NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: Will the Minnesota Timberwolves Make a Huge Leap?
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Edwards #1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota Timberwolves Win Total Odds
The Case for the Over
- Instant Top-Five Defense
The Timberwolves made arguably the biggest move of the offseason when they traded for Rudy Gobert. In doing so, they liquidated their draft assets from now until the end of the decade and sacrificed depth on top of it.
They are undeniably all in.
This is absolutely a case of, forgive the pun, too big to fail. This has to work. Whatever adjustments, be they coaching, roster, or otherwise, to enable this lineup to succeed will be made. Too much has been invested in it, and too much rides on it.
Thankfully, the combination does effectively work together.
There are all sorts of questions about Karl-Anthony Towns and Gobert’s fit together. Towns’ shooting is the essential component. His ability to spread the floor means they can space out teams that try and combat their size and punish smaller lineups.
The questions are about the defense and whether Towns can guard modern 4s. The two answers to this are “probably most of them in the regular season” and “even if he can’t do it, Gobert covers up so much that the overall defense will be good."
It’s important to note that Gobert, with anything resembling perimeter defense, is a top-five unit pretty much automatically. You can definitely argue about whether or not a team with D’Angelo Russell and Towns in the starting five has that. Towns showed good effort last season but is still exploitable. Russell’s a minus.
You can argue the merits of the rest, but their ceiling at point of attack is likely higher than the Jazz’s last season, which wound up with Utah ranking 12th overall in defensive rating, and when Gobert was on the floor, would have been the best defensive rating in the league.
Offensively, the weapons are great. There has been some concern about the shooting around the team, given what they gave up in the Gobert trade with Beasley and more. Some of that concern is valid; Beasley was 53rd percentile, Patrick Beverley 55th percentile league-wide on catch-and-shoot opportunities.
However, Jaylen Nowell was 68th percentile on limited attempts, Edwards was best at 73rd percentile, and D’Angelo Russell was actually noticeably below his expected eFG% on catch-and-shoot. Those should go up with more rim gravity from Gobert.
Much of this will come down to how you feel about their individual personnel. If you don’t think Towns can ever be a good defender (despite consistent success when playing at the screen level in pick and roll), then this is a pretty high number you can fade. If you don’t believe in Anthony Edwards, you should absolutely fade this team.
But the Wolves have two top-25 players in Towns and Gobert, and Edwards is expected to make that leap. The bench may not be great, but there’s enough there to get through the minutes. I’m expecting a top-10 unit on both sides of the floor. That’s enough for an over.
The Case for the Under
- Towns' Health
- Depth Issues
- Expected Progression vs. Stagnation
For starters, Karl-Anthony Towns was recently hospitalized in preseason with a non-COVID illness and said he lost 25 pounds He’s working on getting back onto the floor, but that’s really concerning first off for his overall health and then, of course, for the team.
(Can the fates please leave Karl-Anthony Towns alone? He’s suffered so much heartbreak and tragedy lately. Leave KAT alone, universe!)
Towns is critical in this configuration. D’Angelo Russell and Gobert can run pick and roll, and Anthony Edwards can make a leap as a solo scorer and creator. But if Towns isn’t right, and it’s honestly not fair to expect him to be after such a severe illness, at least for a few months, that severely limits the team’s upside.
The depth has been really crushed here. Patrick Beverley only exists in a binary state. He’s either underrated or overrated. I think he was slightly overrated last season. But they did lose an emotional leader who shot the ball well and is a pest at the point of attack. Beasley is a pure shooter. Jared Vanderbilt gave them really good minutes last season as a versatile combo-big.
The new bench is basically Jaden McDaniels, Jordan McLaughlin (who was sneaky good last year), Taurean Prince, Naz Reid, two late-round rookies, and a bunch of guys Tim Connelly had in Denver (PJ Dozier, Austin Rivers, Bryn Forbes).
Injuries are going to cause major downgrades with this team.
The shooting issues I mentioned above; Kyle Anderson shot just 33% from deep last season after a singular good 36% season in 2020-21.
What if the paint is clogged? What if Russell’s numbers don’t regress back to the mean? What if Anthony Edwards doesn’t take a leap?
There are a lot of expectations around Edwards this season. If those expectations are factored into the number (and they pretty clearly are), then any failure to reach lofty improvements could create an under.
The trends are also bad, here. The 45-50-win threshold is a dead zone in the NBA as of late. Teams that have won between 45 and 50 games and then had a win total of 49.5 or more the following season are 10-4-1 to the under in the last 10 seasons. Teams with a win total at 49.5 or higher are 32-18-1 to the under overall at 62.7% over the last 10 seasons.
Timberwolves Win Total Bet
I lean over, I think there’s a good chance that they win 50 or more, but not strong enough to bet it. The division is weak, with Utah repositioning for the future and OKC losing Chet Holmgren. I like Chris Finch a lot as a coach and think he will find answers.
However, the players pushed back on their defensive success playing at the level in pick and roll last season. You don’t have to do that with Gobert, nor should you; he’s literally the best drop defender in the history of the NBA.
But playing aggressively at the level unlocked this team’s athleticism and made up for their weaknesses. If they move away from that towards more switching in an effort to be playoff-ready, they’re going to get torched, even with Gobert on the floor. It creates too many mismatches.
I’m optimistic about the offense, but Towns’ illness and some of the uncertainty is enough to rattle me. I think it’s a stay-away or a low-unit play on the over.