Minnesota Timberwolves 2022 Trade Deadline Wishlist: How Can the Franchise Get Karl-Anthony Towns to the Playoffs?

The Minnesota Timberwolves are amidst one of their most promising seasons in years. With the pairing of star center Karl-Anthony Towns and rising guard Anthony Edwards, it appears the T-Wolves may be onto something.

But what can the franchise do at the trade deadline to get Towns a deserved playoff berth?

Towns and Edwards are leading what seems to be a Wolves re-birth

The Minnesota Timberwolves trade deadline wish list should include anything to help Karl-Anthony Towns reach the postseason.
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves stands during the national anthem before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. | Soobum Im/Getty Images

Minnesota appears to be locked into a playoff spot for only the second time since Kevin Garnett brought the franchise to the Western Conference Finals in 2004.

The Timberwolves are seventh in the West as of Jan. 19, with a record of 22-22. They’re only one game behind the sixth-place Nuggets and three back of the fifth-place Dallas Mavericks.

However, the Los Angeles Lakers are also 22-22, and the Clippers are only a half-game back (although the Clips could be without Kawhi Leonard or Paul George the rest of the season).

Statistically, 2021-22 may not be Towns’ best season as a pro. He’s averaging 24.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.3 stocks (steals plus blocks). He’s also been his usually-efficient self with shooting splits of 52/41/81.

But there’s something different about Minnesota’s franchise player this year that goes beyond the box score. KAT has always been one of the most offensively gifted big men in NBA history, but he appears more aggressive than he’s been in the past.

He’s put more emphasis on defense and playing bully-ball in the post this year, as he said in a piece on The Athletic:

“I think it’s something that I need to utilize a little more,” Towns said. “Everyone knows me for shooting, but you can’t be one-dimensional.”

Edwards has been a revelation as well, perhaps the best running mate the Kentucky product has had in his career outside of one disastrous Jimmy Butler season.

The second-year guard is averaging 22.2 points and has become a better shooter than he was in his rookie season, hitting 44.3% from the floor and 37.2% from three.

There’s a foundation for Minnesota to build upon. Now it’s a matter of putting the right pieces around KAT and Ant-Man.

The Minnesota Timberwolves trade deadline wish list includes a facilitating point guard and a defensive-minded big

The albatross next to Towns, and now especially with Edwards in the fold, has been D’Angelo Russell.

The former Ohio State star has always been more of a combo guard than a pure point guard, more of a scorer than a facilitator.

To Russell’s credit, he is trying to find his place alongside Minnesota’s two building blocks. He’s dishing out seven assists per game for just the second time in his seven-year career, and he’s taken a backseat to both in the scoring column.

Still, Towns and Edwards would benefit from playing with a lower-usage, more passive floor general. The white whale is Ben Simmons if the Wolves can pry him from Philly. Toronto’s Goran Dragic could be an option, and an interesting addition could be Denver’s Facundo Campazzo.

Even if he’s nothing more than a reserve behind Russell, Campazzo has shown flashes of passing flare and playmaking ability and is taking fewer than six shot attempts per game in 22.2 minutes with the Nuggets, which would leave plenty of room for Minnesota’s two stars to continue to own the majority of the offense.

The other most desirable item on the T-Wolves wish list should be a rim-protecting big who would allow Towns to play more on the perimeter in bursts.

The closest thing Minny has to that right now is 22-year-old Jarred Vanderbilt, but the 6-foot-9 forward isn’t the ideal fit here. Perhaps the best option available right now is Brooklyn’s Nic Claxton, who just became expendable for the Nets, according to Bleacher Report.

Campazzo and Claxton wouldn’t cost much, but both would be valuable rotation pieces that fit the Timberwolves’ needs around Towns. It’s worth Minnesota’s time to explore the market for both of them.

With the right additions, Towns and the Timberwolves have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs

Midway through his seventh season, KAT has made one postseason appearance. The Wolves snuck into the playoffs in 2018 as the Western Conference’s eight seed before being bounced in seven games by the Houston Rockets.

Towns knows that he hasn’t done enough to carry the franchise, at least to this point in his career. That’s his responsibility, and he recognizes it and is trying to change the narrative around himself.

“For this team to grow, I have to grow as well,” Towns said in the Athletic piece. “I’ve got to get better and better and better throughout this season.”

There’s something different about KAT, and he does appear to be infusing a new type of energy into his game. If he continues to do that — and gets a bit more help — he should reach the playoffs for the second time in his career and have a much better chance at making an actual run this time around.

All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.

RELATED: Anthony Edwards Makes $10.2 Million but Still Weirdly Uses an Outdated Piece of Technology: ‘That’s My Baby’