While no Timberwolves were selected as starters for the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, which this season returns to the East-West format after previously experimenting with captains selecting teams, it’s a safe bet that one of the top teams in the NBA will not be entirely shut out of the game.
Reserves are selected by each conference’s head coaches. Seven spots are still up for grabs in the West — two guards, three forward and two wildcard spots.
The Timberwolves have a number of potential candidates listed below. On top of their individual resumes, winning teams are generally given more respect in these selection processes.
So while someone like Karl-Anthony Towns was sometimes left off the team in years when he posted gaudier numbers on losing teams, Minnesota is a good bet to receive multiple selections this season because of its strong record.
Here’s a look at the Timberwolves’ candidates, and their case for selection:
Starter voting ranks are listed by position
Starter voting: Fourth in player voting, fifth in fan voting, third in media voting
The rundown: Edwards is a human highlight reel who is a prominent piece of any Timberwolves highlight package. He’s mentioned as the potential future face of the NBA, with the charisma and showmanship required to fill such a role.
Sure, sometimes his decision-making can be a little iffy, but his ascension to stardom has helped lift the Wolves. He’s the leader of the pack, was established as an all-star last season and has the raw numbers to mandate another trip to the game.
The only potential thing working against Edwards is a crowded West backcourt. Just two “guard” spots are available for reserves, with De’Aaron Fox, Steph Curry and Devin Booker also still in need of selection. There’s a chance all four could make it with the utilization of the wildcard spots, but someone could get snubbed.
Still, an omission of Edwards would be stunning.
Likelihood of selection: 90 percent
Starter voting: Ninth in player voting, 13th in fan voting, seventh in media voting
The rundown: Perhaps no one has driven Minnesota’s winning more than Gobert, who is the frontrunner to receive his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year honor. He leads Minnesota in net rating, with the Timberwolves outscoring opponents by 9.6 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor.
Gobert is also second in the NBA in rebounding (12.5 per game) and top 10 in win shares and blocked shots.
Gobert may never win a popularity contest among fans and fellow players, but coaches around the NBA have a firm grasp of his value and could potentially recognize it with an all-star selection.
Chances of selection: 60 percent
Starter voting: Seventh in player voting, 11th in fan voting, ninth in media voting
The rundown: Towns is posting similar numbers to what he accrued in past all-star seasons. And now he’s on one of the top teams in the West, checking the “impact winning” box. He also just scored 62 points in a game this week (albeit in a loss). So why is an all-star appearance somehow unlikely?
It’s a numbers game. Towns is competing in the front court against the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lauri Markkanen and Gobert. The wildcard spots sure seem likely to go to guards. Towns is deserving of a spot, and could very well be selected. But the math is challenging.
Likelihood of selection: 25 percent
Starter voting: 13th in player voting, 19th in fan voting, sixth in media voting
The rundown: No, Mike Conley will not be selected for the all-star game. He simply doesn’t have the numbers. This is merely an ode to the player who has proven to be the lynch pin for a Timberwolves team that has gone from fringe playoff team to championship contender merely with his addition.
If the all-star rosters were composed of the 12 players in each conference who had the highest winning quotient — a term recently coined by Timberwolves coach Chris Finch — Conley would be a lock.
Unfortunately, it’s more about glitz, glamor and counting stats. Hence, why Conley is likely to finish his career with just one all-star selection, a crime for such an incredible player.
Likelihood of selection: 0 percent
The Timberwolves coach will be the all-star coach if Minnesota holds the best record in the West when coaches are determined. That usually takes place roughly two weeks before the game. So, with the game set for Feb. 18, the coaches for the respective sides will likely be selected by Feb. 4.
Because Denver coach Mike Malone coached in the all-star game last season, the honor in the West this year is likely down to Finch and Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault. The two teams are neck-and-neck in the standings, meaning Monday’s game between the two may very well determine who receives that honor.