The Timberwolves are on pace for one of their best seasons — maybe the best. Their .709 win percentage at the All-Star break is slightly better than the 2003-04 team (.707) posted before the franchise's longest playoff run.

The 2003-04 team, coached by Flip Saunders, had an MVP and Hall of Famer in Kevin Garnett and gained the No. 1 seed in the West.

This year's deep Wolves could prove that the whole is greater than the sum of (several very good) parts the team had 20 years ago until Sam Cassell's hip injury before the 2004 Western Conference finals loss to the Lakers dashed the Wolves' championship hopes.

The Timberwolves are 39-16 after 55 games this season, best in the West; the 2003-04 Wolves were 40-15 at a similar point on their way to a franchise-record 58-victory season. They also each had two players and the coaching staff representing the West in the All-Star Game.

It's difficult to compare statistics across 20 years because of just how different the NBA is today. Teams and players are far more efficient at shooting now and shoot more from long range, leading to higher-scoring games.

For example, this season's Timberwolves hold their opponents to a league-low 106.7 points per game, but in 2004′s lower-scoring league, that would've been one of the worst defenses in the league.

Garnett's Timberwolves were strong on both sides of the floor, finishing fifth in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating. The 2004 team's net rating of 6.1, which measures how much a team outscores its opponent by per 100 possessions, is comparable to the present Wolves' 7.4 net rating, each ranking in the top four in the league.

Where Garnett's Wolves in '04 had balance, the 2024 Timberwolves have skewed heavily toward defensive dominance. They hang around the league average in offense (17th), but Minnesota's top-ranked defense this season is more than seven points per 100 possessions better than the league average.

Both squads also rank among the league's best in shooting percentage and three-point percentage, despite being in the bottom third of the league in attempts per game from deep. They each held their opponents to very low shooting splits, too, with this season's Rudy Gobert-led unit forcing the lowest shooting percentage in the league. The 2004 Wolves were not too far behind, with the fourth lowest.

We can't directly go about comparing Anthony Edwards to Cassell or Gobert to Garnett, but win shares are a cumulative statistic that can be utilized to see where players rank in relation to their peers. The complicated formula calculates how much each player contributed to winning during a given season, using offensive and defensive rating, wins and league pace.

Garnett led the league in win shares in 2004, with Cassell finishing not too far behind in fourth. Following the two All-Stars was a massive drop-off, as Fred Hoiberg ranked 69th, Latrell Sprewell was 79th and Trenton Hassell was 124th. While the 2023-24 Wolves might not be as top-heavy, the depth of the rest of their starters makes up for it. Gobert ranks fifth, then Karl-Anthony Towns (18th), Mike Conley (22nd) and Edwards (30th) closely trail.

Win shares can be split as well. All four previously listed current Timberwolves starters — plus Naz Reid — rank in the top 25 in terms of defensive win shares, while only Garnett (second) was inside the top 40 among 2004′s players.

That being said, it cannot be understated how dominant Garnett was on defense. His 8.0 defensive win shares nearly double Gobert's league-leading 4.1. Only Ben Wallace, playing for Detroit that same season, has more defensive win shares than Garnett over the past 30 seasons.