Rudy Gobert recently liked a tweet that called his offseason trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves the worst in history. The tweet read as follows:
"Rudy Gobert trade is going to go down as the worst trade in the history of the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves"
For the uninitated, the Timberwolves made perhaps the biggest move of the offseason by acquiring Gobert from the Utah Jazz.
The full trade included the following players: Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Leandro Bolmaro. Utah also got the draft rights to Walker Kessler and Minnesota’s 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks and a 2026 first-round swap.
The ceiling for Minnesota Timberwolves with Rudy Gobert
Following the Gobert trade, the narrative around the Minnesota Timberwolves changed a lot. They went from a sixth-seed/play-in team waiting for their top picks to flourish to a team that could possibly make a deep run in the playoffs.
Their defense had been lacking in the years prior. The Timberwoves were bottom 10 in defensive rating in the 2019-20, and fourth-worst during the 2020-21 season.
With former top overall pick Anthony Edwards vying for a spot in the table of the elite two-way wing players, the Wolves improved.
They were right outside the top 10 defenses in the league last season, finishing with a rating of 112.2, the 13th best in the league.
Those numbers, however, are expected to skyrocket this season.
Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is a top-five defense in and of himself. The 7-foot-1 center carried the Utah Jazz' defense as Donovan Mitchell carried their offense for several seasons.
So, does the addition of Rudy Gobert make the Timberwolves significantly better?
While Gobert could improve the defense, the Timberwolves are still reliant on the development of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.
On the defensive end, a case could be made that Gobert was brought on because Towns wants to play as a forward. The downside of such an arrangement is that neither of these players are incredible perimeter defenders.
However, numbers say that Towns is slightly better when defending 3-point shots.
In 2021-22, his DFG% (the opponents' field-goal percentage on shots when the player is defending the shot) was a staggering 61.4% for shots within six feet of the rim, and 52.3% on two-point shots.
This simply implies that players shot 52.3% on two-pointers when defended by Towns. While they shot 61.4% on Towns when they took a shot within six feet of the rim.
His DFG% for 3-pointers, however, is 35.5%, which is not particularly impressive, given that the league average 3FG% was also 35.5%, but is certainly better than those on two-pointers.
More than 15 feet away from the rim, players made 37.6% of their shots on Towns.
Whether this unit can maintain their defensive growth from 2020-21 to 2021-22, after trading players like Patrick Beverley remains to be seen.