This week's eight things I liked and disliked include Anthony Edwards showing signs that the Minnesota Timberwolves' bet is paying off, how the Chicago Bulls' three All-Stars have no identity on offense and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander having the sport's most precious thing.
Jump to Lowe's Things:
Minny needs to win now | SGA's superstar trait
Chicago's broken offense | Banchero's bad turnovers
Duncan off the bounce | Luka increasing the pace |
Keldon's new role | Phoenix's masterpiece court
1. The Minnesota Timberwolves are here to stay
The Wolves trading Walker Kessler and four first-round picks to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gobert in 2022 was one of the most audacious wagers in NBA history. It was a massive bet on Gobert, and on the enduring power of size, but it was almost as big a bet on Anthony Edwards developing into a championship centerpiece before his 23rd birthday.
The Gobert megadeal hung a financial sword of Damocles over the Timberwolves -- it imposed a compressed timeline in which they had to win big. The Wolves understood that barring luxury tax outlays unprecedented for a small-market team, it could be unfeasible to keep their core together long. They have since re-signed Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid to hefty deals. In July, they inked Edwards to the inevitable maximum contract extension. The combined salaries of five players -- Gobert, Edwards, Reid, McDaniels and Karl-Anthony Towns -- will have Minnesota approaching next season's tax line.
Mike Conley and Kyle Anderson could be unrestricted free agents this summer. The second apron looms. Time will tell how much the Wolves' new ownership group might spend, and for how long, but at some point a cost-cutting move could siphon away at least one key player.
The Wolves need to win big, now. Every team that approaches title contention has an alpha ball handler. The Wolves need that player to be Edwards, and they might not be able to wait for his traditional prime seasons. They knew all this when they made the trade.
And Edwards, remarkably, is showing signs he might pay that bet off.
Last season, Edwards averaged 4.4 assists and 3.3 turnovers. He was and is a scorer first. He jacked lots of long 2s and missed some passing reads. Even in starring for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup this past summer, Edwards played with occasional tunnel vision.
In over 1,600 minutes across 67 games last season, there were 15 possessions on which Edwards passed to Gobert on the pick-and-roll and Gobert then attempted a shot, per Second Spectrum. That is fewer than one possession every four games.
"We were just never able to establish that chemistry between Ant and Rudy," Minnesota coach Chris Finch told ESPN.