noThe definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, if we’re going by definitions alone, a healthy portion of NBA franchises are insane. The theory that teams are the sum of their parts – and thus the higher profile and more talented the parts, the better the team – has been repeatedly disproved. Sure, having a superstar or two is incredibly helpful (and maybe even essential) to reaching the heights of NBA success, but it’s not the best-of-all-stars idea. One need look no further than the pile of rubble that is the hopes of a Big Three championship in Brooklyn or last year’s disastrous Los Angeles Lakers championship, more is not always the case. More When it comes to superstar talent. However, teams seem to try this method over and over again, even though it’s not really satisfactory.

The latest example of this madness-born can be found in the frigid Minneapolis tundra. The Minnesota Timberwolves have been, to put it mildly, an underdog franchise in history. Heading into the 2021-22 season, in fact, the Wolves hold the crown as the all-time losing franchise in North American sports, surpassing the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers for that distinction. Expectations from the team at the time were as low as could be, making it a feel-good story as Geely Timberwolves suddenly managed to pull off improbable victories – and, ironically, enjoy the hell out of themselves – heading into 2018. One of only two playoff appearances for the team since Kevin Garnett’s Hillcion Day in 2004. Anthony Edwards, the Wolves’ No. 1 overall draft pick in 2021, seems particularly prosperous, with a new coach and roster in Chris Finch, despite the lack of defense, facilitating his development and giving him the space to do what he does best, especially beating people within an inch of their lives.

theirs other No. 1 overall draft pick on the roster Karl-Anthony Towns also had a good regular season last year (tempered by a string of losing streaks) that led to a third All-Star Game appearance, even just the third big. Man to win the race with three points. All and all, considering they lost a hotly contested series in Memphis (sometimes head-scratching), it was hard not to find the season a resounding success. On top of that, after years of Glenn Taylor in charge — the franchise’s generally unpopular steward — Timberwolves fans got their wish: a gradual transition of the guard to a new ownership group led by Mark Lorre and one-time M.L.B. Alex Rodriguez started just before the start of the 2022 season. The future looks very bright in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Shortly after the Timberwolves were eliminated in the aforementioned first-round series against Memphis, the new ownership group made their first major chess move: firing GM Tim Connelly for his longtime post with the Denver Nuggets. The hire marks the beginning of what will be a stressful offseason for the team. Perhaps they were a little high on their own supply of good feelings: the buzz of their success mixed with the excitement of new ownership would lead them into a decision-making winter that seemed to be projected on both “winner-now” and the notion and belief that Edwards was poised to become the number one offensive option. .

Anthony Edwards (1) and Rudy Gobert (27) of the Minnesota Timberwolves go on the court during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in October. Photo: David Sherman/NBA/Getty Images

What followed was, on the face of it, an error of judgment, mixed with many errors on its side. To break them down one by one: The first error appears to be the assumption that Edwards’ impressive postseason debut was, in part, but not the assumption that several key members of his supporting cast were sent to Utah. Finally trading for Rudy Gobert, including Patrick Beverley, who literally cried tears of joy when he was done for the playoffs. Second, Edwards is poised to become The Guy – 28 proven games so far seem to indicate that perhaps the 21-year-old could have used another year of development. Third, the hubris of a year of successful results was so promising that he boldly “upgraded” (based on results so far) into the roster. The last, and most devastating mistake, brings us back to the insanity department: the big bet that swapped out several key role players for a big star was to make the team better, despite questions about fit, and an already established one like us. Years of evidence to the contrary.

That superstar trade came with a historic price tag: To get Gobert, the Wolves parted with four first-round picks (three of them unprotected), a draft pick, promising young talent Jared Vanderbilt, Beverley, Malik Beasley, Leandro Ballmero, and their 2022 draft pick in Walker Kesler. That’s a mortgage for a three-time player of the year, but he’s never even made it to the conference finals in his eight years in the league. And he’s come under fire for his poor playoff showing (even against a defense that made a name for itself in the regular season).

Early returns on gambling have not been great. Pre-season hype about a new attempt at a super team fueled speculation around the league that they had a sure shot at a playoff spot and perhaps a shot at the top of the Western Conference. But after Wednesday’s loss to the LA Clippers, the Timberwolves are two games below .500 with a 13-15 record and the hometown fans are growing restless. The group seems to have a disjointed, often sloppy, galvanic chemistry that inspired them in their Cinderella story last year.

In one thing that came out of the ‘Minnesota Nice’ cup, the fans were not shy about expressing their displeasure with the team’s performance, leading many players to acknowledge the noise epidemic at home games to journalists – although their reaction was the opposite. Feels like talking. It looks like Edwards Look inward for the answer to the cry; After a season-opening loss to the San Antonio Spurs: “It’s been screaming at our house, it’s crazy. We have to find ourselves… but the fans are not wrong. We look bad. Gobert took a bit of an introspection, telling fans a month later after a Heat by Heat loss to John Krawczynski, drawing more boos from the crowd: “There’s never been a team in the history of the NBA that’s only had good times, so if you’re one, you’re not going to support us in the tough times, just stay home.”

Many of the losses occurred before the cities calved in late November (expected to miss a month or so). Chemistry and fitness issues — and, by extension, effort and intensity issues — have clearly plagued the team all season, and Towns’ injury is in some ways the least of their problems. I asked head coach Chris Finch how he felt about his team’s chemistry, especially after a disappointing loss at home to Golden State, and he said nothing. “I don’t think we have good chemistry right now,” he admitted. “I think we’re trying to figure it out. But I think we never know exactly how everything will fit together on any given night.

For a team that looked like they had the time of their lives last year, it’s cruel as hell and frankly disappointing to see them truly joyless after a season. It’s especially worrisome for Edwards, because formative years like these can have a profound effect on a budding superstar’s trajectory. And if the team took a more patient approach, valued the role players who gave them their identity, and paid more attention to staff alchemy than shiny new toys and broad toys, the angry mess would be even more frustrating. A stroke. Because as much as NBA owners and GMs like to believe otherwise, successful teams aren’t math: they’re science. Chemistry, actually. And double, triple, quadruple vice versa? Well, that’s just crazy.



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