Minnesota Timberwolves offseason

Jarrett Culver

The Minnesota Timberwolves rolled into the off-season with a spring in their step. After Gersson Rosas was hired as the new President of basketball operations in May, fans had reason to be optimistic about a long term vision for the franchise. Rosas activity in the draft and free agency have meant the Timberwolves are no longer watching from the sidelines.

Coaching Structure

Not only has Rosas made moves as far as the team goes, he has improved the coaching staff by bringing in specialists from other franchises. Pablo Prigioni was brought in from the Brooklyn Nets after a year where he was instrumental in the development of Caris LeVert and D’Angelo Russell. David Vanterpool was also brought in from the Trailblazers where he was a popular and highly regarded member of their coaching staff.

Vanterpool was a favourite of Damian Lillard’s and is due much credit for Lillard and CJ McCollum’s development. Gianluca Pascucci was also poached from the Nets where he was the Director of global scouting. Pascucci will join the Timberwolves as Assistant General Manager.

Making Moves

Not only should we praise the caliber of these hires, but the age and diversity should also be noted. They are young coaches and front office staff with varied backgrounds from proven organisations. Rosas has shown his hand early on,saying in his introductory press conference he would be aggressive in improving the roster. Prior to draft night it seemed like a defensive minded power forward would be taken with the 11th pick. Rosas surprised everyone at the time by not making a conservative pick of a second or third year PF with limited upside. He swung for the fences and traded Dario Saric to the Phoenix Suns to trade up to #6 and take Jarrett Culver. Though Saric is a nice piece and potentially a starter on a good team, Rosas knew he would command too much on the open market when he hit restricted free agency.

Wing player Culver showed a lot of promise at Texas Tech, running the offense while playing excellent defense on the other end. As detailed below, he has legitimate two way potential in the league.

In the second round, Jaylen Nowell was selected out of Washington with the 43rd pick. Nowell was the Pac-12 player of the year and shot an impressive 44% from three point range last season. Like Culver he has great size and can score.

Free Agency

When free agency rolled around, Rosas and co were aggressive in trying to land D’Angelo Russell. If not for the Golden State Warriors swooping in, Russell may have come across in a sign and trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Though this move didn’t come off, fans shouldn’t be disappointed. Rosas stayed true to his word to be proactive in the market.

With no cap space to speak of, he proceeded to trawl the open market for value players with upside. Jordan Bell was the first cab off the rank. Though Bell had a disappointing year for the Warriors he is worth a punt on a 1.6 million minimum contract. Not only is he a good passer at his position, he is a great offensive re-bounder. When engaged, he can play strong defense on the perimeter and at the rim. Noah Vonleh was also an excellent acquisition at the minimum. The 9th pick in the draft in 2014, Vonleh has reinvented himself in the last year. Showcasing an improved shooting stroke and defense, Vonleh was one of only two Knick players with a positive on / off rating.

Bargain Deals

Jake Layman was another strong pickup for the Wolves. Layman is a 6’9 wing who spent three years with the Trailblazers. Like Vonleh, Layman broke out this year. While casual NBA fans may not have taken notice of his excellent year, Layman played the most minutes of his career and was one of the best finishers at the rim at his position. If he continues to improve his jump-shot, he could be a starter in this league. The last move made in the off-season was acquiring Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham from the Warriors. While the details of this trade haven’t been confirmed, its looking like the Warriors had to pay to get off these two contracts. Napier is a good backup point guard on a cheap contract. While Graham is a cheap wing who can play bench minutes.

Rosas also had to make a tough decision when choosing not to match the Memphis Grizzlies offer for Tyus Jones. Unfortunately for fan favorite Tyus, the 27 million offer made by Memphis was an overpay for his services. Tyus was great in his role and stepped up in the last year with an injury plagued roster. Not paying Tyus means they are only a Gorgui Dieng expiring deal away from having max cap space next year.

Though the Timberwolves aren’t in championship contention or signing max free agents, its great to see they have a clear direction in the front office. Rosas and co are working towards strengthening the team long term, while trying to make the roster younger. They will be strong defensively this coming season, while Karl-Anthony Towns may well take another step forward. If Rosas moves so far are an indication of whats to come, this team may look significantly stronger within 12 months.


