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The Minnesota Timberwolves are in a state of despair right now. They have not reached the playoffs since 2004, when they topped the charts in the Western Conference. Flip Saunders, a legendary figure in the Timberwolves organization, passed away in October at the age of sixty years old.
Not only was he a great coach in Minnesota, but he was also President of Basketball Operations and a partial team owner. Now the Minnesota Timberwolves are being led by interim coach Sam Mitchell and general manager Milt Newton. They are coming off a dead-last finish in the entire NBA. How will they ever get back on track? Here's how.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been a laughing stock for nearly a decade now, and they know it. They have had numerous last place finishes in the Western Conference, as well as the departure of former MVP forward Kevin Garnett, who won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
But last year, the Timberwolves traded Thaddeus Young to the Brooklyn Nets to bring the 38-year-old back to where it all started. Now, at the ripe age of 39, Kevin Garnett has agreed to a two-year contract extension, and expects to start at power forward at the start of the year. Also, the Timberwolves have the last two 1st overall draft picks on their roster in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Now let's break the Minnesota Timberwolves down by position.
Point Guard1. Ricky Rubio2. Andre Miller3. Tyus Jones Having Tyus Jones be a third-stringer shows that the Timberwolves are confident about their depth at the point. They are also showing a lot of trust in Ricky Rubio, who has shown to be a great passer but a mediocre scorer. Rubio is the only returning point guard to the team.
The Timberwolves drafted Jones in the first round this summer, and Miller, a member of the 2002 US national team, was signed over the offseason. I expect to see all three get some decent playing time this season.Shooting Guard1. Andrew Wiggins2. Zach LaVine3.
Kevin Martin This is another position with great depth for the Timberwolves. Back in 2014, the Timberwolves traded Kevin Love and a future draft pick for the first overall pick, a.k.a Andrew Wiggins. They were also able to pick up Zach LaVine in the 2014 draft. Back then, LaVine was a point guard out of UCLA.
Now he has been converted to shooting guard and looks like a solid sixth or seventh man. Another good third-stringer for this team, Martin is a veteran shooting guard who can shoot from the perimeter actually started a year ago. As with the point guards, we will probably see all three get some good playing time this season.Small Forward1.
Tayshaun Prince2. Shabazz Muhammad3. Damjan Rudez Even though the small forwards on this roster are not as glamorous as the guards, they can definitely get the job done. The only returning small forward on this roster is Muhammad, who was sent down to the Iowa Energy for a while last year.
Tayshaun Prince was signed over the offseason after playing with the Pistons last year. Damjan Rudez rounds out the SFs. A member of the Croatian national team, Rudez shows raw potential as well as a decent reserve in the event that Prince or Muhammad goes down during the season.
Kevin Garnett2. Nemanja Bjelica3. Adreian Payne Power forward is definitely the most unstable position on this team. Kevin Garnett, a hometown hero from his days as the Timberwolves superstar who led them to 8 straight playoff appearances, is now 39 and losing his abilities slowly.
Both of his backups are relatively unknown. Nemanja Bjelica is best known for being on the Serbian national team, and Adreian Payne is best known for being part of the dynamic Michigan State basketball team.
If Garnett goes down or is unable to perform at long periods of time, either Bjelica and Payne have to step up or we may see Gogui Dieng or Nikola Pekovic get minutes at power forward.Center1. Karl-Anthony Towns2. Gorgui Dieng3. Nikola Pekovic Some more depth at center shows just how much this team has changed in a year.
Pekovic, the starter from last year, is fading and is now the third-stringer. He is still capable of being good, but is not as dynamic as in years past. We also see young Karl-Anthony Towns take the starting job, a tall order for a rookie.
At least he doesn't have to carry the full workload. Both Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng are good players to have on the bench. I expect all 3 centers to perform well this season.
I expect the Timberwolves to get out of last place this season, but fall short of the playoffs. However, I do expect good things to come in 2-3 years given the inexperience of this young team.