I’m not surprised so many people don’t know what goes on in Minnesota, but I am surprised by how strongly people will state positions when they don’t.
No, MIN went through a very extensive, and very publicized, search for both Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders. MIN was praised because it hasn’t always worked like that - they have made “country club” hires in the past, of people they are familiar with.
No, MIN used a search firm to come up with Tom Thibodeau too. He had some connections here (as a mullet-wearing assistant coach back in the ‘90’s), but he was the top candidate that year, just ahead of Van Gundy. Taylor wanted to get him so much that he acquiesced to Thib’s demands to be GM as well, after Thibs (correctly) felt like Garpax didn’t have his back.
No, Jimmy Butler is not responsible for all the wins in MIN. Basketball is a team game, where the accumulation of production needs to surpass your opponent. Towns wouldn’t have won without Butler, and Butler wouldn’t have won without Towns. If you really believe you can parse it out, Jimmy Butler was #20 in the NBA that season in Win Shares (8.9), while Towns was #2 in the NBA with 14.0, behind only James Harden.
No, Thibs wasn’t fired despite his success. He was fired for the same reason almost every coach gets fired .. his expensive players had stopped listening to him. His drill sergeant approach worked for only a few guys, with players like Jamaal Crawford and Jeff Teague publicly saying how much happier they were to be out from under Thibs. Thibs deserves praise for the Jimmy Butler trade and playoff success, but he also refused to listen to Butler over the summer about wanting to be traded (actually, he wanted to be paid A year early, even if it meant the Wolves waiving two thirds of their team), so Thibs shares responsibility for causing the disastrous blow up. Jimmy loves Thibs, but by torching that locker room, he effectively got Thibs fired too.
No, Ryan Saunders wasn’t hired for nepotism. The head coach decision was entirely Rosas’, who required it if he was going to accept the GM job. He and Saunders were acquainted, but he had no particular loyalty to him for nepotism (as Glen Taylor might). This was very public too. Saunders was hired because he projects as a good coach, and he had good relationships with many of the young Wolves players, several of them even in his recent wedding.
Finally, any analysis of Saunders win-loss record should also consider that the goal of this season is not wins. Rosas and Saunders are using this season to “install an offensive and defensive identity, and create a mechanism to develop talent.” They are establishing a 5-out offense, because that’s what they will run from now on, but they didn’t inherit the personnel to run that system. MIN is third in 3PA, but last in 3P%, and the players are instructed to keep throwing them up. Defensively, they want to run one ball handler, three wings, one center, and they will stick with this even against the worst match ups. They want the players to learn the system, for Rosas to evaluate how they would do in the future in that system. You can see by the roster turnover at the deadline that they felt they needed three point shooting immediately.