JUST IN:Minnesota is evoking the same dubious aura of a top seed as the Utah Jazz did a few years back.

Next to the OKC Thunder, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been one of the biggest surprises of the NBA campaign. They’ve been in control of or hovering near first place in the Western Conference for much of the season. But we may have seen a little bit of foreshadowing brought to us by Clippers star Paul George recently when he crossed up Anthony Edwards, ultimately sending the young man to the canvas in a hurry. Let’s just keep it real, that’s very likely to be the entire squad come playoff time when they’re bounced unceremoniously early from postseason contention.

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It’s not that the Timberwolves aren’t good, but they feel very Utah Jazz-ish circa 2021. Utah ended with the best record in the Association that year and found themselves ousted by the Clippers in the second round with Kawhi Leonard missing most of that series. Anytime a No. 1 seed goes out before the conference finals it’s a disappointment. This year’s Timberwolves give off those vibes.

Despite crumbling to the floor in the clip above and knocking over his teammates like dominos, Edwards is the best player in Minnesota and has the most upside. Karl-Anthony Towns is really good, but he’s too concerned with shooting threes and other ill-advised shots off-balance for no good reason.

Then there’s Rudy Gobert. One of the greatest rim protectors of his era as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, but once we cross that threshold from regular to postseason, everything changes. Teams get Gobert out on the perimeter, run that pick-n-roll, and put his ass on ice skates. He’s completely ineffective at that point and rendered a non-factor. Since he’s not a big scoring threat, once that happens it’s hard to keep him on the court too long.

Based on current play-in standings, Minnesota would face either the Mavs, Kings, Lakers or Warriors in the first round. Golden State and LA have both struggled this season, but it isn’t inconceivable to say either one of those teams could “sneak up” and put the boots to Minnesota in the first round. The same goes for the Kings and Mavs. It’s not a foregone conclusion that the Wolves thrash any of these teams.

But let’s say Minnesota gets past the opening round as all No. 1 seeds should. The 4-5 matchup in the West currently features the Nuggets and Suns. If it’s the Nuggets who advance, Minnesota might get swept back up north in a snow flurry. If Phoenix was to somehow make it past Denver (doubtful), Minnesota would still be in for a tough series and eventual exit.

During the 2021 regular season, Utah was one of the better three-point shooting teams in the NBA. In fact, they led the league in attempts (43) and makes (16.7) per game while finishing fourth in percentage. Minnesota isn’t shooting as many threes as the Jazz a few years ago, but they are ranked second in the league, making 39.3 percent. That Jazz team was first in point differential (+9.3) while these Wolves are third (+6.7).

The fact is, this Minnesota team doesn’t have that player (yet) that teams fear in a seven-game format. Neither did the Jazz during the ’21 playoffs. There’s no Nikola Jokić, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, LeBron James or anyone near that stature in Minnesota. Edwards is good, but he still has a ways to go. Many of you will view this as hating, but it’s simply the truth. Rudy and KAT aren’t pumping fear into the hearts of opponents the night before a big postseason showdown. 

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