The Minnesota Timberwolves have been an NBA franchise for 27 years, but they have been unable to produce that much success for themselves. The Timberwolves all-time winning percentage of .391 is the worst in NBA history which can be traced back to their overall ineptitude at the NBA Draft. Outside of getting it right in 1995 in drafting power forward Kevin Garnett, the Timberwolves over the years in the NBA Draft have passed on players such as Tim Hardaway and Shawn Kemp, while also passing on the chance to draft Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry twice in the 2009 NBA Draft. For the first time in franchise history, Minnesota would get the first overall pick in 2015 which they used on center Karl-Anthony Towns. As a rookie this past season, Towns averaged 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds as there is a good chance that he could be named as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. Towns teamed with shooting guard Andrew Wiggins who was the first overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and abruptly traded to Minnesota, to give the T-Wolves a solid inside-out combination. This combo grew together as the NBA season went along, but they were unable to get Minnesota out of their funk and get them to the postseason for the first time since 2004. However business appears to be ready to pick up in the Twin Cities.
In five years as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Tom Thibodeau never had a losing record while he guided the Bulls to their best five-year stretch since the glory days with Michael Jordan in the 1990’s. And although that Thibodeau produced wins, he was never on the same page with Bulls general manager Gar Forman which led to a messy divorce last summer.
Thibodeau could have immediately jumped back onto the coaching train, but he decided to sit back and survey the situation. And with several high-profile jobs becoming available this spring, Thibodeau had his pick of the litter.
The Timberwolves recently met with Thibodeau and they gave him an offer that he could not refuse as aside from having another opportunity to be a head coach in the NBA, he would also become the team’s new president of basketball operations which is the same deal that Stan Van Gundy received from the Detroit Pistons two years ago. And the move by the Pistons has paid off as they now find themselves back in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2009 which gives the T-Wolves some hope.
At the end of the day for Thibodeau, he no longer has to worry about clashing with anyone in the front office which should be good for the Timberwolves. But Thibodeau is a very smart man because of all the available head coaching jobs in the NBA this spring, none have the upside that the Timberwolves.
Aside from having Towns and Wiggins as franchise cornerstones, the Timberwolves also have a wealth of young talent in point guard Ricky Rubio who has the passing skills of Pete Maravich, center Gorgui Dieng, and point guard Zach Levine who after averaging 14 points per game this season, is showing the basketball world that he is more than merely a dunker. The Timberwolves will once again be picking in the NBA’s Draft Lottery, and if Thibodeau wants to make things interesting, he could package the pick, along with some of the young talent in Minnesota in order to acquire a superstar-caliber player. It also isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that the T-Wolves could dip into free agency over the summer and sign a player the likes of center Joakim Noah. Noah has spent the first nine seasons of his professional career with the Bulls, while he had his most productive span under Thibodeau which included him being named as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. Noah could provide the young Timberwolves with leadership being that he knows what Thibodeau wants and expects from his team. But for the first time in a long time, the Timberwolves have options.
Thibodeau is going to work the young T-Wolves in a way that they are unaccustomed to, but they will be winners. Although that Minnesota finished this past NBA season with a record of 29-53, you can see the potential that is there with this team as they scored a road victory over the Golden State Warriors this season which is something that most team fell short of doing this season. Thibodeau’s hiring comes after things appeared to be unraveling for the organization last year. The Timberwolves were taken by surprise when their head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders had to take a leave of absence after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But nobody expected Saunders to take a drastic turn for the worst when he tragically passed away last October. Sam Mitchell would take his place as the Timberwolves head coach this past season, but he could not provide the young team with the leadership that they needed. And I truly believe that the Timberwolves will receive that leadership now.
Although that the Timberwolves have been down in the dumps of the Western Conference for a long time, the future is extremely bright.