NBA Draft – Minnesota Timberwolves

Yesterdays NBA Draft wound up one of the wildest weeks in recent NBA memory. The Toronto Raptors were crowned NBA champions, Klay Thompson blew his ACL and then Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers. After this wild six days, the Draft didn’t disappoint yesterday.

NBA Draft

With a tonne of moves being made prior to and on Draft day, the Timberwolves decided to get in on the action and make their own big trade. Trading Dario Saric with number 11 they moved up to number 6 and selected Jarrett Culver out of Texas Tech. This came as a shock to many, as Saric’s fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns seemed to be a strong one. This is all in the past now though. Jarrett Culver and Jaylen Nowell who was selected with the 43rd pick are now part of the Wolves young core.

Though this leave Keita Bates-Diop as the only true power forward on the roster, this shouldn’t be a concern for Wolves fans. Gorgui Dieng played some of the best basketball of his career next to Karl-Anthony Towns in the front court. While Robert Covington has played almost a third of his career minutes at the four.

Jarrett Culver

Culver is an intriguing prospect for the Wolves. A second year player out of Texas Tech, he was recently named the big twelve player of the year. Culver stands almost 6’6 and has a 6’10 wing span. Though he doesnt have a massive frame, he has an athletic body that will benefit from NBA conditioning.

From his first year to his second year at Texas Tech, Culver improved across the board statistically.

Though his three point shot regressed from 38% to 30%, his improvement across the board in all other categories bodes well for the Timberwolves. Culver’s potential as a two way player and secondary playmaker should have Timberwolves fans excited. A strong passer at his position, Culver can shoot and finish strongly at the rim. He is a great rebounder and a multi positional defender. Though his shot still needs some work, he projects as an excellent three and D prospect if he can continue to improve.

Jarrett Culver

Jaylen Nowell

Combo guard Jaylen Nowell was selected with the 43rd pick as a second year player out of Washington. Nowell was the Pac-12 player of the year for the Huskies and stands 6’4 with a 6’5 wing span. He has a solid body for his age and weighs in at 202 pounds. Nowell is an explosive scoring point guard, who also has two way potential. An excellent defender in college, Nowell shot an impressive 44% from three this year also. Like his new teammate Culver, Nowell has improved his game from year one to year two. He increased his impact statistically across the board while improving his shooting percentages also.

Jaylen Nowell

In Nowell and Culver the Wolves have two strong pieces for the future. By adding scoring and defense, new POBO Gersson Rosas is shoring up a defense that has performed terribly for years. Wolves fan can be happy with the NBA Draft this year.

Where to for the Wolves – Part three

In the last two articles we focused on the free agents that the team could resign or let go, and then the current roster and how they performed over the last year. If you weren’t able to read the first two articles, here’s the link to them!

Part One

Part Two

In Part three we will look at the Draft and then any potential moves the Wolves could make on Draft night or around July 1st. After last nights Lottery, the Timberwolves know where they are picking in the upcoming NBA Draft. Never having a great record when it comes to moving up in the Draft, they settled into the 11th pick and can now focus on workouts with potential draftees.

Trade Jeff Teague

As far as their wing positions go, the Wolves are locked in for the immediate future with the current players on the roster. Even if Andrew Wiggins was to be traded, that would still leave Robert Covington and Josh Okogie as the incumbent starting wings. As Andrew Wiggins probably wont be traded this season at least, their is a logjam on the wings. This may mean that the Wolves look at drafting a scoring guard that can create off the dribble. By trading Jeff Teague and resigning Tyus Jones they can open up guard minutes, they can start Tyus and then take the pressure off the young guard they bring in.

As Jeff Teague’s 19 million salary is expiring this year, they could get off this money by attaching two secound round picks. At worst they could give up next years first rounder. Bar a disastrous season, next years first rounder would be around the late teens in a relatively weak draft. If they need to give this up then it wouldn’t be the worst thing to do as they have no need for Teague anymore.

