Road Trip Thoughts: A goal for KAT, a struggling defense, and tanking in the NBA

For the Wolves, there’s always the NBA Draft Lottery set for this upcoming May. Any hopes that the Wolves may have had of making a trip to the playoffs heading into this three-game road trip have been unequivocally dashed. The bright spot for the Wolves is that Karl-Anthony Towns still goes out and dominates nearly every night. Sunday night’s 135-121 defeat to the Washington Wizards was another example of a terrific game in a loss.

Towns finished with another double-double, totaling 28 points and 10 rebounds while adding in seven assists. He’s cemented himself as the franchise star the Wolves always hoped he’d be. There are questions about whether or not he can be the top guy on a team that wins a title, but with the rest of the roster right now, the Wolves have bigger things to worry about than the answer to that question.

He’s the best part of this team, and every night becomes closer to solidifying himself as an All-NBA option for the second consecutive year. There’s a chance that voters give the nod to Rudy Gobert, as the Jazz will finish with a much better record than the Wolves, but Towns is deserving as of now. His offensive game has been near the top of the league as far as big men go, and his defense has improved considerably.

With the season’s original playoff goals all but washed away, Towns certainly should have a personal goal of being named All-NBA. That’s one that would make his checkbook thicker, too. The value of his next contract will increase to $190 million in total if he’s voted as one of the three best centers in the NBA this season. That could create a money problem for the Wolves, but it’s one Towns would certainly welcome.

There still will be plenty of reasons to watch the Wolves down the stretch of the season, and that might be the most fascinating one of them.

Defense, or lack thereof

This team sorely misses Robert Covington, and he should be making a return from a bone bruise in his knee sooner than later, but without him things have been bad, especially defensively.

While Covington was healthy and, in the lineup, the Wolves were a very respectable 11th in defensive rating. That’s not the most impressive rank in the world, but it’s much better than the 22nd place defensive rating they’re sported since the calendar flipped to 2019. Sunday night was another putrid effort on that end of the floor. The Wolves can score, no doubt, but they can’t keep anyone off the scoreboard these days, either.

Sunday night was the third time in the last five games that the Wolves have allowed 130 points or more. Granted, it took Atlanta an overtime period to reach that mark last Wednesday, but the point remains: Minnesota can’t stop anyone right now. It’s difficult to win games without any semblance of defense, especially when the Wolves struggle to shoot from the outside and only have one reliable offensive contributor most nights.

Tanking across the NBA

While SKORNorth.com should definitely be the most visited website for readers, Wolves fans may want to familiarize themselves with a site that pertains to the NBA Draft Lottery. The Wolves will surely be participating in it and will have some sort of chance at the No. 1 overall pick and the prize of Duke’s Zion Williamson.

Head on over to Tankathon.com to check on the odds of winning the lottery. They’re updated following every game, and users have the ability to simulate the draft lottery and see where the Wolves land as often as they’d like. As things stand right now, the Wolves have the 11th-best lottery odds, meaning there’s a 1.8-percent chance that they will select the No. 1 overall pick, and an 8.5-percent chance that their pick will land somewhere in the top four selections.

There are a few other teams that the Wolves will want to keep an eye on in terms of this lottery. They’re currently just one game behind New Orleans for ninth in the lottery standings. The bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race will also have an impact on the Wolves draft positioning. While Miami and Charlotte sandwich the Wolves right now, both of those teams are very much alive in the playoff picture in the East.

Those two franchises will be trying to make the postseason, rather than enhancing their chances at winning the lottery. This, paired with the fact that the Wolves have the fourth-toughest remaining schedule in the NBA, means that the Wolves have a decent chance of ending up with at least the 10th-best odds, if not higher.

The Pelicans are probably the team furthest away that the Wolves have a chance at catching, and they have the 15th-most difficult schedule the remainder of the way. It may not be likely, but it’s possible.