Talent and cohesiveness.

You can't win in the NBA without the former and you can't win big in the NBA without the latter.

How does either word apply to the Timberwolves, who just completed a typically lousy season, made yet another midseason coaching change and might not land a top pick in the 2021 draft?

Objectively, this season was a failure. The Wolves began with modest hope, then finished 23-49.

Subjectively, you can see the makings of a quality team, an entertaining team, perhaps the best Wolves team since the roster included not only Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell, but also Ndudi Ebi, Latrell Sprewell, Quincy Lewis, Fred Hoiberg, Oliver Miller, Michael Olowokandi, Mark Madsen and "the other" Ervin Johnson, just in case you forgot how any given roster can look like the cast of a "Survivor"-like game show.

Making the dangerous assumption that the Wolves will be relatively healthy next season, their starting five — even without a top-three draft pick — would be D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Karl-Anthony Towns.

That's more than good enough in the categories of athletic ability, three-point shooting and ballhandling, and the Wolves' improvement on defense toward the end of this season might be an indication that defense won't be the embarrassment that it was before Ryan Saunders was fired.

There is enough talent here to support a playoff team. And while the Wolves have been burned by a dozen so-called saviors, from Stephon Marbury to Isaiah Rider to Jimmy Butler, what this team has in Edwards is a 19-year-old who improved dramatically during the course of the season, was one of 11 NBA players to play in all 72 games, is a spectacular athlete, is beloved by his teammates and promises to work toward being "a star" this summer.

"You're talking about a 19-year-old who's late to the sport, a guy who … really is just so raw," Wolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas said. "But his character, his talent, his physical tools, what he's been able to do this year, if you look back in history, it's what great players do."

As for cohesiveness, perhaps the two most important developments of this season occurred in the past three months.

Coach Chris Finch displayed an ability to improve his team's defense and ball movement, while apparently commanding the respect of his players.

Russell returned from injury and destroyed concerns that he would not play well with Edwards.

Finch looks like a quality NBA head coach. Russell looks like not only a team player, but one who revels in setting up his teammates.

Russell is here because of his relationship with Towns, and the two play well together. What Russell proved over the past two months, as he dished to Edwards and celebrated another of Edwards' spectacular dunks, was that he is as unselfish as he is skilled.

"I like to play off other guys," Russell said Monday. "Trying to see what other guys' strengths and weaknesses are, that's what elevated my game."

Add Beasley's three-point shooting to this offense, and the Timberwolves will be a dangerous offensive team.

Give Finch a full offseason with this group, and this could become a competent defensive team.

For once, the Timberwolves don't need saviors and miracles, just more experience and growth.

And if they become a perennial power, they will look back to this draft with appreciation.

In what was supposed to be an underwhelming draft, the Wolves took the probable Rookie of the Year, Edwards, with the first pick.

And after decades of blowing their high picks and throwing away their lesser picks, the Wolves added McDaniels in the same draft, plus Leandro Bolmaro, a wing with size and shooting ability who is playing in Spain.

They also built a young, promising bench around Naz Reid, Jaylen Nowell, Josh Okogie and Jarred Vanderbilt.

This is one of the most promising and entertaining bad teams I've ever seen.

Maybe a year from now, the Timberwolves will have removed one key word from that sentence.

Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com