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Bill Simmons heaps praise on Timberwolves: 'This is real'

"They're one of the five best teams in the West."

Despite the league's toughest schedule to this point in the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves own a 5-2 record and have been changing minds of doubters. 

In his most recent podcast, The Ringer's Bill Simmons power-ranked all 30 NBA teams and listed the Wolves at No. 5, saying, "Minnesota is really good. I'm signing that in pen. Minnesota is good."

Fresh off victories over the Celtics and Nuggets, the Wolves have sent an early message that they just might not be a team to mess with this season.

"These guys get their own category: The Sleeper, Minnesota," Simmons said Wednesday. "I watched them beat [Boston] in overtime last night. Minnesota is 4-2. They're first in defense and they've beaten Boston and Denver already. I think it's real. I really do. I think it's real."

"They're just big and hard to play," Simmons continued. "They have two guys that can defend on the wings. [Jaden] McDaniels was awesome last night against the Celtics, against [Jayson] Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown. And when Edwards wants to play defense, which he's never bad, but when he wants to dial it up . . . they're just an absolute b**** to play if they're getting anything from [Mike] Conley. I've watched a lot of them this year. They're +8.2 point differential, I think that's real."

Nov 6, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson (5) defends Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (7) in the third quarter at Target Center.

Nov 6, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson (5) defends Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (7) in the third quarter at Target Center.

While there was a lot of positives from Simmons about the Wolves' early play there was one area he focused on that needs improvement: Karl-Anthony Towns.

"They're only 19th [in] offense and the reason is because [Karl-Anthony] Towns, who has good plus/minus stats, he's averaging 16 and 9 for them this year, 38% shooting, 24% from 3," continued Simmons. "If you watch the Celtic game from last night, he was one of the only reasons the Celtics were in the game. They were guarding him with Jrue Holiday in overtime. It was embarrassing for him. It seems like their best lineup might be [Rudy] Gobert/Naz Reid/McDaniels/Conley and Edwards. I don't know if they want to admit that yet but Towns both feels expendable to me but also feels like one of the reasons they're really good. They always just have these two big guys and just have a lot of size all over the place but also the ability to guard wings."

"This team is better than I thought they were going to be and I'm taking them seriously," said Simmons. "I only have two West teams above them, Denver and Golden State. It's too early to say they're definitively ahead of the Lakers and Phoenix but they're one of the five best teams in the West. This is where we are. This is real."

Minnesota has a litmus test next week with back-to-back road games against the Warriors. 

Simmons wasn't the only member of The Ringer to praise the Wolves. Zach Kram noted the Wolves' impressive early showing in his column. 

The two best teams this season are Denver and Boston. Those two favorites have just one loss apiece—and both defeats came against Minnesota. With Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards, and Jaden McDaniels, the Timberwolves boast the best defensive rating in the NBA; both the Nuggets and Celtics had by far their worst offensive showings in any game this season against the Wolves.

The Timberwolves haven’t been consistently dominant so far—see their 67-34 second-half thrashing at the hands (wings?) of the Hawks—and their 18th-ranked offense still looks rickety at times. But they’re developing a clear identity, and they’ve demonstrated that they can beat anyone. Maybe it’s not quite time to fire up the Trade Machine for Karl-Anthony Towns deals after all.

Minnesota smoked a shorthanded Pelicans club Wednesday night and on Friday they open their In-Season Tournament schedule on the road against Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs. 

Anthony Edwards

Nov 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) celebrates against the New Orleans Pelicans in the fourth quarter at Target Center.