For just the second time since 2004, the Minnesota Timberwolves seem poised to make the playoffs.
Minnesota has consistently been one of the worst teams in the NBA for nearly two decades.
Their lone playoff appearance since 2004 came in 2017-18 when Jimmy Butler led the team.
Most fans know the Butler era in Minnesota did not last long.
They consistently missed on draft picks between 2006 through 2013.
All four of those players were traded away on draft night.
But their luck slowly changed starting in 2014.
All of it has finally culminated in the Timberwolves’ best season since 2017.
Minnesota sits at 40-30 – third in the Northwest Division and seventh in the Western Conference.
And while they may not be a top seed, this team should not be taken lightly.
Timberwolves Discovered Hidden Gems
The engine(s) that power the Timberwolves will be discussed later.
This section is dedicated to the players brought in by the front office that were not big-time names.
Jaden McDaniels was the 28th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
Jarred Vanderbilt was acquired in a four-team trade in 2020 as mostly a throw-in.
Malik Beasley was another piece acquired in the deal.
These three players are integral members of the Timberwolves’ core rotation.
They average 26.1, 25.8, and 25.3 minutes per game respectively.
And have combined to make 198 appearances and 100 starts.
Vanderbilt is a rangy wing who provides excellent perimeter and interior defense.
Minnesota's defense is so awesome. Jarred Vanderbilt is putting together an All-Defense campaign. He's the linchpin of its great schemes.
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) November 28, 2021
Paired alongside an elite shooting big in Towns, he has helped stabilize one of the league’s worst defenses from the past three years.
Beasley, even amid a down year, is a capable 20 point per game scorer who provides instant offense off the bench.
All three already seem like valuable role players for years to come.
And Beasley is the oldest at just 25 years of age, meaning each should only continue to improve.
Multiple Core Building Blocks
The hidden gems are necessary finds to field a winning basketball program.
But stars are the most important asset a team can have in the modern NBA.
It is a big reason why teams are willing to ship out multiple first-round draft picks when one becomes available.
For years, Minnesota just could not find that star to lead their team.
The Timberwolves finally have one, and it may not be who you think.
Towns is a sensational big man.
While he leaves much to be desired defensively, he is an elite offensive talent and maybe the greatest shooting big man of all time.
He is averaging 24.8 points per game while knocking down 41% of his five threes attempted per game.
His friend and running mate, D’Angelo Russell, is a borderline star.
Russell is averaging 18.8 points and 7.1 assists per game while slashing .417/.350/.832.
But neither of these two is the star of this team.
That distinction belongs to Edwards, the first overall pick from the 2020 NBA Draft.
Anthony Edwards and Jalen Green post All-Star break stats in their rookie seasons:
These two are special ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/qDJ78CvJvj
— Eli 🚀 (@KPJs_Goat) March 10, 2022
Edwards is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound shooting guard who is already immensely talented at just 20 years old.
He’s averaging 21 points per game on 64% True Shooting while grabbing 4.7 rebounds and dishing out 3.7 assists per game.
Edwards knocks down 35% of his 8.4 triples per game.
His ability to get his own shot and make tough buckets off the dribble makes him the perfect wing in today’s NBA.
The mini-“Big 3” of Russell, Towns, and Edwards could spark a first-round upset in the playoffs.