Timberwolves 2019-20 Season Win Total: Can Karl-Anthony Towns Put Minnesota in Playoff Contention?

Timberwolves 2019-20 Season Win Total: Can Karl-Anthony Towns Put Minnesota in Playoff Contention? article feature image
Credit:

Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Karl-Anthony Towns

  • Prior to the 2019-20 NBA season, Matt Moore (@HPBasketball) analyzes each team's win total odds.
  • Below, Matt provides a case for the over and under + gives his confidence rating for the Minnesota Timberwolves' win total this year.

Check out this post for updated season win total odds and this post for my other 29 season win total picks.

All odds as of Friday. Check out PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Minnesota Timberwolves Win Total

The Case for the Over (35, Caesars)

There’s talent here. Karl-Anthony Towns is a legitimate monster when he’s engaged and has it going. Josh Okogie is a legitimately great defender. Jeff Teague is in a contract year. Robert Covington can shoot and was a Defensive Player of the Year darkhorse before he fell off the map.

There’s a formula here for a defense-first team led with athleticism, carried on offense by Towns. If they can build a system to cover, and if Jarrett Culver brings something to the table, that formula can work.

They have an easy opening schedule and only two true rest-disadvantage games before December 15, which might build them enough to get into the 30s — within striking range of the win total, even if things go sideways.

And hey, sure, look, what if Andrew Wiggins actually does make a leap and is a net positive this season?

The Case for the Under (35.5, PointsBet)

Spoiler Alert: Andrew Wiggins will not make a leap and will not be a net positive this season.

He is a drag on his team on both ends, and his play style implicitly makes it harder to win. Wiggins isn’t all bad; he’s really not. He’s just a high usage (24%) player with significant drawbacks who isn’t really good at anything. Like Rudy Gay before him, he’ll eventually become a competent role player somewhere. But even after he shot 34% from 3 last season, Karl-Anthony Towns’ Net Rating was worse with him on the court.

Outside of Teague, this is a brutally young team. Teague, Covington, Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng and Noah Vonleh are the only players with five or more years of experience, and those guys could all be traded in-season.

From January through March (the toughest part of the season), they have a top-seven schedule each month. Even a good start could get buried there, and that’s before the tough injury and sickness stretch in that time frame.

This number is also key. Under 35 wins is a standard bad-team record. Over 35 is a team that “was competitive and hung in the playoff race for a while.”

It does not seem likely that the Wolves are going to be in the playoff race at any point. Even if they’re on pace for the mid-30s, they’ll likely be so far out by the All-Star break that they’ll have to transition to tanking from a practical sense.

The Verdict

  • The pick: Under 35.5
  • Confidence: 2 out of 10

Towns makes me nervous on the under. He’s so good and entering his prime; he’s the kind of guy who can go bonkers and sneak them up to 37.

Coach Ryan Saunders has the support of the locker room, the front office, the community, everyone — but while there was nothing to really pin on him last year, there’s also nothing to really suggest he is exceptional enough to get a team to outperform expectations.

Those things are often surprises anyway — hence, the expectations — but it’s not something where the light is in the distance from here.

The roster’s not bad. It’s just that you can’t identify what they’re great at, either, which might lift them over teams that are above .500.

Covington may well be traded mid-season (potentially for D’Angelo Russell, who was reportedly close to signing with the Wolves before the Warriors pulled a rabbit out of their hat when they lost KD); Teague on an expiring contract may be more palatable to a contending team that suffers a point guard injury; and everyone on the roster but Towns and Culver should be available.

They’re either going to be mediocre or tank, and both scenarios fall in the range of the under in the West.

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