The Minnesota Timberwolves are exactly a quarter of the way through the 2018-19 NBA season. It certainly hasn’t felt as if the Wolves have only played 21 games so far this year, but that’s where they stand with a 10-11 record.
That means it’s justified that we hand out our grades for the first 21 games of the season (and training camp). Grades in cases like this are typically done for individual players, but that’s no fun. So we’re going to grade the significant events for the Wolves so far this year.
Inking Karl-Anthony Towns – A
The Wolves made the right move here by signing Karl-Anthony Towns to a 5-year, $190 million supermax contact extension. By making this move the Wolves decided that they were going to be tying the success of their franchise to the success of their young All-Star. Towns still has growing to do, but the limit rests somewhere in the sky for this big man.
The Jimmy Butler practice and interview with Rachel Nichols – D
The only way that this could have gone worse for the Wolves was if Butler would have gotten hurt during the practice in which he verbally lashed out at members of the team, coaching staff, and front office after his trade demands were not immediately met. After that he had an interview set up with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols at his house. All of this was a really bad look for the Wolves and brought to light just how dysfunctional the situation was.
Derrick Rose’s 50-point performance – A-
What a night Halloween was for the Wolves. With Butler sitting out due to General Soreness, Rose looked like an MVP again, even if only for a night. The guard’s 50-point outburst at home in a win against the Utah Jazz set a new career-high for Rose. He was emotional after the game, and understandably so. After everything he has been through in terms of injuries in his career, it was hard not to appreciate everything it took for him to be able to play at that level, even if it was only for one night. While that night didn’t feel like an “I’m back” moment for Rose, but rather a “this is what I once was,” he’s been able to play at the highest level of his post-knee-surgery career this season.
The trade of Jimmy Butler – C-
There’s a lot to dig into here. Early returns on the Butler trade look good. Both Robert Covington and Dario Šarić have fit in very well in Minnesota since their arrival in mid-November. Each of them has helped this team to a 6-2 record post-trade, including the team posting the third-best defensive rating in the NBA since they made their debuts. The flip side here is that the Wolves waited entirely too long to part ways with Butler, falling into a 4-9 hole before they finally pulled the trigger on the deal.
Prince night – B+
The first time the Wolves wore their City Edition jerseys came on a Friday night home game against the Portland Trail Blazers. While the team played well and earned the victory, that’s not what we care about here. They looked great doing it — but of course that means the uniforms were fantastic. They’re incredibly well-designed and will be worn a few more times throughout the course of the season. The game operations staff did a terrific job keeping Prince’s music pumped through the speakers throughout the night as well. The pregame introductions could have featured a little bit more flash on a special night like this, and it would have been great to have an alternate court to match the uniforms, the way a couple of teams do.