The Timberwolves are looking to give the NBA a wake-up call

It was a July afternoon and Anthony Edwards had just returned from the gym. He lay down to take a nap and his phone started ringing nonstop. After about the 10th time, he finally checked to see who was calling and it was Karl-Anthony Towns.

“Brother, what do you want?” Edwards said Monday, recalling the summer conversation.

“Didn’t you see what just happened? The municipalities responded. “We just traded for Rudy.”

The Rudy Gobert trade not only served as a wake-up call for Edwards’ afternoon slumber, but for a franchise that’s been dormant for the majority of the past two decades.

For the first time since the Kevin Garnett era, the Minnesota Timberwolves have high expectations and as they gather for training camp, their eyes are on the transformation from one of the NBA’s doormats to a legitimate championship contender.

“When you look at the roster and the talent we have in this group, it’s pretty incredible,” Gobert told reporters on Monday. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by a group of guys who I think can accomplish anything. Now it’s all about developing the right habits and continuing to learn. Keep improving every day and I think the sky’s the limit for this band.”

A three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Gobert is expected to bolster the Timberwolves’ defense and turn them into a top-six team in the Western Conference.

“It might help us,” Edwards said of the trade. “Maybe we get beaten up a few times and we don’t have to worry [head coach Chris Finch] get upset because you have someone to protect the paint.”

After watching Ja Morant get into the paint at will in the playoffs, new president of basketball operations Tim Connelly knew he had to make it a priority and so used a silver bullet to bring Gobert to Minnesota. .

It’s not just the defense that should benefit from the arrival of Gobert. Gobert kicked off an attacking game in France’s charge at the EuroBasket Championships and his presence could do wonders for D’Angelo Russell.

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“I think the trade was super big for D’Lo because he has a big turnover and likes to play in the midrange,” Edwards said. “I don’t even worry about where I am offensively when D’Lo has the ball. As long as Rudy is on the court with him, I think we’re in good hands with D’Lo.”

Edwards’ words come with precedent. During the 2018-19 season, Russell had the best season of his career playing with Jarrett Allen and the Brooklyn Nets. Averaging 21.1 points and 7.0 assists, Russell made his only All-Star appearance and turned it into a big free agent deal the following summer.

Russell’s emergence could have a residual effect on Edwards, who is looking for his own breakthrough this season.

After a strong rookie season, Edwards set career highs at every level a year ago. Although he took a step closer to stardom, he admitted that the way the season ended drove him crazy.

“I wanted to adopt the mindset of just being crazy,” Edwards explained. “The way we lost [against Memphis], we won about four of five games and we lost in the last five or six minutes of the fourth quarter. I kind of took it personally with myself by just being better. To be able to hit those shots in the clutch, get in better shape and just work on my game in general.”

After working with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, Edwards said he expects to be a better shooter and rebounder this season. Both would be a positive development for the Timberwolves, but it all comes down to integrating Gobert.

The Frenchman told reporters he had several conversations with Finch and Connelly throughout the summer and was impressed with their commitment to turning the Timberwolves into a championship-caliber side. Although he knows there is work to be done, Gobert believes the foundation is being laid in Minnesota.

“He’s really trying his best to try to build a championship organization,” Gobert said of Connelly. “That’s why we’re here. You can feel every detail is important, whether it’s nutrition, whether it’s bodywork. Anything this organization can do, they’re doing it right now and you can feel it. . Something is happening. “

Related: Edwards Says He’ll Do ‘Whatever It Takes To Make It Right’

Related: The NBA Is Full Of Big Threes: Where Do KAT, Ant & Gobert Rank?

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