Chances are after a run with Butler for a full season, he might have a better feel for that role. However, with the Northwest Division in high competition, Minnesota could find itself on the short end of the stick. It might be time to declare that we jumped the gun on the Timberwolves.
Once they added Jimmy Butler, it seemed like their potential would finally be tapped. They may have made the playoffs last season, but the red flags definitely manifested themselves. Nobody appears to be happy.
Butler appears ready to skip town. Thibs appears to not have learned his lesson from Chicago. The Timberwolves should be back in the hunt this year, but they are in a very competitive division within an even more competitive conference. On paper they should emerge as an elite team in the NBA.
Too much is being made of the TimberBulls thing because adding quality veterans that the coach knows and trusts is a common thing, regardless of where they played. The real question for the Wolves is can their Big Three play like a Big Three and not three high level guys trying to do their own thing? Especially when egos and contrasting needs and wants factor in. The Wolves have a number of strong offensive players, but none with as many gifts as Towns.
Towns fits the unicorn mold as a seven-footer who can shoot from deep, punish opponents in the post, pass the ball and run the court. Towns is a mismatch for opponents nearly every night. He posted a PER of While his scoring dipped four points per game last season, he saw increased efficiency in his already strong three-point and free throw shooting. Further, Towns decreased his turnovers per game from 2. The Timberwolves would love to lock Towns up long term, which they can do soon if they agree to a contract extension prior to October Will Towns sign the extension this late in the offseason?
Will he and the Wolves agree on a shorter contract, which puts pressure on the team to get creative? Or might he wait until next offseason to make a decision? Only time will tell. Fortunately for the Wolves, the All-NBA defender is a maniacal worker who is incredibly dedicated to his conditioning and his craft.
In fact, Butler led the Wolves in scoring last season with He also tallied a personal best in steals per game 2. But last season was the first since his rookie year that Butler failed to play in at least 65 games.
Butler proved that his knee was healthy following a February meniscus tear, but is the grind of carrying such a heavy workload on both sides of the court beginning to result in unsustainable fatigue? By default, a team with as much infighting as the Wolves must have an effective playmaker to spread the floor and distribute the ball.
Fortunately for the Wolves, Teague is a veteran who is used to sharing the ball with multiple starts. Remember, Teague was the starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks teams, which featured Al Horford, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson — all of whom were legitimate scoring threats in the early s. Teague might not be a vocal leader like Chris Paul, but he is capable facilitator. If Teague can continue to play as reliably as he did last season, the point guard position looks to be in good hands for now.
While this may seem slightly counterintuitive — after all, the word on Wiggins is that he has developed less through this point of his career than many had hoped — Wiggins actually has the stats to back it up.
Believe it or not, Wiggins is the only member of the Timberwolves to hit a buzzer beater last season. He hit two buzzer beaters in Does this mean he has Mamba blood coursing through his veins? But it does mean that when asked to come through in the clutch, he can do so with the game on the line. The majority of the Wolves roster is easily classifiable as a star, former star, role player or rookie.
And then there is Taj Gibson. Besides, he registered an above average PER of He put up And he even set a single-season team record, shooting percent from the field. Yes, he can score when needed. In fact, he scored 16 or more points in 23 games. But he was also the Wolves best post defender, and possibly their most versatile one, too. He covered an array of all-star-quality talent from James Harden to Nikola Jokic.
Gibson is a good shot-contester. He was actually the twenty-second bes shot contester in the league last season. He also works his tail off and is a good locker room presence for a team that needs a positive influence. Most importantly, he impacts the game without being featured in the offense. But can Gibson impact remain as strong as he enters his tenth season?
If he can, look for Gibson to log heavy minutes and make nightly contributions. Josh Okogie played two seasons at Georgia Tech, where he developed nicely. He is a leaper who can run the court effectively on both offense and defense. His energy and motor will be a valuable asset for a team that is lacking in both youth and depth. He was rated the second most athletic rookie by the rookie class in their recent survey with NBA.
Okogie would be wise to make nice with Jimmy Butler and study his off-the-court procedures given their similar skill sets. Nabbing an impact player in the second round of the draft is always a cause for celebration. While doubts exist around most second-rounders, most of them are centered on a stress fracture in his left leg.
Through the above-mentioned survey, they named Bates-Diop as the biggest steal of the draft after watching him average 8. Bates-Diop has a relatively polished two-way game. The Big Ten Player of the Year has a good touch. The Timberwolves are thin up front and can benefit greatly from Bates-Diop, especially if he can mature quickly and improve his willingness to engage defensively on the low block.
Through 82 games in , Jones averaged only 5. The team played better with Jones on the court in his With Jones, the Timberwolves were 5. Much of this success stems from the fact that Jones had a low usage rate, and Towns, Butler and Wiggins took more shot attempts with Jones stewarding the team instead of Teague. But those are difficult stats to ignore. Jones opportunities should grow dramatically in the near future, too. The Wolves unofficially parted ways with guard Jamal Crawford after his contract expired following this past season.
