Jonathan Isaac. That is the goal.
Coming into work today I listened to a podcast like I usually do. I typically will listen to someone like Zach Lowe or Wolves’ fans favorite Dougie Wolfson. I have a personal NBA favorite in Nate Duncan, who hosts the Dunc’d on podcast with Danny Leroux. They are ‘Cap Space’ experts but also do a wonderful job breaking down games. They go super in-depth and are super nerdy. I can relate.
They analyzed the Gorgui Dieng extension, which he signed with the Wolves for 4-years and $64M. Many Wolves fans rejoiced, as it was a steal compared to what we expected for him to be able to sign this summer. One thing that Wolves fans have noted, rightfully so, is that big men are still getting paid big bucks. We saw the deals that Timofey Mozgov, Ian Mahinmi and Bismack Biyombo signed this summer. With the cap increase playing a factor as well, Wolves fans valued Gorgui Dieng right around, if not higher, than those bigs that got paid.
I typically always respect and agree with Nate Duncan and Danny. I couldn’t agree on this one. I call them experts here even though they may not be the names you hear everyday if you’re an average basketball fan. But they definitely know their stuff. They felt that Dieng could’ve potentially got this deal in the summer when he hit restricted free agency. The reasons they call that out is because Dieng would have a cap hold of around 250%-300% his current salary, which is not too high. We could’ve also used it to sign two other starters or one starter and a bench guy with our $40M in cap space this summer.
They also didn’t like it due to Dieng’s age, who will be 27 by next season. The contracts that were given out to those on rookie-scale contracts were mainly to 23-year-old players who will play most of their extension into and in their primes. A lot of the money given to guys like Adams and Oladipo was based on potential. Dennis Schroeder got an extension for $70M and they felt if he developed into an average point guard, he was worth the money.
One of my concerns for extending Dieng was absolutely his age. I made it clear on Twitter. He isn’t worth going $90M if a guy like Adams is getting $100M because of age. But for $64M, you can lock up a fringe-starting center in the new NBA. Dieng has proven himself as someone who can start at Center but also be effective off the bench. Because the Wolves do not have a power forward, Dieng is the starter at Center for the foreseeable future, with Towns at the 4.
Although the Wolves did sign Dieng to a contract into his 30s, they have essentially locked him up through his prime. They will likely get his best production over the next three seasons. They are paying for what he is now and not what he can be in three years, this is a less-risky route. Gorgui has proven he can fit into many roles and still be effective. He is usually a net-positive player on the floor, so having him do this for another 3 years at least is worth the contract he signed.
The criticism around Dieng’s position, alongside Towns, was another criticism. Signing a player to a long-term contract that plays the same position essentially as your best player isn’t smart for how you use your cap space. This is absolutely true. Dieng was criticized that he can’t shoot by Duncan, which I don’t believe is true. Dieng has had a very solid midrange shot (shot 46% from 10-15ft last season). He isn’t a stretch-player necessarily, but he does spread the floor well, above average for a center. Dieng, is also a very good free throw shooter, which is very rare for a big man.
In the next four years, the Wolves will need to find a starting power forward who can stretch the floor and defend. In the meantime though, the Wolves have a solid security blanket in the frontcourt if they don’t find that player right away or if Towns ever gets hurt.
Dieng has also produced more on the court, in a lesser role, than Steven Adams thus far. Yes, Adams is younger and a better defender. But Dieng did just sign for nearly $40M less. Looking at their numbers, you can see that Dieng has averaged more points, rebounds, and blocks per game through his career.