Draft Needs

Looking ahead to the Draft, the Wolves are in desperate need of three point shooting. Though a full season of Dario Saric and Robert Covington will help with this, they need a prospect who can hit threes at above league average. If they could get to the rim easily as well, this would be an added bonus. Last year the Wolves ranked 26th in three pointers attempted and 15th in shots attempted within three feet of the rim. If new POBO Gersson Rosas decides a guard isn’t the right way to go, then they should look at a defensive minded big to play next to Karl Anthony-Towns. This could mean not bringing back Taj Gibson, and would also give Dario Saric a hurry up in his development. Though Saric is a good fit next to KAT offensively, he has no rim protecting abilities.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

If its a guard they want, Nickeil Alexander-Walker could fit the bill at number 11 in the Draft. A combo guard out of Virginia Tech, Alexander-Walker stands 6’6 and weighs 205 pounds. He isn’t an amazing athlete but can play on and off ball, while he also has an excellent basketball IQ. While he is quite skinny, he has wide shoulders so will fill out nicely with NBA training and conditioning.

Though he is more comfortable as a team rather than man defender, at 6’6 with a reputed 6’9 wingspan he has all the tools to succeed at the next level. He can use his body to cut off passing lanes, so if he can add some bulk he will be able to defend bigger players due to his length. He took a step as a secondary play maker and showed high IQ to find cutters and shooters.

Though NAW’s shooting mechanics have been questioned in some places, he has a quick release which allows him to shoot threes off the dribble. He is more adept at hitting them off the catch though. In his two years at Virginia Tech, NAW improved inside the arc while also getting to the line more often. He can operate in the pick and roll and he uses crafty finishes at the rim off both hands. Though not that explosive at the rim, he uses his length and smarts to get around shot blockers. His excellent decision making separates him from other prospects. Whether it be making the right read in transition or handling out of the pick and roll. He seems mature off the court and has shown tremendous improvement from one year to the next at Virginia.

Brandon Clarke

If Rosas decides to go for a defensive big man, then Brandon Clarke from Gonzaga may be the ideal fit. A 6’8 big who projects to be an elite defender at the next level, he averaged a mind boggling 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes this season. His defensive instincts are excellent, he has excellent timing on his blocks and tends to make the right decisions.

Though not an excellent defensive rebounder, he grabs his fair share of offensive boards. As a junior in college, his ball handling is advanced for his height and he has above average passing ability. Though his shot is limited he has shown some touch around the rim which may translate to range further out . At only 6’8 his best role may be a small ball center, but this could present match-up issues on defense. Though he is 6’8 he doesn’t have the biggest wingspan, and relies on athleticism for a lot of his blocks. The Timberwolves would still do well to draft Clarke, he would be an instant upgrade for them defensively next to Karl Anthony-Towns.

Where to for the Timberwolves – Part Two

In Part two of the three part series we look at the key players still on the Timberwolves roster, how they went in the 2019 season and what to expect from them next year. If you didn’t read part one you can catch it here.

New President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas had his first press conference at Target Center today. Though not a lot can be taken from an introductory press conference, Rosas is a massive addition for the Wolves. He was a key part of a Franchise that made two Conference Finals. While also acquiring superstars like James Harden, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. He also played a massive part in drafting Diamonds in the rough like Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell. Rosas may not bring over all of the analytics heavy style that the Houston Rockets play. But the heat will be on coach and players alike to play a style that suits today’s NBA.

Current Roster

Karl Anthony-Towns

Season Stats

24 points 12 rebounds 3 assists.


Field 51.8% Three Point 40% Free Throw 83.6%

Karl Anthony-Towns is the centerpiece for the Wolves future. Not only does he carry the weight of being the leader of the team and their best player, he carries the hopes of fans who are expecting a return to the Playoffs and maybe even a championship. KAT recently inked a 190 million maximum deal that kicks off next season. Bar something disastrous happening, this means he is in Minnesota for the next five years.

