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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves

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The whole nation gets to watch as two rebuilding teams stocked with youth battle on NBA TV.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns
We’ll see plenty of young talent tonight, including Marquese Chriss and Andrew Wiggins.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (8-19) at Minnesota Timberwolves (7-19)

Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

When: 6PM AZ Time

Watch/Listen: NBATV, Fox Sports AZ, AZ Sports 98.7 FM

Rebuilding through the draft is a tricky endeavor in the NBA, fraught with peril and disappointment. For every Oklahoma City Thunder hitting on Durant, Westbrook and Harden, then riding them into contention, there are several Sacramento Kings, “rebuilding” seemingly forever.

It remains to be seen where the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves fall on that scale. Depending upon how you want to define it, the Suns have been rebuilding since they last made the playoffs in 2010, or since their last star player, Steve Nash, departed in 2012, or since Ryan McDonough was hired as GM in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves last made the playoffs in 2004 behind a prime Kevin Garnett (Garnett was a BEAST), Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. They lost the Western Conference Finals 4-2; since then, it’s been nothing but heartache for this franchise, which sports an overall 39% winning percentage through its history.

The Wolves look to be in better position for their rebuild than the Suns on paper, with Karl-Anthony Towns seen as a surefire future star, plus other heralded kids Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, and a proven winner at head coach in Tom Thibodeau. In real life, though, the lowly Suns are actually 12 game ahead of the Wolves in the cellar of the Western Conference.

Physical talent is clearly there for the Wolves with KAT, LaVine and Wiggins, but something’s missing. Dane Moore at our brother blog Canis Hoopus explained why the Wolves D is so poor despite Thibs’ reputation as a defensive genius. Spoiler alert: It’s because his players aren’t smart enough to execute his schemes.

For tonight, a win or loss isn’t so important for either team, each out of the playoff picture. It wouldn’t even require a winning record to pass the 13-16 Blazers for the 8 seed, but neither is close to .500.

No, the point here is whether the Suns young core of Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Alex Len, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender shows more future than KAT, Wiggins, LaVine and rookie Kris Dunn. That’s a strong reason to watch these two struggling teams.

Team Ratings

O-Rating: Suns 24th, Wolves 10th

D-Rating: Suns 25th, Wolves 27th

Pace: Suns 2nd, Wolves 21st

Projected starters

PG: Eric Bledsoe vs. Ricky Rubio

SG: Devin Booker vs. Zach LaVine

SF: PJ Tucker vs. Andrew Wiggins

PF: Marquese Chriss vs. Gorgui Dieng

C: Tyson Chandler vs. Karl-Anthony Towns