The KAT is back!
One of the biggest stories in Minnesota over the offseason had to be the infamous Jimmy Butler saga, after the reported beef between the two all-stars. It was one month after Butler demanded a trade request that he finally got traded to the 76ers. For 13 games and the latter half of the offseason, Butler and Towns repeatedly clashed and took shots at one another. During the span that Butler was still on the roster, many critics and fans alike questioned KAT’s motivation and work ethic.
Jimmy Butler was actually acquired from the Chicago Bulls a year prior, in exchange for Zach Lavine (who was a good friend of Towns’), Kris Dunn and the 7th overall pick in the draft (Lauri Markannen). In their first season together, the duo led the Timberwolves to their first playoff appearance in 14 years despite numerous injuries, with a 45-37 record, good enough for 8th in the West. The Timberwolves were eliminated in the first round by the Houston Rockets, who finished with the best record in the league.
In the 13 games with Butler on the roster, Towns averaged 19.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 2.1 bpg on only 45.9% from the field. With Butler actually playing, he only averaged 17.7 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 2.4 bpg on 43.2% FG, which is a pretty bad percentage for a center. Sure, these are decent numbers, but they’re nothing compared to what Towns has done during the past two seasons. The Wolves went 4-9 when Butler was still on the team.
Without Butler, KAT and the Wolves are a completely different story. Based on the 8-game stretch they have played so far, the Wolves are 6-2, led by KAT, D-Rose, Wiggins and new acquisitions Robert Covington and Dario Saric. So far, KAT has been averaging 22.3 ppg, 14.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.9 bpg on 53.5% FG. This stretch includes an incredible 35-point, 23-rebound win over the Bulls in addition to 2 more 20-rebound performances for the Timberwolves superstar.
The Minnesota Timberwolves currently sit with a record of 10-11, good for 11th in the Western Conference. Although the West playoff picture will be difficult to enter due to the 14 or so teams that are in contention as of the moment. Despite this, the Timberwolves future looks bright. KAT is playing at an All-NBA level again, D-Rose & RoCo are contributing at a high level and the team looks happier in general. The Timberwolves are also tied for first in defensive rating (101.0 DRtg) since the Butler trade. Don’t be surprised if the Timberwolves wind up making the playoffs by the time the season ends.