At times playing smaller with Naz Reid at center, Minnesota doesn’t sacrifice too much natural length on the court due to their positional size across the lineup.

This benefit of being able to toggle to smaller lineups may play a pivotal role down the stretch of the season with matchups coming against the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors among others. Unlike those teams, however, Minnesota isn’t reliant on going small. Their size presents a beneficial matchup with the reigning champion Denver Nuggets having extra size to throw at MVP front-runner Nikola Jokic.

On Monday night, all nine Timberwolves played big contributions. With eight of the nine scoring nine points or more, Minnesota’s balanced offensive attack led to a strong team performance. Conley, Morris and Edwards combined to have 20 assists on the night. As a team, the Wolves assisted on 28 of their 40 made shots. Strength in numbers was pivotal in the win.

Rudy Gobert a key cog for the Timberwolves' offense

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) moves to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers center Mason Plumlee (44) during the first half at Arena.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota’s big man is mostly known for his defensive presence on the court. However, Monday night was an offensive outpouring for the running favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. Rudy Gobert completely manhandled Portland’s bigs all night. The Frenchman controlled the glass with 16 rebounds and rocked the rim all night long. Finishing with an astounding 25 points, Gobert’s efficiency rang through.

His 9-of-10 shooting performance was coupled with a strong 7-7 night from the free throw line. Gobert’s efforts equated to a 95.6% true shooting percentage as Portland just did not have an answer for the French big man. Starting the game with a ferocious put back jam and trickling in seals, post-ups and lob dunks along the way, Gobert’s pressure on the rim was undeniable.

Of course Gobert’s legacy lies within his shot-blocking, rim deterrence and ability to anchor a team defense. There's no denying that. Nights like Monday though serve as a great reminder to what he does on the offensive end. A selfless screen-setter, huge lob threat from the dunker spot and a magnificent roller, Gobert feasts when hit with timely passes. As Minnesota continues to search for an offensive identity, the more involved Gobert is, the better.

Whether that be through set plays, pick and rolls, or on the offensive glass, a productive Gobert can change Minnesota’s offensive outlook.