May 22, 2024 - Sports

Your guide to faking you've been a Minnesota Timberwolves fan all along

Naz Reid and Anthony Edwards bump chests

Naz Reid and Anthony Edwards celebrate during their Game 7 win over Denver on Sunday night. Photo: C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

For those just now hopping on the Timberwolves bandwagon: Fear not, there's still room, but be aware that you'll be sitting with a tortured fanbase who have been waiting 20 years for this.

State of play: With Game 1 of the Western Conference finals tipping off tonight, here is the guide to faking it for the newfound Wolves fans.

How we got here: The Wolves have been left for dead three times in the past six weeks: Once after getting blown out in the regular season finale against their first-round playoff opponent, Phoenix.

  • Then again after losing Game 5 to Denver in the second round and, finally, in the third quarter of the decisive Game 7 on Sunday night when they trailed by 20 points.
  • Count this team out at your own risk.

The history: The Wolves franchise, which dates back to 1989, had the worst all-time winning percentage in men's professional sports as of three years ago.

  • They made a run to the Western Conference finals in 2004, which was the only time they had won a playoff series until they notched two this year.
  • Following the departure of Kevin Garnett, the fan base has suffered through three or four attempts to rebuild, the worst of which started in 2009 when they drafted Johnny Flynn and Ricky Rubio over Steph Curry, a two-time MVP and four-time champion.

The vibe: If you've caught a recent game, you've seen a team that plays together like brothers. Just 13 months ago, the same players were throwing punches at each other and at walls.

The players: By now you know about Anthony Edwards (Ant), the 22-year-old bona fide superstar who can do it all on the court and has charisma when he's off it. But this is a deep, hard-nosed team with seven or eight quality players.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) has been a Timberwolf for nine years and lived through it all, including the infamous Jimmy Butler tirade that blew up a promising team. While critics focus on his penchant for committing dumb fouls and whining to refs, he is a force on offense and played solid defense against three-time MVP Nikola Jokić in the Denver series.
  • Naz Reid is beloved by fans and his name is the team mantra. A third center, he's quick like a guard, can hit 3-pointers, and loves dunking on people.
  • Rudy Gobert: The Wolves traded everything for the 7'1" "Stifle Tower," and after a rocky first season, the Frenchman anchored the NBA's best defense and won Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Mike Conley Jr.: The 36-year-old point guard is the wise "old" man on the team and provides a calming presence and mentorship for Ant.
  • Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker: These long-armed wing players smother opposing perimeter players. When their shots are falling on the offensive end, the Wolves are practically unbeatable.

The coach: Chris Finch tore his patellar tendon during the final moments of the Wolves first-round playoff series and has been relegated to shouting at his players and refs from the second row.

The intrigue: Garnett has stayed away from Target Center in recent years due to his grudge against owner Glen Taylor.

  • Will he make a return to his beloved "'Sota" for one of the games? He said Monday "I got to" attend a game, though he didn't specify if he would do so in Dallas or Minnesota.

Details: Tonight's game against the Dallas Mavericks at Target Center tips off at 7:30pm on TNT. The Wolves also host Game 2 on Friday night.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Twin Cities.

More Twin Cities stories