Bigger and better Timberwolves want to make historic run

By on September 27, 2022 0

The Timberwolves have gone big this summer.

They also added Rudy Gobert.

Before trading for one of the best centers and defenders in the league, Wolves did something even more unusual. They built their organization, turning a wartime hiker into a McMansion.

At the end of the 2021-22 season, Wolves looked promising. They have won 46 games. They developed young players like Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, and could have argued that maturity itself would have led them down a productive path, with Sachin Gupta being a talented young general manager.

Then new owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez changed the Timberwolves, structurally and reputationally.

They hired famed team builder Tim Connelly from the Denver Nuggets. Connelly kept Gupta and added respected executives Dell Demps and Matt Lloyd.

The Timberwolves have never gone deeper. Organizationally or in the field.

Their CEO, Ethan Casson, was chosen Most Admired CEO by the Minneapolis/St. Paul’s business diary.

The general manager and coach of their WNBA franchise, Cheryl Reeve of the Lynx, leads the USA team and will be coaching at the Olympics.

Their seemingly awkward ownership structure – with Glen Taylor leaving and Lore and Rodriguez entering – has been able to attract top talent, while displaying a willingness to pay top dollar for it.

Coach Chris Finch is the rare sports management personality that everyone seems to love and respect, and he has built a strong coaching staff.

The roster improved overnight with the acquisition of the 7ft 1in Gobert, then Connelly and his team replaced traded depth – including Patrick Beverly, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro and a host of draft pick – starring Kyle Anderson, Austin Rivers, and a bunch of intriguing actors.

For most of their history, wolves have begged for saviors. Gobert and Connelly are the few early acquisitions who will be asked to elevate the team rather than save it.

“I saw it as a natural evolution of the vision for ownership and our new ownership,” Finch said of the front office changes. “All credit goes to Sachin and his group and the work they did last year. I thought bringing Tim in was a home run. Obviously I’ve worked with him before and with so many other people he brought.

“Everyone comes here with a great reputation. The synergy they’ve been able to establish between the existing front office people and the new people is pretty impressive.

“I think we had one of the smaller front offices in the league, traditionally.”

Finch noted that modern organizations need layers of analysts and evaluators. “What’s impressive about the new front office is that all these different people have different, interwoven skill sets. You don’t always see that. You see a territorial mindset sometimes, a lot of turf battles. Until ‘Now this group has been really refreshing.’

Finch, Connelly and most of the Wolves players spoke at the team’s season-opening press conference at Target Center on Monday. This group will train for the first time together on Tuesday.

This could and should be the start of the best four-year hit streak in franchise history.

Wolves’ best four-year streak to date was 2000-04, when they won 206 games and reached the Western Conference Finals once.

If Gobert stays for the full length of his four-year contract and Wolves enjoy reasonable health and luck, they should earn over 206.

The front office is bigger and probably better.

“I joined a very good organization,” Connelly said. “It was more about raising. There wasn’t much missing, but when you’re lucky enough to have connections all over the league and you can hire people who are way smarter than me, you do that. aggressive way.

The front yard is bigger and necessarily better.

“I don’t think there’s a cap,” Gobert said. “When I look at the roster and the talent that we have in this group, it’s, I mean, it’s pretty, pretty amazing. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a group of guys who can really, I think, accomplish anything.