Two Timberwolves Named to Back-Half of NBA Top-100 List

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have been completely turned over since Gersson Rosas was hired during the 2018-19 offseason. Karl-Anthony Towns is the only player from that roster who is left standing. But the Rosas vision appears to be working as we get ready for an off-scheduled 2020 season.

It looks like the Wolves will land more players on ESPN’s preseason NBA Top-100 Players list than they have since 2018, when they landed four (Butler, Towns, Wiggins, Teague).

ESPN counts their list down from 100 and releases it in four parts. The first is #100 — #50. Two Timberwolves’ guards were names on the first release. The first (and lowest-ranked) name you see is our new/old friend, Ricky Rubio. If you continue scrolling down, you’ll see some real disrespect though.

93. Ricky Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves | PG

Previous rank: 84

2020-21 projected RPM: 1.4

Secret skill: He never quite lived up to the Pistol Pete-level hype, but Rubio has cemented himself in a pretty high-tier category: He’s a reliable point guard. What you see is what you’re going to get, and while he has never been a great shooter or scorer, Rubio can sneak up on you if you sleep on him. He had 14 games scoring 20 or more points last season. — Royce Young (PLUS)

Ricky Rubio’s been falling down this list since he left the Minnesota Timberwolves, which makes no sense, since he’s actually gotten better in that time. As you can see above, Rubio was ranked #84 leading into the 2019 season, his first and only in Phoenix.

Before the 2018 season, Ricky almost made the second release of ESPN’s list, jumping all the way up to #52 and did jump into the top-50, at #48 in 2017.

I almost fell off my chair when I saw D’Angelo Russell in this first release…. all the way down at #69. He’s clearly fallen off the radar of NBA players who people think can be great. We’ll see if he can change that narrative this season.

69. D’Angelo Russell

Minnesota Timberwolves | PG

Previous rank: 26

2020-21 projected RPM: 0.8

One big question: After an All-Star season with the Nets, Russell’s move to the Warriors was never a great fit. He’s a much more natural fit in Minnesota playing the lead ball handler alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. He can be a bit of a gunner, and that’s the question for Russell’s next step: Can he elevate teammates, particularly younger ones, and be the linchpin in Minnesota’s development? — Young (PLUS)

This description seems pretty friendly for a guy you dropped 43 SPOTS in your rankings from the year before. Talk about a “fall from grace”, this D’Angelo Russell ranking is “disGRACEful”. Take a look below… Lonzo Ball is ranked higher than Russell at #54.

Russell seems to have the cerebral type of basketball mind that’s needed to help a player with so much talent, be great. Unlike at his previous stops, DLo will get every opportunity with the Minnesota Timberwolves, to be the best player he can. Rosas and Co are building the entire team around him and his best friend, Karl-Anthony Towns.

Speaking of Karl-Anthony Towns, he, Malik Beasley and rookie Anthony Edwards are the other Wolves who could hit this list, when ESPN releases their higher-rated NBA players. Towns ranked #17 overall both of the last two seasons and peaked at #12 in 2017. I’d expect him to drop in 2020 but we’ll see how far he falls.

I wouldn’t have expected to see Malik ahead of Russell but I also would have expected him on this list, so I don’t know what ESPN is thinking with him.

If Ball is #54… then we’ll see where ESPN ranks Anthony Edwards.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan