The Minnesota Timberwolves came into the 2022-23 NBA season as a dark horse contender to go far in the playoffs.
Many people looked at their acquisition of Rudy Gobert over the summer as a turning point for the franchise, signaling their commitment to truly competing for a title.
Given how much Minnesota gave up in the trade for Towns – that belief certainly made sense.
Unfortunately, 19 games into the season, the Wolves are a mess. They are presently 10-9 and sit ninth in the Western Conference.
Gobert, specifically, has struggled. He is averaging 13.8 points (worst since 2017) on 63.5 percent shooting (worst since 2017) and 12.8 rebounds per game (worst since 2017) per game. His 1.4 blocks per outing is also a career low.
On Friday night, Minnesota fell by two to a struggling Charlotte Hornets squad that was playing without LaMelo Ball.
In the aftermath, guard D’Angelo Russell made a comment about Gobert that some have perceived as a shot.
“He catch the ball, he’ll score,” Russell said afterward.
Why is that (possibly) a shot at Gobert? Because the 30-year-old Frenchman is a notorious pass fumbler. Case in point:
Gobert tries to Air Jordan a lob pass in crunch time but only gets all Air pic.twitter.com/M4HR0ImAoo
— hoops bot (@hoops_bot) November 26, 2022
Russell’s quote was then passed on to Gobert. His response was interesting.
“Sometimes I fumble it,” he admitted. “Most of the time, I get it and something good happens. As long as we can keep that trust and I can try to put myself in the right spots for him to find me. Whether it’s that pocket pass or that lob, any pass actually, just trusting me. I think it’s been good for us…
“I’ve got to be able to give him even more confidence and make sure I catch all of them…I think we’re going to get to that point. If shit happens, s**t happens. But for the most part, usually, good things happen.”
It’s hard not to hear Russell’s comments and immediately think of Gobert’s longstanding beef with former teammate Donovan Mitchell.
Russell’s criticisms and Mitchell’s criticisms are sounding very similar.
Big picture, obviously the season is still young. It takes time to build chemistry and get on the same page.
That’s quite the dress. The Bucks may have a new team captain. https://t.co/vDYWYCFRsI
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 26, 2022
That said – this is a red flag.
Will the Timberwolves be able to regain some semblance of the momentum they had at the end of last season?
Time will tell.