Rk,Player,From,To,G,GS,MP,FG,FGA,FG%,3P,3PA,3P%,2P,2PA,2P%,eFG%,FT,FTA,FT%,ORB,DRB,TRB,AST,STL,BLK,TOV,PF,PTS 1,Steven Adams\adamsst01,2014,2017,234,170,21.7,2.5,4.5,.561,0.0,0.0,.000,2.5,4.5,.562,.561,1.3,2.3,.557,2.4,3.6,6.0,0.7,0.5,1.0,1.1,2.8,6.3 2,Gorgui Dieng\dienggo01,2014,2017,217,105,24.4,3.2,6.2,.516,0.0,0.1,.276,3.1,6.0,.521,.519,2.1,2.7,.780,2.3,4.7,7.0,1.5,0.9,1.3,1.5,2.4,8.5
There is some concern about cap flexibility in the future. That is fair. But at some point, the Wolves need solid role players surrounding Towns and Wiggins. This was the first step in that direction. I am certain that Dieng would’ve received a larger paycheck had he waited for the summer. Thibodeau has also loved Dieng since his days in Chicago. It is hard to come by a big man that has Dieng’s skill set and also his character. Dieng is a hard worker, willing to take any role the team gives him, and wants to win.
Dieng’s character is a big factor in why keeping Dieng around instead of looking to free agency made more sense. Dieng won a championship while at Louisville. Dieng has led the Senegal National Team each summer, in which he usually dominates in International competition. Dieng is also a guy who invests a ton in his home country of Senegal, which this contract will absolutely help those efforts. Dieng is the type of ‘character-guy’ you want on your team and you want your young players to be surrounded by. A lot of time those things are overlooked in analyzing these extensions. Dieng reminds me of Nick Collision with the Thunder. It would be great if Dieng spent the rest of his career here in Minnesota.
Karl-Anthony Towns is the boy that can do no wrong. He is atop General Managers’ list of players to start a franchise around and has absorbed the attention by taking snapchat selfies of him as a ‘GOAT’. Like Kevin Garnett, Towns is fueled by confidence. And at a young age, it could fluctuate a bit.
Towns has a ton of potential and should be great. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. The biggest point of criticism that has carried over from last season to the first game of this season is Towns’ inability to spread his production throughout the game. Towns plays in spurts. But because he plays in spurts, it leaves the Timberwolves vulnerable to blowing big leads or playing behind huge deficits.
In the first game of the season, KAT ended the game with a plus/minus of -14, the worst of any player on the court for the Wolves. He started the game +17. So there was a 31-point swing while KAT was on the floor from the 20-3 early lead to the end of the game. Bold this, highlight this, whatever. But your best player can’t afford to have a 31-point swing while they are on the floor.
Thank you @CTTimberwolves for this link as well. This is a closer look at Towns’ game flow against the Grizzlies.
Towns particularly plays well to start games. He gets a lot of his play early and then finds a way to hibernate for the middle of the game and come back alive in the 4th usually. In the first quarter last season with more than 6 minutes left in the quarter, Towns attempted 25 threes and 243 field goal attempts. In the other quarters with 6 or more minutes left he attempted a total of 20 threes on 365 field goal attempts. Most of those field goal attempts in the first 6 minutes of a quarter is in the third quarter. In the 2nd and 4th quarter, he attempted 68 and 78 field goals, respectively.
Even if you slice the number by the entire quarter, the differences are pretty staggering. Towns shot 22% from three in the fourth quarter of games last year vs 39% in all other quarters, on more attempts. Towns attempted 700 field goals last season in the first and third quarter vs 434 in the second and fourth.
Part of this is Towns takes a majority of his rest in the second and fourth quarters, but usually not to the nearly 2:1 ratio of attempts he is taking. The hump Towns will need to get over is being more consistent throughout the entire game.
The reason this is so important is because a consistent Karl-Anthony Towns insulates the young Wolves from their inexperience. The baby pups are not prepared to rally from behind on a nightly basis or defend early leads where they can’t mentally collapse for the rest of the game. A consistent dose of Karl-Anthony Towns means a consistent lead builder. It means opponents consistently need to worry about him. Instead, the Wolves become dependent upon other young players needing to contribute when Towns isn’t on. Currently
While watching the game last night, it was clear the Wolves were not prepared to hold a 17 point lead. The Grizzlies were too savvy of a team and had too many veterans that don’t lose hope. As Towns vanished in the game, the lead vanished. The Wolves could’ve also used Towns in the fourth, outside of the three he hit that he celebrated.
