Timberwolves are Bill Simmons’ Sleeper; Top-5 in His NBA Power Rankings

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves
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It is the start of year 2 in the Rudy Gobert + Minnesota Timberwolves experiment, and Tim Connelly’s vision is finally starting to unveil itself. Gobert looks like a fully-upgraded version of what we saw in year 1 and, at 5-2, the Wolves have gotten off to their best start since 2013 and currently sit third in the Western Conference.

Bill Simmons has Timberwolves as Top-5 NBA Team

And the biggest names in NBA media are starting to pay attention. On his podcast “The Bill Simmons Podcast”, The Ringer CEO and founder, Bill Simmons, has the Wolves in the top 5 of his NBA power rankings and picked them as his “sleeper” team for this season.

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The obvious contenders in 2023-24 are Golden State, Philadelphia, Boston and Denver. But right behind them, says Simmons, are the Minnesota Timberwolves

“Top-5… These guys get their own category, ‘the sleeper’. Minnesota’s 4-2, they’re 1st in defense, they’ve beaten Boston and Denver already, and I think it’s real. I really do, I think it’s real. They’re just big and hard to play and they have two guys (Edwards and McDaniels) who can defend on the wings.”

“They’re just an absolute bitch to play, if they’re getting anything from [Mike Conley]. Now, there have been nights, like when Atlanta beat them and Conley had a bad game and they got beaten up by Murray and Young. But I’ve watched a lot of them this year and I’ve been kind of like quietly betting them too.”

“They always have these two big guys and they 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 am taking them seriously. I have only two West teams above them, Denver and Golden State, and it’s too early to say they are definitively ahead of the Lakers and Phoenix.”

“Minnesota is really good. I’m signing that in pen, Minnesota is good. In pen, not in pencil.”

The Bill Simmons Podcast

The Wolves deservedly have the attention of national media attention. They’ve already rattled off two statement wins — a 110-89 blowout against the defending champion Denver Nuggets and an electric 114-109 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics.

Attention warranted (thanks to defense)

Budding superstar, Anthony Edwards, went off for 38 points, 9 boards and 7 assists in the latter win, while playing lockdown defense on Jayson Tatum. The Celtics are Simmons’ team, so he watched every second of that OT Wolves win, and it clearly made a big impression on him.

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Minnesota’s defense has been their catalyst during their current 4-game winning streak. They have the best defensive rating in the league, both adjusted and non-adjusted.

Sure, Rudy Gobert anchors the Wolves’ #1 defense, but everyone is putting in work on that side of the floor. In fact, the top 4 individual defensive ratings, in the NBA, belong to Wolves players. Backup a bit, and you’ll see six Timberwolves in the top-10 and eight in the top-20.

  1. Rudy Gobert (MIN) – 95.0
  2. Karl Anthony-Towns (MIN) – 98.8
  3. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (MIN) – 99.6
  4. Kyle Anderson (MIN) – 100.1
  5. Mitchell Robinson (NYK) – 100.7
  6. Naz Reid (MIN) – 101.2
  7. Deandre Ayton (POR) – 101.5
  8. Anthony Edwards (MIN) – 101.6
  9. Jalen Suggs (ORL) – 102.0
  10. Scottie Barnes (TOR) – 103.0

** 12. Mike Conley (103.4) | 18. Jaden McDaniels (104.5)

It feels weird saying it… but given what we have seen through five games and the sustainability that good defense brings, but the Minnesota Timberwolves might really have all they need to contend for an NBA championship.

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