Karl-Anthony Towns was in full swing mourning the Timberwolves’ approach and play on Tuesday when he lost 128-125 to New Orleans, ending Minnesota’s four-game winning streak as he lifted the hottest team in NBA.
“Do you see Memphis right now? There are up to 10 of them today, ”Townes said. “This is where I want to be. I want to have such an impulse. ”
The Grizzlies, the Timberwolves rival on Thursday in Memphis, beat the Golden State league titan on Tuesday for their 10th win in a row. They are 20-4 in their last 24 games and have established themselves as one of the best teams in the Western Conference. They are currently tied for third place in the Western Conference with Phoenix.
Memphis point guard Ja Morant, 22, is vying for the NBA’s most valuable player. Kyle Anderson and Stephen Adams are valuable veterans, while the rest of the Grizzlies’ rotation players are 25 or younger.
And it is with this young core that Memphis is taking the NBA by storm. The Grizzlies have made the play-ins each of the past two seasons and made the playoffs last spring. They are now moving from playoff hopes to potential championship contenders.
This is the exact trajectory that the Timberwolves hope to follow. It’s easy to draw parallels between the two franchises. They line up the same in age, although the Wolves are younger: the five players in the rotation are currently 22 years old or younger. Anthony Edwards is two years younger than Morant.
The difference is that the Grizzlies’ rotation players are around 25 years old, while the top-salary Minnesota players Townes and D’Angelo Russell are now 26 and 25, respectively.
Given this, should Minnesota be closer to Memphis than it is now? The Wolves can certainly beat Memphis. They have beaten the Grizzlies in one game this season and would have been 2-0 against Memphis if it hadn’t been for a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. But the Grizzlies are much more consistent from night to night, and that’s a characteristic of great teams.
It remains to be seen if the Wolves will be able to get there. Their defeat on Tuesday in New Orleans was another drawback in the persistence category. Is it because Minnesota has an even younger roster – with less collaborative experience – than Memphis? Perhaps the Wolves are just a year or two behind the Grizzlies. Chris Finch had less than a year to sink his teeth into the wolves, and the head coach’s influence was evident.
Maybe the Wolves just need more time to create the kind of culture that the Grizzlies have created, which won 10 of 12 games without Morant earlier this season.
But how long this particular version of the Wolves gets and deserves remains to be determined. Because Memphis has shown that being young doesn’t mean being inconsistent. This should not mean that you cannot compete at the highest level.
And if you don’t do these things, it might be because you don’t have the right combination. Or it may be because while you are on your way to that point, you are simply not quite there yet.