This was KATs fourth season in the league and arguably his best. The raw numbers showed he truly belongs in the ALL-NBA conversation, 24 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists. What stood out the most was his efficiency. He was the only center to shoot 40% from three point land, while also taking the second most threes of any center, behind only Brook Lopez. KAT also attempted the second most field goals this past season for a center, while maintaining the fourth best True Shooting percentage. Efficiency coupled with volume represents greatness for shooters, KAT will look to continue this efficiency while potentially taking more threes.

Defensively KAT took a step forward this year, in both effort and execution. Though he led the NBA in personal fouls, he showed enough improvement on this end to think he can be a legitimate defensive center in this league. If he is able to make another leap on the defensive end, this would go a long way towards the Wolves being a perennial Playoff team.

Andrew Wiggins

Season Stats

18.1 points 4.8 rebounds 2.5 assists


Field Goal 41.2% Three Point 33.9% Free Throw 69.9%

Andrew Wiggins is the name on a lot of peoples lips this off season. Asked about Wiggins, Rosas said he wants to develop and work with him to try and get some improvement. Even if Wiggins was traded in the off-season, their cap situation would mean they would end up with an inferior player. Rosas was also quoted as saying if they were to trade him they probably wouldn’t get someone with the upside of Wiggins. Also if they did get off future salary by trading him, that wouldn’t improve their situation this year.

Everyone knows how bad Wiggins was last year, a few great games were surrounded by a lot of bad games. His counting stats were very average, but it was his efficiency which really killed the Timberwolves. He had one of the worst shooting season in NBA history for someone of his usage. This type of efficiency means he will make the team a lot worse when he is on court.

Their are two key stats which show lack of effort and confidence. Wiggins first three years in the league he rated in the 90th percentile for his position in drawing shooting fouls. The last two years this has dropped significantly where he is now only in the 70th percentile. The second key stat is his finishing at the rim. Last year he was in the 82nd percentile at the rim, this year he is down to the 41st percentile. Considering his physical tools, finishing at the rim should be the least of his problems. If Rosas and co can fix this issue that will go a long way towards making him more efficient.

They also need to eradicate the long two pointer from his offensive repertoire. He takes 18% of his shots from this distance and only hits on 32% of them. There’s no point focusing on Wiggins deficiencies any longer, but Rosas and co will try and fix these by pushing him to shoot threes and layups only. Attitude and effort will be the other two key work-ons. Only time will tell if they can make any of these changes.

Robert Covington

Season Stats

14.5 points 5.7 rebounds 1.5 assists


Field 43.3% Three Point 37.2% Free Throw 77.3%

Robert Covington is the next key piece on the Wolves roster. A premium role player in both contract value and his on court play, ” ROCO ” is the best three and D role player in the league. His steal % this year would have been good enough for third in the league had he not been injured for the second half of the season. He also ranked in the 98th percentile for blocks at his position. Returning from injury this year, he is the perfect piece to push a pace and space style of play that complements the Wolves roster. Covington’s fit on the roster is ideal, his defensive strengths are the perfect example for perimeter buddies Wiggins and Josh Okogie. Here’s hoping they can take his lead to better the team’s defense.

Josh Okogie

Season Stats

7.7 points 2.9 rebounds 1.2 assists


Field 38.6% Three Point 27.9% Free Throw 72.8%

Josh Okogie is the next cab off the rank as a cornerstone piece for the Wolves. Drafted 20th last year, he was one of the steals of the first round. At only 20 years old he showed defensive ability that belied his age. He also flashed athleticism around the basket that will encourage fans to look past his shooting struggles. A high point of this season was watching Okogie block James Harden’s patented step back three. Highlight plays like this don’t make a career but he has all the tools to be a great NBA wing. He aggressively looked to finished at the rim rather than settling for contested jumpers, drawing fouls at an excellent rate also. If Okogie can develop a passable shot he can potentially have a reputation and career like his buddy Covington.