Crawford accounted for It is unlikely that all of those minutes go to Jones, but the NBA is a production-oriented league.
If Jones continues to produce, he will earn more playing time and, therefore, more opportunity to prove himself. Wiggins is an interesting case. But he did average Wiggins regressed last season, partially due to the presence of Jimmy Butler and the fact that they play similar roles on offense. Butler is the more efficient of the two, but Wiggins natural talent might be greater. If he can figure out how to remain engaged for longer periods of time, his efficiency should improve.
Further, if he embraces the challenge of becoming a lockdown defender — a challenge he is perfectly capable of succeeding at — he will receive additional accolades for being a true two-way player, much like Butler himself.
And the Wolves will certainly need that level of production from its only committed star this season and beyond. Despite the injuries and the dramatic fall from grace, Derrick Rose is still a big name in the basketball world.
He is incredibly polarizing: Regardless of what you think of him, Rose can still contribute, albeit in a lesser capacity than he once did. Rose should not be inserted into the starting lineup, nor should he be relied on to play too many minutes on a regular basis. But last we saw, he can still accelerate and finish around the rim better than most NBA players. He actually averaged He can enter the game and prop up an otherwise stagnant offense for a short period of time. Assuming realistic expectations are in place, Rose can be an effective piece of a competing team — so long as he remains healthy.
Superstars are traditionally viewed as foundational pieces for NBA teams. In the modern NBA, a team needs more than one superstar to be competitive. The way teams rank players is subjective, but its generally thought to be better to have more widely-considered great players than not.
They all complement each other nicely. They are all athletic and versatile. Sure, Butler and Wiggins are a bit redundant. But if they can get on the same page, they are the closest thing to a present-day Michael and Scottie.
On paper, the team should be competitive with most teams in the league. They kept most of their talented players and added in two serviceable rookies. The roster should have no problem propelling the Wolves back into the playoffs, but unfortunately the games are not decided on paper. The Minnesota Timberwolves are top heavy.
Towns and Wiggins are both young. Butler is 29, which means he is likely in the middle of his prime. Beyond those three there is very little youth on the roster, discounting the addition of the two rookies. And its only serviceable backup center is Gorgui Dieng 28 , an athletic, but limited, player.
The Wolves do not have a backup shooting guard other than rookie Josh Okogie. Hopefully it holds up for at least one more year. If not, the Wolves will need to rethink its philosophy on the fly. The Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves in a precarious situation. On the one hand, the Wolves just completed its first winning season since , ultimately posting its best season in years.
And two of its franchise players, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are only 22 and 23 years old, respectively. The Wolves should theoretically be in great shape to continue improving this season. On the other hand, the team enters the season with drama surrounding its core. Further, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported last season that Butler had problems with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor.
Further, Butler becomes a free agent following the season. Minnesota can go in one of two very different directions: This season and next offseason carry massive implications for the franchise.
The three stars do not have to become friends with one another, but they need to co-exist on the court for the Wolves to be successful. Can the Spurs re-make themselves into legit title contenders again? Legacy-wise, the Spurs lost so much this summer. Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard, all of whom were among the best Spurs of all time, are now off the team.
Ginobili and Parker were basically rotation players last season who, at their age, were impressive. As for how they resolved that bizarre Kawhi situation, the Spurs may have lost an elite player but at least they got a more than proven commodity back for him in DeMar DeRozan. No matter what his roster may look like, Coach Gregg Popovich should never be doubted. Anyone that tunes into the NBA knows that he can make a playoff team out of just about anything.
That is precisely why people should really keep their eye on San Antonio this season. I have predicted the regression of the San Antonio Spurs once or twice over the last couple of years and the team always makes me look foolish for it. However, this might be the year to again predict regression for this proud franchise.
I am a fan of DeRozan and am excited to see what he can do under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich. However, DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are going to be tasked with leading this team without the cornerstone players that Popovich has relied on for nearly two decades. If there was ever a year to finally bet on the Spurs underachieving after what seems like a decade straight of doing more with less, it might be this year.
No matter what they lose in the off-season, the Spurs should never be counted out. As long as they have Gregg Popovich calling the shots, the Spurs will always be in the conversation. This season, however, has a unique premise. With Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all off the team, the old days are officially gone and in comes a new era.
Still, there is plenty of reason to think this team will be fine. The Indiana Pacers went through a similar situation as San Antonio last year when they needed to trade their best player, and like the Pacers this time last year, the Spurs may come out of the situation with not only a star, but a star that might fit better in the big picture.
The big knock on Leonard was his reluctance to be a vocal leader, something DeRozan has proven to be more than capable of being and with Gregg Popovich in his ear can DeRozan become an MVP caliber future of the franchise guy? The smart money would be yes. DeRozan has a long way to go defensively, but it hard not to see him evolving in that area, mainly because of how good the Spurs staff and process has been with other sub-par defenders.
There is no question the Spurs are a different team, but as the league trends more to offense, the Spurs may be better equipped to compete in a loaded Western Conference.
