With Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler recently tearing his meniscus, another NBA star has gone down to injury. How will Butler’s absence affect Minnesota and the rest of the West?
Wolves superstar shooting guard Jimmy Butler will be out for 4-6 weeks due to a meniscus tear. Minnesota is currently battling with every team in the Northwest for first and may have just forfeited the division with this injury. How does Butler going down affect the Timberwolves and the rest of the league?
Possible First Round Trouble for Golden State or Houston
With the Warriors and Rockets currently neck-and-neck for first in the West, the rest of the conference is double-digits back of the two juggernauts. Seeds 3-8 are up in the air with San Antonio currently leading the pack. Without Butler, Minnesota may find themselves fall a bit, and a bit is a lot with the current state of the Western Conference playoff picture. Avoiding a tear of the ACL, Butler has the potential to be ready for the beginning of the playoffs, and if the Wolves have dropped down to 7 or 8 and get back Butler for a series with Houston or Golden State, that’s a tough start to the postseason for either team.
Race to the Finish in the Northwest Division
The Northwest currently has 4 teams in the playoff picture and a fifth challenging for one in Utah. Any one of Portland, Denver, OKC, and Utah could surpass Minnesota if they go on a run. A playoff appearance still isn’t a lock for the Timberwolves especially in this division. KAT will have to have an MVP caliber end to the year if they expect to finally clinch a spot in the postseason. Getting all 5 teams in the playoffs is definitely possible here which puts pressure on Minnesota to stay competitive without Butler. Though it’s hard to believe, Minnesota could finish the year last in the Northwest Division.
J-Crossover gets his shot
It’s been no secret that Coach Thibodeau has overplayed his starters this season, opting to sit some talented bench players like Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones, and Jamal Crawford more than most expected after Minnesota spent so much on their bench in the offseason. With Butler out of the lineup for a month or two, Crawford should be called up to the starting lineup and may be able to find his Clipper self as the season comes to a close. The ageless scorer can put up 30 on any team on any night which gives Minnesota life if Towns or Wiggins can’t carry the load. We saw Crawford lead Los Angeles when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were down last year, so the 37-year old is completely accustomed to stepping up when injury occurs. Though he was underutilized during the season, Crawford will finally get a chance with Butler down for now.