Timberwolves’ Turnaround with 12-Highest Payroll, 5th-Youngest Roster

    • The Wolves are the fifth-youngest team in the NBA and worked with only the 12th-highest payroll ($137.1M).
    • Ye they improved by 23 wins, continuing to take a chance on a relatively unknown second-year head coach and a first-time GM.

The 7-seed Timberwolves have quietly executed a remarkable turnaround — and are playing Tuesday for their first postseason berth since 2018.

The Wolves are the fifth-youngest team (24.5 YRS) in the NBA, working with only the 12th-highest payroll ($137.1M), and haven’t made any significant moves from last season.

Yet they improved by 23 wins this campaign by continuing to take a chance on a relatively unknown second-year head coach and a first-time GM — and trusting the evolution of their Big Three.

  • Hired in February 2021, Chris Finch coached the team to its best win total since ’18, earning his multiyear deal signed on Monday.
  • Sachin Gupta was promoted in September 2021 after former GM Gersson Rosas was fired; the analytics-driven executive created the ESPN Trade Machine in 2006.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns (24.6 PPG), Anthony Edwards (21.3 PPG), and D’Angelo Russell (18.1 PPG) are all younger than 26.

Health played a big factor: Towns ($31.7M) and Russell ($27.3M) played together in only 25 games from 2019-2021 (13-12). They’re 39-24 when they’re both on the floor this season.

The change started from the top in April 2021, when governing owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore bought the team for $1.5 billion

A few months later, they fired Rosas for an inappropriate workplace relationship and fostering a toxic culture — paving the way for this improbable turnaround.

Minnesota is a small home favorite (-2.5) against the Clippers to advance to the first round against Memphis.