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HomeBasketballNBACan Anthony Edwards keep the Timberwolves afloat in Towns' absence?

Can Anthony Edwards keep the Timberwolves afloat in Towns’ absence?

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March 7 had the potential to become a day Minnesota Timberwolves’ fans came to remember with great disdain.

Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns tore the meniscus in his left knee, the team announced on Thursday. Towns will have surgery, and will be re-evaluated in about a month.

To make matters worse, Wolves All-Star guard Anthony Edwards sprained his ankle seconds into the team’s Thursday night game against the Indiana Pacers. Edwards limped to the locker room before returning. Later in the game, the 22-year-old Edwards took a nasty fall but played on and had a fantastic game, finishing with 44 points and a phenomenal end-game sequence.

Minnesota’s likelihood to have an extended stay in the postseason was already in question. They’re a top-flight defensive team and Edwards carries them for stretches, but the Wolves’ late-game offense is clunky and the team’s tendency to make dumb plays continues.

A healthy Minnesota team, though, could finish as the No. 1 seed in the west, which would give them home court in every series through the West Finals. The Wolves right now hold the No. 1 spot out West. Home court would serve a team like the Wolves, without much of a playoff history, and make them more competitive.

Towns’ injury has a chance to be a killer. Minnesota on Thursday started a six-game road trip. The Wolves this month have games in Cleveland, in LA against the Lakers and Clippers, two games against Denver, another home game against the Cavaliers and a home game against Golden State. Eight of Minnesota’s remaining games in March are against playoff or play-in teams. That’s a tough stretch to get through without one of your more impactful players.

Towns is averaging 22.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He’s got shooting splits of .506/.423/.874. Towns is having a career year from 3 and from the free throw line.

Towns has always been a skilled offensive player. His defense has stood out this year too.

The 7-foot-tall Towns this season is second in the league in defensive win shares, behind teammate Rudy Gobert and just ahead of Edwards. Towns this second is 22nd in the league in defensive rating. When you account for guys who play on a regular basis, that jumps to seventh.

Edwards’ ascension has pushed Towns into a secondary role — one he’s better suited for. Towns’ value to the team has become understated, though.

Edwards’ play in Thursday’s win was a signal to the team that he believes things will be OK while Towns is out. That’s no slight toward Towns. It shows the confidence Edwards has in himself and his teammates. Edwards on Thursday showed a fire I’d never seen in him. Edwards is already a star, a potential All-NBA player with the hottest new signature sneaker in the league.

It’ll be largely up to Edwards to keep the Wolves ahead of the rest of the pack in the West.

NBA Power Rankings
1. Boston Celtics
2. Denver Nuggets
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
4. Minnesota Timberwolves
5. Milwaukee Bucks
6. LA Clippers
7. Phoenix Suns
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
9. Miami Heat
10. Orlando Magic
11. New Orleans Pelicans
12. Sacramento Kings
13. Indiana Pacers
14. Dallas Mavericks
15. LA Lakers
16. New York Knicks
17. Golden State Warriors
18. Philadelphia 76ers
19. Chicago Bulls
20. Atlanta Hawks
21. Houston Rockets
22. Utah Jazz
23. Memphis Grizzlies
24. Brooklyn Nets
25. Toronto Raptors
26. Charlotte Hornets
27. Portland Trail Blazers
28. San Antonio Spurs
29. Detroit Pistons
30. Washington Wizards

Last week’s rankings

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