The young Minnesota Timberwolves made a statement Tuesday, besting the Golden State Warriors in overtime and perhaps ruining Stephen Curry’s shot at the coveted 73-win mark.
Call it the upset of the season, one more important than most realize for one reason—it broadcasted loud and clear just how good these Timberwolves can be next season.
Tuesday, Minnesota rallied from a large deficit to score a 124-117 win behind 32 points from Andrew Wiggins and a smooth double-double for Karl Anthony-Towns, who posted 20 points and 12 boards. Ricky Rubio only added two points, but dished nine assists in the face of a frantic guard attack put on by the Warriors. As a team, the Timberwolves shot 51 percent from the floor and 47 percent from deep while forcing 23 turnovers, 14 of them steals.
Everyone came away from the game looking great, but it’s KAT who received most of the praise after the game.
ESPN’s Ethan Strauss lead the charge:
Thing that stuck with me: How many guys can do what KAT did to the Warriors? Not sure GSW has a guy to cover him + he switches onto Curry
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 6, 2016
For a more team-based outlook, the Washington Post‘s Tim Bontemps hit the nail on the head:
Unless something strange happens, we’re going to look back at this night as the one the Timberwolves started their ascent.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 6, 2016
One simply has to look at the Minnesota core to come away impressed. KAT will man center well for a long time. Wiggins can float between the 2 and 3 based on lineup needs and how often the coaching staff wants to trot out a Rubio-Zach LaVine lineup. Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng have proven themselves as valuable assets off the bench and try not to forget about notable developmental prospects such as Tyus Jones at the point and Adreian Payne underneath the basket.
Even more encouraging about next year and beyond for these Timberwolves? Not only will the team likely clutch a pick in the top seven of the upcoming draft, NBA veterans who want to chase a title will notice what the front office has built and absolutely consider the franchise as a great place to play.
The Timberwolves can use the draft and free agency in any number of ways. Maybe they grab a starter at power forward or a rotational guy at small forward. Maybe it’s time to end the Rubio experiment, as he’s been nothing short of a disappointment for most of the season, hence his name continuing to pop up in trade rumors, something obvious to expect again this summer.
Either way, the current roster looks like a playoff contender next year. But that’s the floor—the Timberwolves will only improve upon the foundation this summer, making the ceiling one of the best things to look forward to next season. If the rest of the NBA isn’t careful, the Timberwolves could develop into the next Oklahoma City Thunder.
The NBA may have a new budding powerhouse on its hands.