Three Timberwolves Land in ESPN’s Top-25 Player Rankings; Most in NBA

Photo: NBA.com

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the rest of the NBA are preparing for the start of training camp next week. Media outlets that cover the league, are doing the same. Part of that preseason media drive will include player and team rankings that NBA fans can fight over until regular season games tip-off next month.

ESPN is one of those outlets. And on Tuesday, they released their top 26-100 players. On Wednesday, their top 11-25 came out. D’Angelo Russell made yesterday’s release, landing at No. 93. The Wolves’ big three, Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and newly acquired Rudy Gobert, landed in the top-25, released today.

No. 25: Anthony Edwards

One huge question for 2022-23: How quickly will Edwards develop? Clearly, expectations are running high. Edwards ranks ahead of players who were All-Stars and even All-NBA picks a year ago. Edwards wasn’t that good as a sophomore, but his rapid development from low-efficiency scorer to one whose true shooting percentage (.560) was nearly league average was promising. If Edwards takes the leap we’re anticipating, an All-Star nod and Most Improved Player honors are within reach at age 21. Kevin Pelton (ESPN)

No. 18: Rudy Gobert

Swing skill: “The Stifle Tower” is a defensive system unto himself. Gobert’s arrival directly addresses two of the Timberwolves’ biggest weaknesses: rim protection and defensive rebounding. Opponents made 64.2% of defended field goals within six feet against the Timberwolves last season, which tied for seventh worst in the league. Gobert (50.7% last season) is annually among the stingiest rim protectors. Only the Nets had a lower defensive rebounding rate than the Timberwolves (70.6), while Gobert had the league’s highest individual defensive rebounding rate (36.3).Tim MacMahon (ESPN)

No. 13: Karl-Anthony Towns

Swing skill: Whether Towns is really the greatest shooting big man of all time, as he declared ahead of last year’s 3-point contest win to the dismay of Dirk Nowitzki fans, depends on the definition. Although Nowitzki was more versatile, in terms of 3-point shooting, the answer is yes. Last season was Towns’ fourth with at least 100 3s on 40% shooting or better, twice as many as Nowitzki or anyone else taller than 6-foot-10. Kevin Pelton (ESPN)

Is that good?

Sure, there aren’t any Wolves who have cracked ESPN’s top-10 yet (releases later this week). But according to Zach Lowe (The Lowe Post Podcast), the Minnesota Timberwolves will finish ESPN’s top-100 preseason rankings series as the only team with three players in the top-25. So yeah, that’s pretty good (58:30 mark — transcribed below).

“There is one team that will have three in the, has yet to be revealed, top-25 players in the (ESPN) NBA rank. And that team is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Anthony Edwards has cracked the top-25, along with Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, who are no-brainers.” Zach Lowe (“The Lowe Post” Podcast)

Lowe Likes Wolves

Lowe, who talked with Jon Krawczynski (The Athletic) for about half of his podcast this week, went on to share his excitement for Wolves basketball this season (1:24:10 mark above). He believes Chris Finch & Co will easily hit the over on 48.5 wins, which is what most sportsbooks have them on entering the season.

Much of Lowe’s optimism is pinned on about four hours of film he recently watched on Anthony Edwards. Ant is the X-Factor on the season. We know who KAT is, as a player. We know who Rudy Gobert is. But how high can Edwards fly?

If, in 2022-23, Ant makes the jump from top-25 player to top-10 player, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be nearly impossible to beat in the regular season.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan