Rudy Gobert, the missing piece in Minnesota
The arrival of Rudy Gobert in Minnesota take the Timberwolves from a fringe playoff team to contenders for the Western Conference next year.
After three seasons without playing a second in the post season, the Minnesota Timberwolves want to do things right. Last season was the second time in the last 19 years that they made it past the regular season which has injected a sense of belief at the Target Center. This offseason, they showed they are going all in when they decided to bet on Rudy Gobert, whose time came to an end in Utah.
The start of NBA free agency solved several mysteries, but blossomed others that were not expected, like Kevin Durant’s trade request or the possible arrival of Kyrie Irving to the Los Angeles Lakers alongside LeBron James. One of the teams that was in the spotlight was the Jazz. After a disappointing season and that ended much earlier then planned in Utah, is was palpable that tandem of Donovan Mitchell - Rudy Gobert was on its last legs.
Although the possible departure of the Frenchman was discussed, it was Mitchell who seemed to be on his way out, with his future looking destined for New York. But, as always, the NBA never ceases to amaze. On July 1, the day the market opened, Gobert was traded to Minnesota in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Walker Kessler, Leandro Bolmaro and four first-round draft picks.
Now, with a team lead by Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, Minnesota is poised to storm the Western Conference. Gobert, 30, has made the last three editions of the All Star (2021, 2021, 2022), in addition to having been decorated as Defensive Player of Year three times (2018, 2019 and 2021).
Something different in Minnesota
The first thing he brings is defense. A player capable of influencing the game on both ends of the floor. This will be welcomed in Minnesota, since last season the Timberwolves were the 13th best defense in the entire NBA during the regular season, with an average of 111 points received for each 100 possessions.
How Gobert and Towns pair up down low will be a big reason for the T’Wolves success and failures. An atypical tandem in the modern NBA, although increasingly more common these days. The Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics would bring two of their big guys Al Horford and Robert Williams III on together in important games. Another example could be the Cavaliers, with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen at the helm.
Another doubt about the Frenchman’s arrival may focus on the rhythm of the game . While the Timberwolves created the most possessions per game in the regular season (101.47 per game), Gobert’s previous team, the Jazz, was only created 97.50, which was 23rd in the NBA. There will be a learning curve for Gobert in Minnesota’s high tempo offense to start the season.
Veterans on the track
The veteran center will find himself in a young locker room, eager to learn. The star of the new generation in Minnesota is the top draft pick of the 2020 Draft, Anthony Edwards . The Timberwolves star had a great season last season, averaging 21.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Edwards is on the verge of superstardom and could be the one to lead the charge, taking Minnesota back to the glory days of the early 2000s.
With Gobert they acquire that experience that the franchise needed. Minnesota coach Chris Finch, will be pleased with the Frenchman’s experience and heart. “I will give 200% every night. I will do everything possible to give this team a championship, ”said the former Utah Jazz player in his introductory press conference.
With an above-average offensive side, the European player can become the much-needed defensive anchor. In this sense, he will complement Towns perfectly. And, on offense, the Dominican’s versatility and talent from outside the paint will leave free space for Gobert to do his thing under the rim.
Gobert might be that missing piece to the Timberwolves puzzle. Veteran, experience and efficiency. One of the best defenders the NBA has seen in recent decades joins one of the most exciting projects. Now it’s Chris Finch’s responsibility to see everyone take Minnesota to the top of the Western Conference.