Timberwolves’ fans everywhere held their breath when Jimmy Butler went down in the third quarter holding his knee. He would be taken out of the game and did not return. An MRI revealed that Butler suffered a right meniscus injury. He will seek a second opinion and there is no timetable for return.
Minnesota Timberwolves Can Be Fine Without Jimmy Butler
The Wolves currently sit third in the tight Western Conference with a record of 38-26. Only 5.5 games separate the Wolves and the 10th place Utah Jazz. Butler was the main reason for the Wolves’ success, averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5 assists in 56 games this season.
While losing Butler for a significant amount of time would be a huge blow to Minnesota, it is not the end of their season and it is something they can overcome.
Next Man Up
Tom Thibodeau built a team with a lot of depth this past offseason in Minnesota. Butler was the addition that took them to the next level but even without him, this team is pretty good.
Karl Anthony-Towns has blossomed into one of the best players in all of basketball. Towns is averaging 20.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game this season which earned him his first all-star selection. In the two games without Butler, Towns is averaging 24 points and 15 rebounds per game. He is shooting 18-30 from the field during that stretch.
Andrew Wiggins is one of the most dynamic scorers in the game and has been for a few seasons now. Wiggins is averaging 17.7 points per game this season and has the ability to kick it up a notch to make up for Butler. Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson are both eight-year veterans who can provide leadership on and off the court. Teague has surpassed the 20-point mark in both games without Butler.
The Timberwolves next eight games are against teams with winning records, six of which who are currently in the playoffs. They face off with Western Conference foes such as the Portland Trail Blazers, Jazz, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers. These are games that are very important for playoff seeding.
Of their final 18 games, 12 are against teams with winning records, but most teams that the Wolves are still better than. Minnesota should not be panicking about this tough stretch to finish the season, this is good experience for all of their young players. This is an opportunity to play against quality competition without Butler to prepare for the postseason.
This is a team that will still make the postseason. Maybe not as the three seed but they will be in and can make some noise once they get there. They will have the chance to play at home against the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Rockets before the season ends. Wins against teams like this can give the Wolves confidence and that can be dangerous heading into the playoffs.
Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the main reasons why the Timberwolves can be fine without Jimmy Butler. (Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)