Forget what you think you saw from Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns throughout the 2022-23 NBA season. Let go of the whispers that have crept into the deepest recesses of your mind. Block out the visions of Towns and teammate Rudy Gobert struggling to co-exist on the same team.
It was all a mirage.
The national narrative that described the risk-taking trade that Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly made in 2022, to send four first-round picks and five players to the Utah Jazz for All-Star center Rudy Gobert is flawed. Simply stated, everyone has it wrong.
What really happened
If you think back to actual events of the 2022-23 NBA season, we have four components that derailed individually, but when added together should have derailed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances of competing in the 2023 NBA Playoffs
I – No introductions
While the Minnesota Timberwolves knew that the new Timberwolves roster needed time to get acquainted and build chemistry, that never happened. In fact, the Timberwolves starting five did not step onto a basketball court until the final preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. That was both Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, and that set the team behind in any plans to build chemistry
II – Karl Anthony Tows was lost to 53 games
Despite that lack of preseason prep work, the Timberwolves would have had a fighting chance if they had a full season out of everyone. But the Timberwolves only benefitted from Karl-Anthony Towns for 20 games to open the season, and just eight games to close out the season.
That negated any hope of resurrecting chemistry over the course of 82 games. In fact, it had the opposite effect, and that forced the Timberwolves coaching staff to focus on rotations rather than strategies.
III – Rudy Gobert arrived injured.
The presence of Rudy Gobert on the Timberwolves roster might have had a greater positive impact if he had arrived healthy and ready to go. However, he injured his ankle while competing for Team France in the 2022 FIBA competition, which limited the amount of time that his new Minnesota Timberwolves teammates had to work with him.
IV – D’Angelo Russell sabotauged the Timberwolves
Perhaps the most damaging factor of all was the ice-cold shoulder that former Timberwolves PG D’Angelo Russell extended to Gobert. That dysfunctional set-up, a team whose point guard was not interested in helping out a teammate, lasted until the 2023 NB Trade Deadline. After the Timberwolves traded for PG Mike Conley Jr., the team was far more competitive on both ends of the basketball court.
The KAT came back, the very next day
So many have written off the Timberwolves and Karl-Anthony Towns for the 2023-24 NBA season, that many have begun to accept the assertion as truth. But the Wolves and KAT will come back, just like the nursery rhyme lyrics:
So here we are, in the middle of a nursery rhyme song? Not hardly.
I simply wanted to get your attention. Karl-Anthony Towns has rediscovered his passion for playing basketball. And with that passion, he is once again showing off his elite prowess for the game.
Just watched KAT’s game from this morning against Puerto Rico. Main thing that stood out to me was that this was the first game that looked hard. The matchup put stress on him to not just go out there and hoop but to really execute against aggressive defense — it looked much more…
— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) September 2, 2023
The descriptions are great. But how does he look to the naked eye?
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 1, 2023
Like his old self once more.
What good will that do? If Towns reclaims his former self, the Minnesota Timberwolves will have 3 All-Stars on the roster, two young but rising stars, multiple vital rotational players, and a lot of young talent itching to compete.
The presumption of each and every NBA rumor or NBA Trade scenario presumes that the Minnesota Timberwolves are motivated to shed Towns and his high-paying salary. But if he truly reclaims an above-average season this year, the Timberwolves will finish among the Top 3 in the NBA Western Conference.
Towns is demolishing international competition in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. That is merely the appetizer, as he will serve up the main course for the Timberwolves 2023-24 NBA season.