So how do we get Towns consistent? The early explosions of Towns are absolutely welcomed. That is not the problem. It is what proceeds. Towns seems to have a mentality that he is hot, not that he got on to a good start. So once he misses a couple, he reverts back to his teammates, especially in the 2nd and 4th quarters. This can’t happen. Towns needs to start getting ‘high percentage’ shots once he feels his hotness has faded. Get to the line. He doesn’t need to continue dominating, but he needs to prepare to slap his opponent in the face if the team’s lead is threatened.
Defense also seems to be a place where Towns can get discouraged. After Gasol hit a couple shots over him after Towns was helping on penetration, you could see Towns become deflated. Towns will learn in time, but sometimes you have to take the KG approach to a solution and go right back at your opponent on the other end. Towns will need to improve a bit guarding talented bigs like Gasol. But again, it will come in time.
This is not merely an overreaction to a loss. Its an observation from his rookie year that has carried over thus far. We all want to see Towns succeed. We all love him. I do however, thing his hype is becoming too much on a national level. Got to keep Towns hungry and improving.
The Timber Rebuilder
Consider this an open letter to Tom Thibodeau. Or consider this a post that may mean nothing in a day. Regardless how you take it, two quality, young guards are available for the league to grab and I believe Tom Thibodeau needs to sign one of them.
If you follow this blog on twitter (@timberrebuilder), you know that I am crazy about RJ Hunter. I wanted Flip Saunders (RIP) to draft Hunter over Tyus Jones in the draft. RJ Hunter has a great combination of playmaking, size, and shooting coming into the league. He carried a Georgia State team to the NCAA Tournament single-handedly. He has a body that almost looks like a light-skinned Corey brewer is running around, but he makes up for it with his length. He hasn’t been able to translate much to the NBA yet, but the tools are there.
Hunter was released by the Celtics because they had too many guaranteed contracts and had to cut ties with either Hunter or James Young. He wasn’t necessarily cut because he didn’t have the ability to make the team. He didn’t really get the opportunity to prove himself, but he was able to hit 36% of corner 3s, something he could immediately step in and do.
Archie Goodwin was also released by the Suns. Goodwin, a Kentucky kid, has been a guy who has been in the league based on his potential. He is an athletic freak and can score at will. He is a combo guard that is extremely athletic. He was behind a lot of guards in Pheonix, especially after Devin Booker developed himself into a starter on the team. He did have this amazing game winner this preseason, which is worth a watch.
Why go after one of these guys?
If either player is picked up, they will likely be the 14th or 15th man. They typically wouldn’t dress for games. While it may be best for this season to hold on to a veteran like John Lucas III, a flyer on a guy with as much potential as Hunter or Goodwin could pay off long-term. Both players could develop into solid rotation players and could even contribute this year.
The Timberwolves are also looking to deal Tyus Jones for a shooter. RJ Hunter could be that shooter! Goodwin isn’t really a shooter but could be a solid scorer off the bench.
The Wolves bench lacks depth at the shooting guard position. If you’ve read our season preview you know that there isn’t anyone really backing up LaVine on a consistent basis. Having a true shooting guard in Hunter or Goodwin could help in the event that LaVine gets hurt.
Short and timely post. We want Hunter or Goodwin. And we want to tell the world.
The Timber Rebuilder
The 2016-17 Season is right around the corner!! As the season progresses, it will be important for the Wolves to get an idea of how good they really are. One way to see how you are doing through the season outside of stats and standings is seeing how you perform against another team, typically around the same caliber as you. In the West, there are a handful of teams that are locks for the playoffs and there are about 8 teams competing for 3 spots in the West. There will be broken hearts. If the Wolves do make the playoffs, they have to serve the role of heart breaker.
But what teams can the Wolves use as measuring sticks this season? How can they tell if they are going to break hearts by the end of the year? First, lets define what a ‘measuring stick’ team is. A measuring stick team can come in many forms. First, they are likely a team that is on the bubble of the playoffs. They are a team that you probably performed poorly against the previous season. They are a team that you could potentially jump ahead of in the standings this season. They match up well against you and can be a test at things you think you improved on over the off-season.