Dario Saric

Season Stats

10.5 points 5.5 rebounds 1.5 assists


Field 45.4% Three Point 38.3% Free Throw 87.5%

Dario Saric was the other main piece that came over when Jimmy Butler was traded to the 76ers. A versatile player who is an excellent all round shooter, Saric had a tough first year with the Wolves. He struggled coming off the bench, but once he was inserted into the starting lineup he finished the last three months of the season averaging 47% from the field and 41% from three. Dario’s style of play fits well with KAT, he is a good passer and cutter while having good ball handling skills at 6″10.

He can shoot the three from the corner or above the break. He also finishes well around the rim, hitting a career high 68% this season. Not a great rim protector, Saric will need to work on his defense around the rim to increase his playability at the end of games. He will benefit from a full off-season with the team, and potentially a rookie extension.

Keita Bates-Diop

Season Stats

Points 5.0 Rebounds 2.8 Assists 0.6


Field 42.3% Three Point 25.0% Free Throw 64.3%

Keita Bates-Diop was drafted 48th in last years Draft. A four year player out of Ohio State, Keita was on the back end of the bench under Thibs. It wasn’t until February that he started playing meaningful minutes. Under the watchful eye of Luol Deng, Keita showed some nice touches on both ends of the floor. When he played between 10 and 19 minutes this season he had a +1.6 net rating. Though his jump shot didnt fall at a consistent rate he finished strongly at the rim when given the opportunity. He didnt embarrass himself on defense, and has the physical tools to improve on this end. On a cheap three year deal, if Keita can be a 10 – 15 minute night consistent player this will provide good value for a team that is likely to be over the cap for the forseeable future.

Jeff Teague

Season Stats

Points 12.1 Rebounds 2.5 Assists 8.2


Field 42.3% Three Point 33.3% Free Throw 80.4%

Jeff Teague had a forgettable season for the Timberwolves. In an injury plagued year he played a career low 42 games. His shooting was a struggle for a lot of these games. His three pointer regressed heavily, while he finished poorly at the rim. Interestingly though, Teague fed Towns heavily in those games, and ended up with a career high 8.2 assists per game. Teague may still be a starting point guard in this league, but he looks to have lost a little of the quick first step that got him to the rim so well in his younger years.

After opting in to the last year of his deal, he will be paid 19 million this year. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him traded as his expiring salary could be attractive to a team with cap space. If Teague is healthy he can help this team, but the Wolves are better to give playing time to one of the young guys.

Gorgui Dieng

Season Stats

6.4 points 4.1 rebounds 0.9 assists


Field 50.1% Three Point 33.9% Free Throw 83.0%

Gorgui Dieng had an up and down year as the most experienced member of the Timberwolves. In his 6th year in Minnesota he played the least minutes since his rookie year and had a concerning stretch midseason when it looked like he may drop out of the rotation all together. There were reports that Gorgui was very unhappy under Coach Thibs, but he pulled out of his slump under Coach Saunders and had a strong last month of the season. He has been developing his jumper and is still a solid rebounder also.

His defense is the biggest worry for Wolves management. Fouling heavily and making bad reads may have been the reason he played sparingly in the middle of the season. When he started for the team in years gone by, he was always a net positive in the on / off data. The last two years he has been a net negative overall in both seasons, this may be because he never gets to play next to Karl-Anthony Towns. When Towns and Dieng played together in 2016/17 they had a net rating of +1.6 in the season. Rather than use assets to trade Gorgui, they should look utilize his strengths and play him in the right lineups.

Cameron Reynolds

Season Stats

5.0 points 1.6 rebounds 0.7 assists


Field 42.3% Three Point 41.2% Free Throw 88.9%

Cameron Reynolds was brought in on a ten day contract in February. After impressing with his shooting prowess he was then signed to a deal for the rest of the season with an guaranteed second season also. A five year player out of Tulane, Reynolds is a 6’8 wing signed purely to shoot the three ball. He flashes some defense in limited opportunities, and has the physical tools to guard opponent wing players. Shooting 41% on 2.7 three pointers was enough for the Wolves to sign him for a bit longer. As his deal isn’t guaranteed for next year they can have a full training camp to look at him and decide if he is worth keeping for the upcoming season.

Thanks for reading Part two. Part three will be out next week with team needs for the upcoming Draft.

