As the Golden State Warriors stumble to a 13-14 start to the season, fans and analysts speculate on whether the franchise's decade-long dynasty has finally met its end.
In the same line of thinking, have the Warriors passed on the baton to another young team in the Western Conference? At the top of the league right now is the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team Golden State have met and lost to twice already this season.
Legendary NBA coach Doc Rivers believes the conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves were anointed by the Golden State Warriors
The second of the Warriors-Timberwolves meeting saw a notable scuffle in the first 90 seconds, with Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels tugging at each other's jersey as they ran down the floor.
That led to a now infamous incident where Draymond Green caught Rudy Gobert in a chokehold, before dragging him part way down the floor. The Golden State forward was suspended for five games, while it also undoubtedly played a role in Green's indefinite suspension following his latest unsportsmanlike act last week.
But did the entire altercation mean more than just the event itself? 2008 championship-winning coach Doc Rivers thinks so, with the 62-year-old believing it was a notable reflection of Golden State's respect for Minnesota.
Speaking on a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast last week, Rivers said the Timberwolves were 'anointed' by the Warriors amid the franchises' respective fortunes this season.
""I think Golden State saw who Minnesota is...It's almost like Minnesota was anointed that night by Golden State and by the reaction of Draymond and their entire team," Rivers said."
While the Warriors appear in a battle for the Play-In Tournament at 11th in the West, the Timberwolves are flying high 2.5 games atop the conference with a remarkable 20-6 record.
After a disappointing season that resulted in a 42-40 record and a first-round playoff exit in 2023, Minnesota have surged up the standings thanks to their league-best defense that holds a 107.5 rating on that end of the floor.
Rudy Gobert has been reinvigorated as one of, if not the best defender in the league, though he and the Timberwolves were promptly humbled by 51 points from Joel Embiid on Wednesday night. Will the Timberwolves take the Western Conference crown held by the Nuggets, and so often held by the Warriors over the last decade? The 127-113 loss to the 76ers would suggest there's still work to be done.