OTG Team Awards: Minnesota Timberwolves
It was a difficult season in Minnesota, to put it mildly. Jimmy Butler tried to burn down the house while he was still inside, finally forcing a trade to Philly. Not long after dealing his former franchise player, Tom Thibodeau was relieved of command, just a year after breaking the franchise’s thirteen year playoff drought. Now that the Wolves will be watching the playoffs on TV again, these awards will be cold comfort for their recipients -- but we’ll give them anyways.
6th Man of the Year: Derrick Rose
Just a year after looking totally lost for the Cavs, Rose looked in part back to his former self. He scored 20 or more points off the bench no fewer than 16 times, as part of 18.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. He scored 50 points in a rare start, and brought energy and veteran leadership to a young squad. The Rose Revival was one of the few bright spots of the season: it’s hard to find anyone around the league who doesn’t wish that he could return to his former excellence. We at least saw a glimpse this year that he might.
Most Improved Player: Tyus Jones?
This wasn’t a good year in the Twin Cities. It’s honestly hard to find a player on the roster who improved in a significant way. Jones was a capable back-up point who averaged 6.9 points and 4.8 assists per game. I guess that qualifies.
Rookie of the Year: Josh Okogie
The springy Okogie acquitted himself very nicely in his first season in the pros. He started 52 games, averaging 7.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, leading all T-Wolves in takeaways. He needs to work on his shooting in a big way, hitting just 38.6% from the field and 27.9% from downtown. We’ll see the type of drive Okogie has to win this summer. Playing time is wide-open in Minnesota; if Okogie locks himself in a gym all summer and comes out firing, the Timberwolves will know they have a keeper.
Defensive Player of the Year: Robert Covington
It was an aborted season for RoCo, and perhaps it would have been a very different season in Minnesota if he hadn’t been lost to injury on the final day of 2018. While he was healthy, the Wolves had a winning record at 12-10, and though Covington contributed on both ends, his work on defense stood out, with 2.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. With his length and switchability, Covington has the potential to be an excellent frontcourt partner for Karl-Anthony Towns as the franchise moves into its next iteration.
Most Valuable Player: Karl-Anthony Towns
Speaking of Towns, there aren’t ten players that would get taken before KAT to start a franchise. He has a unique skill-set for a player his size, and once the cancer of Jimmy Butler was excised from the team, Towns got back to his 2016-7 self. He put up a ridiculous 24.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists, while blocking 1.6 shots per game and shooting 40% from downtown -- absolutely lethal inside and out. He peaked in February, putting up the better part of a 31-14-4; it was a sight to behold. With Towns as the centerpiece, Minnesota has a chance, but they need to get this team right, or else he might start thinking about being the centerpiece elsewhere.