“Tis hatched and shall be so”
It’s a very particular kind of anxiety. You stare at the swirling water (flavored with a dose of vinegar and a pinch of salt) and watch the whites coalesce around the egg. After that moment you wait. You wait and wait and wait. If you’re me, you think about lighting a cigarette but realize there won’t be enough time. You realize there’s nothing you can do in two minutes and fifty seconds, so you just stand near the pot and let the boiling water do its work.
If you’re not quite so neurotic as me, perhaps you start to imagine the end product. You start to think about lifting that perfect teardrop shape from the water. You imagine placing that beautiful baby on a bed of smoked salmon and English muffin. You start to salivate as the mental .gif of perfect, runny yolk spreading over the ingredients plays in your mind.
What if, unfortunately, you are like me? What then? You pace. You fiddle with spoons and forks. You check the timer every thirteen seconds without counting. It just happens. You stress. You fidget. You just can’t wait for that perfect poached egg, but underneath that impatience is something else: fear.
You worry that maybe some boiling water will penetrate the egg white and overcook the yolk. You fear that the eggs might collide and start leaking their contents all over the bowl. You’re not afraid because these are your last eggs. You’re smart. You’d never use your last eggs on such a high-risk maneuver. No, you’re scared because you know how good it could be, and you know how wrong it could go.
Let’s get past eggs for a moment and think about the Timberwolves. Just lay back and let the warm waters of the hot springs of possibility roll over you. Feels good, don’t it? It’s nice to imagine Andrew Wiggins taking an offensive jump and becoming a weapons grade slasher. Your muscles relax a little when you think of how Kris Dunn might be able to balance those second-unit lineups. A warm feeling runs from your scalp down to the tips of your toes imagining a Zach LaVine who can put all those tools together and earn his thirty minutes on the floor. Your cares wash away when you realize that Tom Thibodeau’s track record of extracting solid point guard play out of the likes of Nate Robinson and D.J. Augustin means that Rick Rubio might be able to be the player basketball aestheticists have been dreaming off. It’s hard to leave these waters once you imagine what the second year jump for Karl-Anthony Towns might look like.
But what if Towns gets hurt? Bam! You’re out of the water and into the frozen anxiety desert where I keep my elevated heart rate palace. Danger lurks around every corner for NBA players, injury, a lack of progress, difficulty learning or fitting in new schemes, chemistry issues. It’s all on the table. Look back at that last paragraph. All of that could be wrong. Wiggins’ development might stall. Kris Dunn might be assy. Zach LaVine might just be a dunk contest champ, and that’s all. Maybe Thibs can’t bath Rubio in the waters of the River Styx and create the immortal hero we need. Maybe Towns stays healthy but just doesn’t get better. Beyond injuries, there are less obvious concerns. How will Thibodeau manage this team? He’s a great coach, but one prone to alienating or even physically overtaxing players. Is there time for all of the players who need to grow to see the court? What about Shabazz?
It could all go wrong. All it takes is one malfunctioning android to ruin your astral archaeology expedition. Ridley Scott taught us that. As a fan of these Wolves, and many Wolves before them, this offseason has been a fast track to an ulcer. It’s so easy to see this team becoming excellent in the ways the early Thunder teams I fell in love with were. There are some pieces biding time in the shadows: your Bjelicas and Joneses. There’s an exciting coach. There’s young talent out the ass. It could all go so right, and that makes the possibility of it going wrong all the more devastating. Even once the season starts we won’t know what to think of this team for months. Like so many things, the T’Wolves will probably be worse than I hope but better than I fear. That outcome is almost inevitable, and in many ways totally fine, but until they become knowable they’ll just spin in the boiling waters of the NBA, and it won’t be until we cut them open that we find out if the yolk is golden and runny, or over cooked, crumbly garbage.