Boy, that sounds weird to say remembering where the man was a year ago. After his numbers took a slight, albeit noticeable hit in his first two years with the Spurs, Aldridge appeared ready to move on from San Antonio. After meeting with Popovich to work out all the kinks, Aldridge changed his mind, got a nice extension and had himself quite the resurgence last season. At 33, there will be questions as to how much time LaMarcus has left as an elite offensive option.
His 6-foot-5 inch height combined with his absurd 6-foot wingspan made him an all-around menace on the defensive end last season. His efforts showed themselves through advanced metrics. Keep in mind that players who usually are at the top of Defensive Real Plus-Minus are mostly bigs and occasionally wings. Murray is the only point guard in the top ten, and the next point guard after him is Tyus Jones, who was No. His role is bound to expand even more for the Spurs this season.
Tony Parker led the Spurs in assists per game with 3. This is a good thing. Maybe somebody will eventually stand out, but for now, the team itself is the top playmaker. DeRozan has a track record for hitting clutch shots in the regular season.
Seriously, last season he won a game off a buzzer-beating dunk. In 41 games that featured clutch-time minutes, DeRozan averaged 4. The truth is, when teams are playing in crunchtime against DeRozan, they strategize to stop him primarily. Expectations for Gay were quite low, especially since he was coming off of a devastating Achilles injury. Gay was by no means spectacular. His averages of The man is only 32 years old! Also, when you take into account all that the Spurs lost, Gay should expect a more prominent role on the team.
Add in his year of experience playing under Pop, and this should be a good year for Rudy Gay. Their offensive rating of As evidenced by their diverse playmaking, the Spurs hope to implement DeMar in their pass-heavy offense. Luckily for them, DeRozan made great strides in his passing game last season.
Even without Kawhi, the Spurs managed to win 47 games and snag a playoff spot in a tough Western Conference. So over the course of the last 12 months, the team has traded 2 out of the 3 pieces that made Lob City so exciting over the past few years, and with a tough Western Conference to navigate, they will likely move the third in the upcoming offseason in favor of a huge package that can help them avoid a full rebuild.
Jackson has plenty of potential, but needs time to grow in the NBA, so being drafted by Memphis would give him plenty of time on the court to grow into the player he will one day become, and if they can continue developing a good core, they could again be back in the playoffs in just a few short years, but it has to begin this offseason. Ever since LeBron James left, the Miami Heat have been struggling to put a full, competitive team together, but with Hassan Whiteside guarding the paint, it looks like they were going to change that.
That hurts his value, but there are plenty of teams out there that need a rim protector, and Whiteside is a great option. Jordan is athletic and plays very hard on both ends of the floor, and pairing him with the Greek Freak would make them one of the longest and most athletic teams in the East, and if they can somehow manage to unload Eric Bledsoe in the trade seriously, we are still confused as to why the acquired him in the first place , it will be a huge win for the franchise.
This one may not happen, but these are meant to be bold predictions, and if they are wanting to take the next step to becoming serious threats in the East, they need to make a big splash, and this is one we can certainly foresee happening.
The Big 3 up in Minnesota led them to their first playoff berth since this past season. Sure, there will be temptations to take someone like Wendell Carter, but with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vujecic already there, they need a solid guard to facilitate to their talented big men, and it would finally mean a reason for the Orlando Magic fans to get excited about their team and their future.
Doncic may not have the explosiveness or the athleticism of someone like DeAndre Ayton, but their new Head Coach was also his coach in Europe, and with amazing ball skills, great measurables and a maturity beyond his years, Doncic could finally be the piece that Phoenix have been searching for.
The Philadelphia faithful have had a long road of patience to become the team they have today, but the Process has paid off handsomely, with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid looking like megastars in the NBA, and with the success they achieved alone, LeBron James has no doubt been paying attention, and when comparing their situation to everywhere else, Lebron to the 76ers just makes too much sense for The King.
Ben Simmons is too one-note at the moment, and Embiid is injured often, so bringing in a star like James would be the absolute perfect addition. The Portland Trail Blazers have been seen as a future force in the West for years now, but was the year they stepped up and finally made the playoffs on the back of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and despite all that young talent, they will unfortunately fail to lure a big name to the team to take the next step in The team will still no doubt make the playoffs in a very tough West, especially if the core group continue to grow together, but it will definitely be a disappointing off-season for the Trail Blazers, as they look to solidify their spot in the top 8 teams out West.
Adding Evans would be the ideal situation, as he could provide a similar style to Mitchell off the bench, and would give them the depth they need to challenge a team like Golden State or Houston, but either way, this team and their future are in very good hands with the rising star Donovan Mitchell.
A lot of Wizards fans in this situation would no doubt prefer to have Beal, but Wall is considered the bigger talent, and if they can get some shooters in return and add depth to the team, they could be a serious contender in the 5- 8 seed in the Eastern Conference next season.
They need to do something now before one, if not both men walk out in Free Agency. Give TheSportster a Thumbs up! Faces In New Places: Unique lists featuring pop culture, entertainment and crazy facts. Covering the hottest movie and TV topics that fans want.