Where to for the Timberwolves – Part one

The Minnesota Timberwolves had a wild 2019 NBA season. Coach Tom Thibodeau was fired. Jimmy Butler was traded, and the memory of the 2018 Playoff run quickly faded. As injuries ravaged the roster they nestled into a Lottery position in the upcoming Draft. Putting this year behind them, lets look at where the team can go in the next 12 months. Here is the first part of a three part series detailing where improvements can be made for next season.


The current roster has eight players under contract for next season with total salary sitting at 109 million. This years salary cap is also 109 million but this may drop depending on attendance numbers in the playoffs. Most importantly for the Wolves they have Karl Anthony-Towns locked in for the next five years. He does have a stipulation in his contract that if he makes All-NBA then he will be bumped up another five million for next season. In both situations they are at the cap, meaning they are unable to be a player in this years free agency, outside of using their mid-level exception.

The MLE is given to teams that are over the cap and is approx nine million this coming year. It can be used for one player or multiple players depending on the teams preference. Including their upcoming first round draft pick, the Wolves will have nine roster spots filled. They will need to sign free agents using the MLE or bring back players whose bird rights they have. If they have a player on the books for three years they own their bird rights and can then go over the cap to resign them. Early bird rights are similar where you can go over the cap to resign the player if you have had them on the team for two years. The only difference being that they can only give 130% of the previous seasons salary.

The first job of new President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas will be to establish some structure around the roster and who the Wolves want to bring back. Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones should be at the top of the priority list.

Tyus Jones had a strong year where he continued to showcase his strong passing ability and savvy court vision. Tyus decision making and passing game are both very sound, and he makes the right reads on defense. His shooting efficiency is a work on, he ranks in the bottom 20% in the league for effective field goal %. Considering all of the above and that he is only 22 years old, Tyus would be worth bringing back somewhere around the 6 – 7 million a year range. A four year deal in this range may suit both the franchise and Jones.

Derrick Rose is slightly more complicated. Rose was a steadying presence on and off the court in a year where the team struggled with injuries and in house issues. Headlined by a 50 point masterclass against the Jazz, Rose showed an improved three point shot and finished at the rim at a career high also. Bringing him back for the right dollar amount would be a smart move. They can offer him the MLE, but with a long injury history a four year deal may be risky. The injury that had Rose shutdown for the rest of the year was his elbow rather than his troublesome knees. If Wolves medical staff deem that there is no long-term damage to his elbow, then a potential three or four year deal worth approx 30 million may suit both parties.

Taj Gibson and to a lesser extent Luol Deng should the next priorities for the front office. Taj provided excellent leadership on and off the court in his two years with the team. An excellent defender, Taj provided strong offense in both his two years in the twin cities. While a slight decrease in efficiency at the rim this year may be a sign that he is slowing down, Gibson would still be worth bringing back around the four or five million a year range.

Luol Deng languished on the Lakers bench for 81 games in 2018, not playing one single minute after an appearance on opening night. After negotiating a buyout at the end of 2018 he joined the ” Timber-Bulls. ” Coach Thibs deemed him surplus to requirements in the rotation and only played him in garbage time. This changed when Ryan Saunders replaced Thibs, he started playing Deng regularly. In 22 games he was efficient on offense while the team was 14 points better when he was on the court. If Deng could be brought back on the minimum he could be a good end of bench rotation option.

If management decide to make the above moves, this would leave two empty roster spots still. Per Cleaning the Glass, none of the rotation players were in the top 20% finishing at the rim for their respective positions. A slasher who can finish at the rim and provide some impact off the bench would be a nice fit for this team.

Depending on how they choose to spend their MLE, Glenn Robinson could be an interesting prospect for them. Robinson is only 25 and has shown ability to finish at the rim and from three point land. After coming off some injuries he could be an option on a cheap deal. Another option could be Wizards wing Jeff Green. Gone are the days of Green demanding massive salaries, but he can be an efficient scorer and good defender. He was in the top 10% of players for at rim finishing, while shooting the three ball at a league average 35%.