I asked for questions prior to Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast, and listeners came through in a big way. Perhaps owing to the hot streak of the Timberwolves or my natural inclination to talk a lot about that team, a majority of the questions were Wolves-related. But I got to a couple other subjects as well. Let's run through some of those questions here with the benefit of a little more time to think about them:
Q: I would love to hear your opinion as someone in the media and perhaps a little separated from enthusiastic fan-base optimism: Are the Wolves real title contenders? Media outlets are starting to treat them that way, but I have a hard time moving my expectations past "win a series." — Max
A: I think we have to see the Wolves sustain this level of success for more than a quarter of a season before we know for sure. After all, the same team that has the best record in the NBA after 20 games also hasn't won a playoff series in 20 years. I will say this: They have the ingredients — star power, depth and defense — to make a playoff run. If they can get past the first round, which is absolutely an attainable goal, I could see them winning another round. How would they respond against (likely) more seasoned contenders once the field shrinks? That's what we don't know yet. But there's no harm in dreaming big, especially if they are good enough this season to keep the roster intact for years to come.
Q: Would like to hear a balanced conversation/debate on who the MVP is at the quarter of the season: Gobert, KAT, ANT, Conley? — Michael G.
A: It's interesting because I think the answer is different depending on whether we are talking about the team MVP or someone with legit league MVP aspirations. To me, Mike Conley Jr. is the team MVP. He holds everything together, gets them into their offense, doesn't mind stepping up or sliding into the background and is just an all-around asset. But Anthony Edwards or Rudy Gobert could be bona fide NBA MVP candidates depending on just how well the Wolves play over the final 62 games.
Q: You got your wish with Dobbs starting this Sunday, so when are the Wolves moving KAT-which you also lobbied hard for? — Jeffrey.
A: Indeed, I was pleasantly surprised that the Vikings and Kevin O'Connell decided to give Josh Dobbs the start against the Raiders. And you'll notice I didn't include KAT in the MVP conversation. That said, on Wednesday's podcast Wolves President Tim Connelly reiterated that ownership is willing to have a large payroll if the Wolves are winning big. Some of my off-season insistence about a KAT trade was predicated on future payroll problems and some was based on an awkward lineup fit. Well, he has fit the roster better than I imagined to start this year. If the Wolves make a playoff run — let's say they reach the conference finals — I can't imagine a KAT trade would happen, nor would it be a good idea at that point even if it takes the Wolves into the luxury tax in 2024-25.
Q: Not a question per se but noting that you've referenced the "Wolves would've lost this game last year" theme and it does suggest we should be tracking 2022-23 win % vs. bottom one-third or one-fourth of league vs. this year. Not as big of a sample obviously but has to be huge leap. — Mark.
A: Indeed, it is so far. The Wolves were 6-10 against the worst teams in the league last season. After beating San Antonio on Wednesday they are 6-0 against the seven worst teams in the league so far this year. They'll get another chance to maintain that focus on Friday against suddenly lowly Memphis. While they won't play any of those teams in the postseason, taking care of business against the bottom of the league is a good sign of maturity and essential for attaining a high playoff seed.
Q: With Eric Musselman's Arkansas buyout (down to) $2 million, could the Gophers afford him and would Musselman take the job? I'll hang up and listen. — Luke.
A: While Musselman has Minnesota ties — his father is Bill Musselman, former Gophers and Wolves coach, while Eric was a Wolves assistant early in his career with Bill — this seems far-fetched. Musselman has taken Arkansas to two Elite Eights and a Sweet 16 in the last three seasons. He's also paid twice as much as current Gophers coach Ben Johnson. If he ever leaves Arkansas, one would have to imagine it would involve a pay raise and a move to a better and more established program, not one that is rebuilding. Also, let's give Johnson a chance to show tangible improvement in his third season before we create a vacancy.
Q: I have not heard of anyone talking about Athan Kaliakmanis's form in throwing. Watch him! He throws side-armed! That makes the football arrive at the receiver with the point down. No wonder the receivers have dropped balls, especially when he throws it hard! — John.
A: Without breaking down hours of film, there might be something to this. There has at least been some inconsistency with his release point in games I've watched, which surely accounts for some of his accuracy problems. Transfer Max Brosmer, the front-runner to be the starter in 2024 after transferring from New Hampshire, seems to throw a better and more catchable ball.