Brutal injury suffered by superstar player on Nuggets' Western Conference rival

Nov 1, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts to a call
Nov 1, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts to a call / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets have been cruising through the NBA regular season, as they aim to defend their title and repeat as champions. Assuming health, the Nuggets will likely be favored against any and every potential Western Conference opponent.

But one team that has fared amicably against the defending champs and seems to match up fairly well has been the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves are 44-20, half a game ahead of Denver in the standings.

They’ve been one of the most improved teams in the league this season, climbing from an eight seed last year to a team that is competing for the one seed. With 18 games remaining on their schedule, they’ve already surpassed last year’s win total when the team finished 42-40.

As the eighth seed last year, the Wolves faced the top-seeded Nuggets in the first round. Despite losing the series, they garnered praise for their play and were able to steal a game. A big part of their success was their defense and size. 

The frontcourt combination of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert is one of the few in the league that can impose size and physicality against the Nuggets and their combo of Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon.

Karl-Anthony Towns injury

But the T-Wolves were dealt a significant blow on Thursday, as all-star forward Karl-Anthony Towns was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee. The injury is obviously a brutal one for one of the best shooting big men of all time. He’ll be out indefinitely as he recovers.

There has been some early optimism that Towns may be able to return at some point during the playoffs, but that seems like wishful thinking and it’s unlikely he’d be 100% and able to get into game shape on the fly for a playoff run.

In the meantime, the Wolves will rely largely on Naz Reid, one of the best 6th men in the league. Reid has been excellent off the bench this season and scored a career-high 34 points on Friday night in an overtime loss at Cleveland.

The Wolves and Nuggets have only played once so far this season, a 21-point victory for the Wolves in Minnesota. They face off three more times this regular season, and those games could go a long way in deciding seeding at the top of the West. Now the Wolves will have to win those games without their All-Star big man.