Fair or Foul: Thibodeau Criticism

After Saturday’s loss to Phoenix, The Minnesota Timberwolves fell to 7-5 through their first dozen games. It was a disappointing loss to say the least. The Wolves entered the contest as 10 point favorites. The Suns outscored them by 11 in the fourth to win the game by 8.

For some people the 110-118 loss was so disappointing, it caused them to start to question our head coach, Tom Thibodeau. These some people included both fans and well-respected MN media members:

I didn’t know how to take this at first. As always, the passion of a pure-blooded sports fan is appreciated. It gets me jacked up. That doesn’t mean that I agree with the opinion associated with said passion. The whole early season criticizing of Thibs is a prime example of this.

With Jimmy Butler joining us over the summer, The Wolves organization is getting acclimated to a new Big Three. Can we hold hands and agree on that much? What happened when other franchises had this type of situation? How did they start their first season together? How did it pan out for them in the long run? With help from the good people over at basketball-reference.com, I was able to find out.

2010-11 Miami Heat (Lebron, Wade, Bosh): The old “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” bit. The old “not one, not two, not three…” bit. This Miami team was 8-7 through their first 15 games. The same Miami team that made it to four straight NBA finals, winning two of them. Heat fans were calling for coach Eric Spoelstra’s head. 7 years and two titles later, Spoelstra is almost as much as a staple in that organization as Pat Riley. He went from ashy to classy. Nicely done, Eric.


2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers (Lebron, Kyrie, Love): Shout-out to Andrew Wiggins. What a steal. Good looking, Timberwolves front office. Lebron returned home and Cleveland traded Wiggins to MN for Kevin Love, to create another James-led big three. This Big Three has made it to three straight NBA finals, before breaking up after the Uncle Drew/Isiah Thomas trade. How’d the first dozen go for these boys? 5-7. My math tells me thats worse than our current 7-5 record.

2017-18 Oklahoma City Thunder (Westbrook, Anthony, P. George): The Thunder are also currently getting used to a Big Three situation. Many preseason rankings had them picked to finish well ahead of us in the West. Where do they sit as of today? 6-7 overall. Below 500. I don’t spend a lot of time diving into OKC on Twitter, but I’d imagine fans down there are questioning Billy Donavon as we speak.

What’s the theme here? None of these teams came out of the gates like gangbusters.  As Gregg Popovich has taught us, team basketball is the best way to play basketball. The Spurs best player, Kawhi Leonard, has missed the start of this season due to injury. Pop’s squad just keeps rolling and is currently sitting 4th in the Western Conference. Not even the second best player of all time (second at the worst. @ me) could get his respective Big Threes’ off to a hot start. 7 straight NBA finals later for Lebron and teammates, it’s fair to say things were figured out.

Rome wasn’t built-in a day. If I’m in the mood for a roller coaster ride, I’ll stop by ValleyFair. When we beat the Jazz tonight, it will be a whole different narrative around Tom Thibodeau. Can we try to stay a little more even keel moving forward? Win or lose, this is a process. Thank you. #AllEyesNorth

Johnny Minnesota @mnsportsnstuff
Minnesota Sports Fan MinnesotaSportsFan.com

Sources: Basketball-Reference, Bleacher Report, San Antonio Express-News

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