Contenders and Pretenders: 3 NBA teams that are the real deal, 3 that aren't

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks
New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Contender: Minnesota Timberwolves

A year after being ridiculed for giving up a king’s ransom for Rudy Gobert and losing in five games to the Nuggets, the Timberwolves have been on a different level this season. It starts with the evolution of Anthony Edwards.

Edwards has taken his game to a new level this season. He is averaging 26 points per game, five rebounds, and five assists. He is shooting 46 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range. He has played at an MVP level.

Another reason for the success of Minnesota is their defense. They lead the league in defensive rating and a huge reason for that is Gobert. Gobert has bounced back after a miserable first season in Minnesota last year. He is in at or near the top five in the league in contested shots per game, and blocks per game. Opponents are shooting 44 percent from the field with him as the primary defender. He has been elite.

In addition to Edwards and Gobert, the Timberwolves have gotten a huge boost from Karl Anthony-Towns and Naz Reid. Before getting hurt, Towns was averaging 22 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.

Fortunately, Minnesota will have him for their playoff run. As for Reid, he has solidified himself as a sixth man of the year candidate, averaging 14 points per game and shooting 41 percent from three. The frontcourt is the engine for this Wolves squad.

Minnesota has flipped the switch from last year. Their defense, along with their star power bodes well for a deep postseason run, and their case will only get stronger if they clinch the number one seed, as they are 30-10 at home this season.