2022-23 Kia Season Preview

2022-23 Season Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

The pairing of Karl-Anthony Towns and newcomer Rudy Gobert should make for a fascinating experiment in Minnesota.

Rudy Gobert brings a new dimension to Minnesota this season.

Let the Timberwolves’ grand experiment begin. And we do mean grand. Teaming new acquisition Rudy Gobert up front with Minnesota stalwart Karl-Anthony Towns is a definite zag in a league that mostly has zigged. Tall ball vs. small ball, with the centers who finished fourth and third, respectively, in last season’s All-NBA balloting now working in tandem.

It’s intriguing, even if it’s a throwback to the days of twin towers such as Hakeem Olajuwon-Ralph Sampson, Kevin McHale-Robert Parish and Tim Duncan-David Robinson. Those pairings all worked to varying degrees, so the Wolves seem reasonable in aiming for a conference title – heck, even a second-round appearance – in the near future.

Towns is delighted with the opportunity to more often face the basket and flex his versatile offensive repertoire. His mobility will be tested at the defensive end, but he and his teammates have Gobert protecting their backs. Coach Chris Finch, already a hit with the players and fans, may concoct ways to get more punch from the three-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year’s efficient scoring too.

This is a team that felt it squandered a chance to advance against Memphis last spring. Its sights have been raised considerably.


Is this a transformational season for Anthony Edwards? We’re talking about both his game and his character. The Wolves’ wing got another lesson for the latter when he was fined for posting derogatory and crude language on Instagram, for which the NBA fined him $40,000. He apologized again at media day Monday. Now beginning his third season, the 21-year-old has to show consistency, hitch up his shorts defensively and harness his bountiful skills in a way that puts him in All-Star conversations.


The Wolves are rolling the dice not once but twice. First, that Gobert and Towns can thrive together, the former doing everything he did in Utah and the latter unlocking some bonus game with his newfound freedom. Second, that the two bigs can stay on the floor at the same time in the postseason, when Utah’s opponents frequently exploited Gobert in space. But it was time in Minnesota – time to reach for a brass ring, which at the moment would be its first playoff series victory since 2004. Projection: Playoffs.


9.8 — Over the last two seasons, Rudy Gobert’s Jazz allowed 9.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor (102.7) than they did with him off the floor (112.5).

— John Schuhmann


D’Angelo Russell: Shooting woes and a playoff swoon puts a lot on the one-time All-Star’s bounce-back plate.

Anthony Edwards: This is the season Edwards needs to move from those “guys under 21” superlatives to wowing the league in general on a nightly basis.

Jaden McDaniels: The Wolves’ most important on-ball defender, a torment of length, wingspan and instincts shadowing premier scorers.

Karl-Anthony Towns: A new contract, a new position and a new opportunity to turn his talents into winning.

Rudy Gobert: NBA players to average 15 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 70%? This guy. That’s the list.   


Kyle Anderson: A valuable offense creator for the bench crew, plucked from new semi-rival Memphis.

Jordan McLaughlin: Critics look for reasons to dismiss him, but the backup point guard produces reasons to keep him. For example, his 4.7-to-1 assist/turnover ratio.

Jaylen Nowell: Sending out Malik Beasley will open bigger role for a Chris Finch favorite.

Taurean Prince: Wing has hit 38.5% of his 3s the past two seasons, but only getting up 3.5 per game.

Naz Reid: Good post-up presence and Gobert’s backup (if Towns sticks to forward full-time).


Season W L PCT OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank Playoffs
2021-22 46 36 0.561 113.8 7 111.0 13 +2.7 10 X
2020-21 23 49 0.319 109.3 25 114.5 28 -5.3 26
2019-20 19 45 0.297 107.6 24 111.6 20 -4.0 24
2018-19 36 46 0.439 110.6 13 112.2 24 -1.6 23
2017-18 47 35 0.573 112.5 4 110.2 25 +2.3 10 X

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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