Among the select podcasts in my regular rotation is The Lowe Post, an NBA podcast hosted by ESPN's Zach Lowe.
(Daily Delivery, the podcast I do, should be in EVERYONE'S rotation. And yes, I listen to almost every episode after it goes live because I want to 1) get better and 2) become horrified by the sound of my own voice and/or small editing glitches I missed).
But I digress. The latest Lowe Post features Doris Burke and includes a significant segment on the Timberwolves, which turned a normal listen into a must-listen.
And then I listened back a second time to bring you, dear reader, a few of the highlights if you just don't have the time to listen for yourselves while you catch up on Daily Delivery episodes.
Here's what stands out:
*Lowe seems genuinely confused by some of the Wolves' statistical measures, but he has seen enough through 22 games and an 11-11 record to say this: "There's such a gap (between) 10 and 11, if they don't make the play-in it's a disaster and-or somebody got hurt."
That's a fairly bold proclamation at this point in the year, but Lowe has a point. With 10 teams getting to continue their season beyond 82 games — the top six make the playoffs, and 7-10 enter the play-in round in each conference — the Wolves are well-positioned thanks to their own increased acumen and the nature of the Western Conference.
The No. 11 seed as of now is Sacramento at 9-14. It's hard to imagine the Kings, Spurs, Thunder, Rockets or Pelicans topping, say, 36 wins this season. That leaves the Wolves with a relatively low bar to cross to advance past the regular season for just the second time since 2004, particularly given how they have played lately.
*Both Lowe and Burke like a lot of what they have seen from the Wolves, particularly a defense that is No. 7 in efficiency at the moment, and Burke agrees that the Wolves need to take a step forward this season.
"I don't know if it's my eyes. I feel like they're getting more defensively from their big three stars. I'd be interested in coach (Chris) Finch's interpretation of that," Burke said. "They have to make the playoffs this year in my mind. They have to start to get there. It'll be a fascinating next month for the Minnesota Timberwolves."
Indeed, as our Chris Hine wrote the other day, the schedule this month is daunting. Just one December opponent (Denver) has a losing record as of now. And they are facing some of the league's best offenses in upcoming games, which will test just how much the defense has improved.
To that end, Lowe points out that the Wolves have allowed the second-lowest three-point shooting percentage in the league this season. Regression in that stat is common, though the eye test suggests the Wolves do a good job closing out on shooters.
*Both Lowe and Burke raved about Anthony Edwards' athleticism. Lowe in particular seems sold on the upside of the Wolves overall.
"I don't think 11-11 is a fluke. I think they're solid," Lowe said. "Everyone in the West other than the top three is a mess or injured. If you told me I'll look up in three weeks and see Minnesota sixth or fourth in the West, it wouldn't seem insane to me."