This isn’t going to be one of those “same old Timberwolves” laments that keep cropping up on Twitter in the midst of Minnesota’s 1-3 start. That would be easy, I suppose, since we’ve seen a full season play out the way this one has started — narrow losses, blowout wins, great individual play — in the 40-victory 2013-14 season.
But it’s too early. There are too may variables. This is not that.
But this year, so far, is this: four games in which you can see a great deal of individual improvement without seeing yet how it all fits together in a team concept.
You can see that Karl-Anthony Towns worked tirelessly in the offseason, the fruits of that labor shining through in Thursday’s 32-point, 14-rebound effort. You can see how Andrew Wiggins has improved his range after his smooth and confident 2-for-3 shooting from three-point range Thursday.
You can see how Zach LaVine wants to take over games. You can see what Kris Dunn has to offer.
What you also see, though, is a group of individuals that doesn’t yet know how all of those individual things they’ve all been working on translate to a means to stopping runs, extending leads and closing games. There’s a lot of isolation, no perfect pecking order and a lack of defensive resolve.
It’s almost as if this is a young team playing for a new coach in a new system (and without its starting point guard) — which is to say, that is exactly what the Wolves are, and we shouldn’t be surprised by this even if we can be disappointed.
It’s not a lack of effort. It’s not a lack of talent. It’s a lack of reps, which leads to inconsistency.
When everything clicks, it’s beautiful. When it falls apart, it’s ugly. That’s how you wind up with a 36-point win and three losses by four points or fewer (all of which featured double-digit Wolves leads early).
If it still looks like this in February, let’s worry more.