The theme of the NBA summer was clear, everyone is chasing the Warriors. For the last few years, the Timberwolves have been the young team with potential. This off-season, Minnesota went all in on their core group of players.
Here’s a look at the current Timberwolves roster and the projected starting lineup as the 2017-18 season starts. Two-way G League players are noted as such.
C- Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Cole Aldrich, Justin Patton
PF- Taj Gibson, Nemanja Bjelica
SF- Jimmy Butler, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Brown (two-way)
SG- Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Georges-Hunt
PG- Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, Tyus Jones, Aaron Brooks
The Timberwolves made a blockbuster draft night trade to acquire Jimmy Butler. Minnesota’s front office is hoping Butler combined with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins can form the newest NBA star trio. The Timberwolves also signed Taj Gibson in free agency.
Finally, the Timberwolves parted ways with Ricky Rubio to clear cap room to sign Jeff Teague. It is the one move this off-season with the biggest question marks as it is unclear if Teague is an upgrade from Rubio.
For all the acclaim the Timberwolves have received, they have yet to compete in the Western Conference. Minnesota won just 31 games last season not much higher than their 29 wins in the 2015-16 season. How much better Butler makes the Timberwolves remains to be seen. What is much clearer is Minnesota’s off-season shuffle has made them more intriguing.
Towns and Butler are known commodities, but the Timberwolves success could come down to Andrew Wiggins. We are still waiting for Wiggins to become a solid defender, and develop into a consistent all-around player. Wiggins enters his fourth NBA season, and, for all the talk of his potential, this needs to be the year Wiggins becomes more of a known commodity on the basketball floor.
If Wiggins takes the next step, the Timberwolves are a playoff-caliber team that can make noise once they get to the post-season.