See more of the story

The Timberwolves have already turned heads this season by ensuring they will carry the best record in the Western Conference into the NBA All-Star break.

But for a franchise that hasn't won a playoff series in 20 years, raising a national profile doesn't happen overnight.

Those efforts, however, will get a big boost in one day next week. ESPN will soon announce plans for a "Timberwolves: All-Access" day on Feb. 23 leading up to a nationally televised 9 p.m. game at Target Center that night against the Bucks, Minnesota's first after the break.

Among the Wolves-centered ESPN content that day:

* Stephen A. Smith will co-host "First Take" from Target Center -- a show that will include a live interview with Karl-Anthony Towns -- and will also appear on several other ESPN shows on site.

* Malika Andrews will have a pre-recorded interview with Anthony Edwards, while Naz Reid will join the noon SportsCenter live.

* Rudy Gobert will conduct a film session.

* ESPN will have behind-the-scenes access from practices, pregame, halftime and postgame. It is also expected that Timberwolves co-owner Alex Rodriguez will join the broadcast during the game.

I talked about all of this and more on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast as well.

It's the fifth time ESPN has done this for an NBA team, and they only do one per season. So why pick the Timberwolves?

"When you watch the Minnesota Timberwolves, you're watching a team on the rise," David Roberts, ESPN's head of event and studio production, told the Star Tribune this week. "In some ways, they've been under the radar based on who people normally expect to see. Fans need to get to know this team."

ESPN has taken a similar approach with some of its All-Access choices in the past, having previously featured the Celtics, Grizzlies, Raptors and 76ers.

The Wolves enter Thursday's game in Portland with a 38-16 record and are battling for the top seed in the West. Edwards and Towns will represent the Wolves at the All-Star Game this weekend, while Chris Finch will coach the West team.

"Minnesota a special market," Roberts said. "The Timberwolves have earned this showcasing opportunity. Stephen A. is looking forward to being there. I just hope there's a lot of snow and cold for him."

Here are four more things to know today:

* Chip Scoggins joined Thursday's podcast on a number of subjects, including this one: If the Gophers and Vikings have disappointing seasons in 2024, which coach is more likely to be on the hot seat: P.J. Fleck or Kevin O'Connell?

* The Wild's goaltending has been bad this season, but it's been better lately -- including a stout performance from Marc-Andre Fleury in Wednesday's win over Arizona.

* I enjoyed reading Patrick Reusse's column on Twins pitcher Louie Varland.

* Friday's podcast is expected to include an interview with the Star Tribune's Rachel Blount ahead of this weekend's huge World Cup cross-country ski event in Minneapolis.