Most of us Minnesotans follow at least one sport. We follow our favorite team(s) by several means like watching them on television, listening to them on the radio or following the team through our mobile devices. Some would rather attend a live sporting event in person to cheer on their favorite team(s).
As has become a common theme in Minnesota sports recently, Timberwolves fans didn’t have much to cheer about last season. The hapless Wolves endured one of the least productive regular seasons in the team’s 26-year history, winning just 16 games while missing the playoffs for the 11th straight year.
One bright spot for the Wolves was Zach LaVine. The rookie out of UCLA showed flashes of promise on the court during the regular season while filling in at starting point guard for the oft-injured Ricky Rubio. He saved his best tricks for All-Star Weekend however, winning the 2015 NBA Dunk contest with a performance lauded by many as one of the most impressive in recent memory.
Apparently, one dunk title wasn’t enough for Mr. LaVine.
The two major league basketball teams in the state of Minnesota have both recently made moves to bolster their respective rosters.
The Timberwolves and its sister club, the Lynx both acquired new players, hoping to provide both leadership and statistical improvement.
Going into the draft Thursday, it was basically a lock that the Timberwolves were going to select Karl-Anthony Towns with the first number one overall selection in Minnesota basketball history.
This certainty came after months of speculation that Coach/GM Flip Saunders was enamored with Duke big man Jahlil Okafor. In fact, Towns didn’t know he was going to be picked first until NBA commissioner Adam Silver nodded at him before announcing the first pick.
The NBA held its draft lottery Tuesday night and the Minnesota Timberwolves came away with the top pick of the 2015 draft. This marks the first time in franchise history that the team would be making the first selection in the NBA Draft. The pick comes in another deep draft class, which should bring in another good player to pair with the last two first-overall picks and other lottery selections in the past few drafts.
Even with the Wild in the midst of an unprecedented surge, Kevin Garnett’s return dominated Minnesota sports headlines last week.
A video released by the Timberwolves’ Youtube channel this past Friday captures the nostalgic joy that filled the Target Center during Wednesday night’s re-debut of KG against the Washington Wizards..
As Minnesota Connected reported last Friday, this Wednesday night, Kevin Garnett will pull a #21 Timberwolves jersey over his distinctive wiry shoulders for the first time in nearly eight years. After what is sure to be a goose bump-inducing player introduction sequence (which will, no doubt, involve Diddy’s “Coming Home”), the house lights will come up and “Da (now 38-year old) Kid” will head to scorer’s table at Target Center to engage in his pregame talcum powder ritual/spectacle.
And so will begin the (perhaps multiple season long) swan song of the only truly great Timberwolf.
After one of the craziest trade deadline days ever in the NBA (over 8% of the league was traded), the Timberwolves came away with one extremely familiar face: Da Kid, The Franchise, The Big Ticket, KG, Kevin Garnett.
The Timberwolves are at it again. The team made deals to acquire two more players in separate deals last Tuesday.
President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders sent Wolves single-game scoring record holder Mo Williams to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for guard Gary Neal. A 12-year pro, Williams will bolster the backcourt of an underperforming 22-29 Hornets team.
Williams averaged 12.2 points and 6.4 assists per game in 41 games with the team this season.
“Mo played great for us, [he] helped guide us through some tough times with a lot of veteran-type players,” Saunders said.
In his fifth season, the 30-year-old Neal has a career average of just a shade under 10 points per game and is averaging nearly two assists this season in 21.7 minutes per game.
The guard acquired in the Corey Brewer trade, Troy Daniels, will also join Williams in Charlotte. The Hornets also gave up a 2019 second-round pick while receiving “cash considerations.”
The deal for Neal is more about getting a three-point shooter and the pick. Williams would likely rather be playing for a team that could make the playoffs as he thought he was when he signed with the Wolves before injuries derailed their season.
“This was a difficult decision because of what Mo brought to our team and the impact he had on our young guys,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said.
In the other trade of the day, the Wolves picked up 2014 1st-round draft pick Adreian Payne for a 2017 lottery-protected first-round pick. Payne was the 15th pick but has only played 19 minutes total in three games this season on a Hawks team that has surprised so far with a 43-10 record.
As the Wolves hold the second-worst record in the NBA at 11-41, developing young talent is their main goal for this year. Adding Payne gives the Wolves nine players who are rookies or second-year players.
Payne’s play at Michigan State should excite Wolves’ fans for what’s in store for the young frontcourt. Saunders said he spoke to close friend and Spartan’s coach Tom Izzo about Payne before making the deal.
“We’ve liked [Adreian] for a while and look forward to seeing him grow with us in a Wolves’ uniform,” Saunders said.
The new players become the 20th and 21st players on the roster this season.