The Denver Nuggets have a great young core. But is it as good as the hyped Minnesota Timberwolves core?
The hype surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves heading into the 2016-17 campaign was palpable.
Karl-Anthony Towns was coming off a spectacular rookie campaign, Zach LaVine was becoming more than just a slam dunk champion, Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng were coming into their own and, highly respected head coach Tom Thibodeau was expected to instill defense and discipline after joining the team in the off-season.
Some experts predicted the Wolves to make the playoffs, which, was actually a respectable selection. Nobody quite knew how to rate the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies were another year older, questions were raised as to whether the Trail Blazers over achieved the year prior and, the Pelicans simply didn’t have enough to go with Anthony Davis.
With a genuine superstar in Karl-Anthony Towns leading the way, the Wolves were absolutely in with a chance of making the playoffs.
Fast forward to today, Minnesota currently sit in the 11th spot in the Western Conference with a 28-40 record. They are 4.5 games back of the eighth seed with under a month to play and are seemingly set to miss the post season for the 13th consecutive time.
While the Wolves have under achieved in some experts eyes, the Denver Nuggets have done the exact opposite. There was very little interest in the Nuggets at the start of the season, with many placing Denver to finish in the 10-13 range of the Western Conference. Hoops Hype even went as far as to predict Denver would finish dead last in the West. Yes, even behind the Lakers and Suns.
Denver and Minnesota were in similar situations entering the 2016-17 season. Both franchises were hoping to make the playoffs after spending the previous few seasons building up highly talented young core’s through the draft and trade. This was the year each team anticipated a jump up into genuine playoff contention.
More from Mile High Maniac
- Denver Nuggets Steal Ducks Darling Bol Bol in Second Round
- Denver Nuggets: Season Grades for the 2018-19 Players
- The 2019-2020 Broncos Depth At Tight End Could Be A Huge Strength To This Offense
- Broncos Position Battles to Watch as Preseason Approaches
- Denver Nuggets: Reflections on an Incredible Season
So why are Denver the eighth seed and Minnesota aren’t? Could it be that Denver has a better young core than the Timberwolves?
But it’s more complicated than that.
The Timberwolves are actually better than what their record suggests. They have had a lot of issues holding onto leads in the second half of games, particularly in the early part of the season. Minnesota gave up a number of double digit leads late in contests. Had they held onto even half of them, they may find themselves within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the West.
The other factor that must be taken into account when assessing if Denver has a better young core than Minnesota based off this season’s records is that Denver have much more established veterans.
Outside of Ricky Rubio, the Wolves don’t have any established, experienced players who are currently in their prime. The Nuggets have plenty that contribute large chunks on a nightly basis. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried and Jameer Nelson are just some of the veteran guys sprinkled throughout Denver’s young core. They undoubtedly have contributed to the Nuggets’ success and are a large part of why Denver are in the eight spot.
With all that factored in, do Denver actually have a better young core than Minnesota?
Let’s take a look.