If history really does repeat itself, it's best to avoid looking into the Timberwolves' future.
In 31 years as a franchise, the Wolves have hit rock bottom as often as a bouncing basketball hits the court. Reinvigorated after a series of trades that delivered D'Angelo Russell to Minnesota? Absolutely, but a 13-game losing streak could soon become 14 against the Clippers Saturday, then 15 when Minnesota faces the red-hot Raptors in Toronto Monday.
If the streak reaches 15, Minnesota will need to beat the Hornets next Wednesday or face a very real possibility of the free-fall reaching 20 games, because after the Hornets, they play the Celtics, Nuggets, Mavericks and Heat, the latter three on the road.
Current records of Minnesota's next six opponents (entering play Friday):
- Clippers 36-15
- Raptors 37-14
- Hornets 16-35
- Celtics 35-15
- Nuggets 36-16
- Mavericks 31-20
- Heat 34-16
It's not out of the realm of possibilities that Jimmy Butler and the Heat put Minnesota on a 20-game losing streak. The franchise-worst losing skid is 18 games. Needless to say, the record is in danger.
Minnesota's new-look team is still built around Karl-Anthony Towns, with Russell, a score-first point guard, and Malik Beasley, a score-first wing, adding to the offensive talent on the court.
At this point, winning is squarely on the shoulders of Towns and Russell, who will undoubtedly be tasked with outscoring every opponent considering Minnesota's roster is void of an All-NBA-caliber defender that Robert Covington was, and still is with Houston.
“I’ve been losing for a long time,” Towns said after Wednesday's loss to the Hawks, via The Athletic. “I’m not trying to do that (expletive) anymore. So every possession means a lot. You obviously see my patience running low with a lot of things. There’s no excuses. We gotta get it done."
Better said: Towns needs to get it done.
Towns hasn't led Minnesota to win in any of the past 17 games. Find another superstar who hasn't put his team on his back to win at least once in what is literally 20.7% of a regular season.
Towns is the franchise player who hasn't proved capable of pulling his team off the rocks. Instead of putting the team on his back, Towns has complained about being "disrespected" after failing to make the All-Star Game, then putting a collection of memes signifying confusion on Instagram after Covington and four other teammates were traded Tuesday night.
Twenty-four hours later, after more teammates were traded and his good friend Russell was acquired, Towns was far more optimistic in an interview with The Athletic. That optimism doesn't exist league-wide.
"He should be sad at himself. He hasn't won a game since November. On top of that, have you looked at KAT's defensive ratings? He's horrible. He's not guarding the paint, he's not blocking shots. All he cares about his getting his 25 and 13, those fool's gold numbers," said Kendrick Perkins during an ESPN segment Wednesday.
"You wanted my boy Thibs (former coach Tom Thibodeau) out of there. They got Thibs out of there. You wanted Jimmy Butler gone. They got Jimmy Butler gone."
Ironically, it might be Butler burying the Wolves deeper than ever before if Towns and Russell can't will the team to victory once in the next two-and-a-half weeks.