Andrew Wiggins seems happy playing for the Golden State Warriors, citing their "positive" culture and even praising former Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau — one of those sentences you didn't see coming.
He might be playing his best basketball, logging the fewest minutes per game of his career but increasing his offensive efficiency and defensive effort, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr is pushing him to become an all-NBA defensive player — another of those phrases you didn't see coming.
The Timberwolves lost to Wiggins and the Warriors on Monday and play in Oakland again on Wednesday night while trying to climb out of the basement of the Western Conference. Wiggins is playing alongside Steph Curry and Draymond Green and likely will be in the playoffs this year.
Which leads to a sentence everyone can see coming: The best kind of Timberwolf to be is a former Timberwolf.
Wiggins is thriving, relatively speaking.
Thibodeau got to collect large Timberwolves paychecks then become coach of the New York Knicks. Yes, he got fired. He's also the only Wolves coach to reach the playoffs since ... well, let's call it "The old days." Now he's coaching in a city that likes him and has a previously horrid Knicks team overachieving at 8-10.
Jimmy Butler went from Minnesota to Philadelphia to Miami, where he took the Heat to the NBA Finals and is a folk hero.
Zach LaVine went to Chicago in the Butler trade and is averaging 27 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and .6 blocks — all career bests.
Tyus Jones is averaging career bests in points, rebounds, assists and steals for Memphis.
And, of course, the greatest example of an ex-Wolf making good is Kevin Garnett, who went from not wanting to leave Target Center to not wanting to ever come back, even to be honored as easily the greatest player in franchise history.
It's easy to lament the past when you're a Timberwolves fan. If Thibodeau hadn't traded LaVine for Butler, the Wolves probably wouldn't have made the playoffs in 2018 but would be better off today.
LaVine is exactly the kind of wing scorer the Wolves have been looking for, and they had to make a trade to acquire a smaller, less-productive version of LaVine in Malik Beasley. And LaVine has never been arrested for pointing a gun at a family.
There is also an example on the current Wolves roster of a player whose departure should not have been lamented: Ricky Rubio.
The Wolves shouldn't have drafted him, and they should not have brought him back.
I was in favor of the trade that added him to the current roster. Rubio, 30, should have provided veteran leadership and floor direction to a young team, and given the Wolves either a guard who could play alongside D'Angelo Russell or at least be a quality backup point guard.
That was the theory. In reality, Rubio has been terrible. He's in his 10th NBA season and still hasn't fixed his shot. On Monday night, the Warriors dared him to score in the first quarter, and his poor shooting allowed the Warriors to build a lead with which they would coast the rest of the night.
Rubio is making 20% of his three-point shots and has a career-worst effective field goal percentage of 37.7. He ranks 241st of 335 players in John Hollinger's PER (Player Efficiency Ratings).
There is no longer any mystery as to why two rising teams, Utah and Phoenix, were happy to dump Rubio. Having a pass-only point guard in the modern NBA doesn't work.
I know, I know — Wolves fans like his hair and flair, but Rubio is not the player he was supposed to be for this year's Wolves team, the player he needs to be. Unlike so many other former Wolves, his eventual departure should not prompt tears.