The Minnesota Timberwolves have only made the NBA Playoffs once since 2005, back in 2018. Cleary, the franchise has not been in the winning ways. The 2018-19 season started off with Jimmy Butler wanting a trade and they ended up trading him the Philadelphia 76ers early in the year. The team also fired Tom Thibodeau midway through the season after clashing with management. The team ended up going 36-46, placing 11th in the Western Conference.

No huge changes were made this past offseason, only drafting Jarrett Culver 6th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. The team also named Ryan Saunders the full-time head coach, after being the interim coach for the latter part of last season.

Let’s take a look at the roster heading into the new season.

Point Guards

Credit: Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports
  • Barry Brown Jr.
  • Jordan McLaughlin *Two-Way
  • Shabazz Napier
  • Jeff Teague
  • Tyrone Wallace

Teague has been a stable solid starter since entering the league with the Atlanta Hawks back in 2009. A double-digit scorer, he’ll look to bounce back after an injury-riddled 2018-2019 campaign. Napier, a former two-time NCAA Champion back at UConn, has bounced around the league and will look to be one of the top backups to Teague. McLaughlin spent last season in the G League and after signing a two-way deal, he’ll get a chance to earn a full-time roster spot for the early part of the season.

Wallace and Brown Jr. are young guards that will have a hard time earning a roster spot. It would not shock me if they join the teams G League affiliate, Iowa Wolves, once they have to trim down the roster

Shooting Guards

Credit: Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports
  • Tyus Battle
  • Jarrett Culver
  • Treveon Graham
  • Jaylen Nowell
  • Josh Okogie

The shooting guards are headlined by the 2019 first-round pick in Culver. Drafted 6th overall, he is a great defender that can also score with ease (18.5 PPG in his final season at Texas Tech). If he develops quickly, he can be a huge contributor for the Wolves right away. Okogie was the team’s first-round pick in 2018 and had a solid rookie season with the team, averaging 7.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals in a bench role. He’ll be a key person the team needs off the bench.

Graham has bounced around the league in his early career while Nowell was drafted in the second round of this past draft. Both might not get huge minutes but could be factored down the line. Battle was recently signed so it’ll be tough to earn a spot in his short run. If anything, he can be moved down the Iowa Wolves if they are impressed with his play.

Small Forwards

Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
  • Keita Bates-Diop
  • Robert Covington
  • Jake Layman
  • Kelan Martin *Two-Way
  • Andrew Wiggins

Remember when Wiggins was poised to be the next great superstar in the NBA? While the former #1 overall pick and Rookie of the Year hasn’t really lived up the hype, he has been a solid scorer for the team in his five years in the NBA. At 24, he still has plenty of time and could earn an All-Star nod down the line. You also can factor in that Wiggins has been healthy for the majority of his career (only missed 12 games total in his five-year career).

Layman has acquired this past offseason and I believe this was a low key good pickup for the team. He’ll look to get extended minutes with his new squad. Covington was acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade last season and became a huge asset to the team, especially on the defensive end. Look for him to have another solid season on that side of the court. Bates-Diop and Martin will look to earn minutes this season, with the latter playing more in the G League with his two-way deal.

Power Forwards

Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
  • Jordan Bell
  • Naz Reid
  • Noah Vonleh

A lot of changes here in the power forward group. Bell was a former second-round pick and 2018 NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors that had a nice run with the team. Look for him to have a bigger role with the Wolves. Vonleh has signed from the New York Knicks this past offseason and personally, as a Knicks fan, I wish the team kept him. He was a solid role player for the team that can get his shots up in the paint as well as cleaning the glass. Reid, at one point, was considered a first-round talent in 2019 but ended up going undrafted. He signed with the team this offseason with a lot to prove and it’ll be interesting to see what he does this season.

Centers

Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Gorgui Dieng
  • Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT will be the focal point in the offense once again. A 20-10 type of player, he is one of the best players in the league. We know what he can do on the court, the question remains is that….can the franchise build around the superstar? Or will he be another high-end superstar that leaves for another city and bigger market? Dieng has been a solid payer for the Wolves since 2013 that took a backseat role once Towns came into the picture.

Coach

Credit: David Berding/Getty Images

Ryan Saunders now enters the fold as the full-time head coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The son of former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, he’ll look to bring this young team back into the playoff hunt.

Projected Lineup/Roster Cuts

  • PG: Jeff Teague
  • SG/SF: Andrew Wiggins
  • SF: Jake Layman
  • SF/PF: Robert Covington
  • C: Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Sixth Man: Jarrett Culver
  • Key Role Players: Gorgui Dieng, Josh Okogie, Jordan Bell, Shabazz Napier
  • Rest of the Bench: Noah Vonleh, Jaylen Nowell, Keita Bates-Diop, Treveon Graham, Naz Reid
  • Two-Way Players: Kelan Martin, Jordan McLaughlin 
  • Roster Cuts: Tyrone Wallace, Tyus Battle, Barry Brown Jr.

Obviously, KAT makes this team only better. The question is really who can contribute after Towns. Wiggins looks to be the second go-to guy here and the third option is wide open. Guys like Teague, Layman, Covington, and the rookie Culver can battle for that role.

Overall, I see the Minnesota Timberwolves fighting for a playoff spot until the last day of the regular season. It’ll be a tough one with how stacked the Western Conference. Let’s hope that the T-Wolves stay competitive throughout, or else we could see Towns wanting out in the near future.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s