In the span of a couple of weeks during a whirlwind spring, the Timberwolves and Wild pulled off what looked to be coaching coups. Both teams, who finished out 2015-16 with interim coaches, landed guys near the top of most lists of best available coaches. Because of the timing of the hires — Tom Thibodeau for the Wolves first, then Bruce Boudreau for the Wild — we'll probably think of them as a duo for years to come. As such, let's check in now with a comparison between the two so far.
A tough-minded coach who brought his former team, the Bulls, to prominence with a defensive approach and (at times) heavy minutes for his best players.
Reputation when hired
A masterful regular-season coach with the ability to push the right buttons both tactically and personally. The knock? A career record of 1-7 in playoff Game 7s.
Take a gifted young team and help players develop in several areas — most notably on the defensive end — in order to help the Wolves end a long playoff drought and become a contender.
His mission in Minnesota
Take an experienced team that has been to the playoffs four consecutive seasons and elevate it to another level via a combination of different systems and better chemistry.
There is some evidence that his message is sinking in after the Wolves rallied to defeat his old team, the Bulls, in their most recent game.
The good so far
The Wild is among the Western Conference leaders in points and has generally shown more consistency than in past years.
The Wolves are just 7-18, one of the worst records in the NBA and a far cry from expectations. In many games this season, Minnesota's defensive acumen and effort have been lacking — and Thibodeau has looked miserable as a result.
The bad so far
Lurking within the Wild's conference-best goal differential is a heavy reliance on the brilliance of goalie Devan Dubnyk. If he starts to regress, the results could follow.
The grade so far
Nonstop barking during a game.
Nonstop talking at all times.
Leading scorers — Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine — are all 21 years old, and Thibodeau is just 25 games into a lucrative long-term contract. He'll have time to get this turned around, even if it doesn't happen as quickly as some would have hoped.
The long haul
Boudreau has a nice contract, too, but probably a smaller window for success given the ages of many of the key Wild players.