The Minnesota Timberwolves are the 2nd coming of the 2007-2016 OKC Thunder. In 2016, The Timberwolves were viewed as the NBA team that would dominate the NBA in the next few years. It is now almost 2019, and that looks to hardly be the case.
The Wolves young core of Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Zach LaVine (and later Kris Dunn), were expected to dominate the late 2010s and much of the 2020s. The wolves and Thunder made similar decisions, and the comparisons show where both teams went wrong.
The Timberwolves are Becoming the Old Thunder
Trading A Young Shooting Guard
*Disclaimer*- I’m not saying Lavine will become James Harden, but just look at the similarities in these situations, and yes, I know the Wolves were awful and the Thunder made the NBA Finals in 2012*
On the Thunder, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Harden were supposed to be the trio that would dominate the NBA. During the offseason leading into Harden’s fourth season, after averaging 16.7 points per game, he was traded for a proven star in Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks and a second round pick.
On the Timberwolves, Lavine, coincidentally, after his 3rd season (where he averaged more points than Harden in his 3rd season) was traded (and the Wolves 2017 pick Lauri Markkanen) for a proven star in Jimmy Butler, along with the 15th pick in the 2017 draft (Justin Patton).
Yes, Harden had more value, but at this time Lavine was dealing with a torn ACL and when he came back he struggled to get a groove going. We’ll see if Lavine can find himself over the next few years and maybe even become 3/4ths of the player Harden exploded into.
Creation of a Superteam
No superteam is the Warriors. Golden State grabbed Durant and now Demarcus Cousins and ran off to what will probably result in three straight NBA Championships.
Around the time the Thunder was starting to really get going, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh decided to team up in Miami. This was a scary big-three as James was at the peak of his game. He is still currently playing at a high level and has been on two other teams since he left Miami, but Wade is at the end of his rope and Bosh is retired. This team beat the Thunder in five games in the NBA Finals.
Something else interesting, the Timberwolves lost to the Rockets, who were also the one-seed, in five games, and the Warriors went on to win the NBA finals. Wow. This is deja vu.
Everyone thought when the Wolves acquired Butler, Minnesota would be a force in the west. It took until game 82 for that Timberwolves squad to sneak into the NBA playoff bracket. After being obliterated by the Houston Rockets in the 1st round and Butler requesting a trade, Minnesota’s year ended in disappointment.
The Future is Questionable
The Franchise player wants to leave (OKC-Durant, MIN-Butler), Minnesota has players who don’t seem to care much about winning (Towns, Wiggins). Things do not look as bright as they once did. It is sad to see this team go from “the future is bright” to “oh no” in just a few short years.
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