New Orleans Pelicans
While the Pelicans won 30 games last season, they made the playoffs the season before with 45 wins. The ‘Brow hype has died down due to injuries, but I still believe Anthony Davis is one of the most talented players in the league. I also believe they added some solid pieces this offseason. I don’t know if the Pels make the playoffs, but they could serve as the ‘floor’ measuring stick this season. A team the Timberwolves have to outplay will be the Pelicans, and it may be harder than it sounds. Buddy Hield is probably one of the more NBA-ready rookies who can shoot the lights out. Solomon Hill signed with New Orleans this summer and I believe he could be a real difference maker. They also managed to steal away Langston Galloway and Terrance Jones. If health is on the Pelicans’ side, it may be hard for the Wolves to win 3 out of 4 meetings. They split the season series last year.
Regardless of team outcomes, this will also be a measuring stick for Karl-Anthony Towns. There is much debate around who is the best big man in the league. Davis and Towns are the future of that discussion. There is also the Kentucky rivalry to throw in there. It could turn into a Garnett/ Duncan-like rivalry in the future.
The Dallas Mavericks are looking to hold on to their playoff position with the acquisition of Harrison Barnes this offseason. The Mavericks finished 6th in the West with a 42-40 record. As Dirk is nearing the end of his career, it will be interesting to see how they hold on to playoff hopes. The reason they are a good measuring stick is because this is a team with experience and high-expectations. This is also a team that would likely need to fall out of the playoffs in order for the Wolves to make it in. The Wolves also lost all four matchups with the Mavs last season. In all the games, the Mavs wings found ways to torch the Wolves. Although Chandler Parsons is no longer with the Mavericks, it will be a good test to see if the Wolves perimeter defense improved against a team that has no shortage of scorers and shooters.
The Denver Nuggets are a team still looking for an identity. They relied on the incredibly inefficient rookie Emmanual Mudiay at point guard last season. After winning 33 games, the Nuggets will try to improve through the development of their international big men. Jusuf Nurkic made a late push for Rookie of the Year, so it will be interesting to see how he responds in year two. Some how though, the Nuggets managed to win 3 of 4 meetings with the Timberwolves last season. Not underestimating the Nuggets, but if the Wolves are planning on having a successful season, they will need to out-win the Nuggets. The Wolves should be aiming to win 2-3 meetings this year.
To do that, the Wolves will need to figure out how to guard Danilo Gallinari. The Wolves haven’t been successful guarding stretch-4s who can shoot and operate out of the triple-threat. While coaching should help this, Gallinari was guarded by someone who had no business guarding him in OT last year, which really pointed out the Wolves gaps on the perimeter defensively. Can Wiggins guard him this season? We shall see.
The Utah Jazz are the ultimate measuring stick team for the Timberwolves. Not only are they divisional rivals, but they have a good amount of hype and barely didn’t make the playoffs last season. The Jazz are about as hungry, if not hungrier, for a playoff spot this season. According to @PaulDeVos7, the Wolves were only 5 wins behind the Jazz in the final 40 games last year. The Jazz did take the season series 3-1 with all of the games happening after December 30th. But what makes the Jazz incredibly intriguing is that they have players at each position that will not only challenge the Wolves, but are almost a toss up when discussing who is better.
Ricky Rubio is better than George Hill and that might be the biggest advantage the Wolves have. Derrick Favors is not better than Towns, but I do think Favors is fairly underrated. On the perimeter, Hayward is better than Wiggins and Hood edges out LaVine simply because he is a great two-way player. If the Wolves want to outplay the Jazz this season, Wiggins will have to outperform Gordon Hayward. The Jazz also have added a significant amount of depth by signing Boris Diaw, Joe Johnson, and Daunte Exum returning from injury.
The Wolves will have an advantage early in the season against the Jazz with Hayward injured. The Jazz won 40 games last year and could get closer to 50 this year. If the Wolves jump into the 40-win range, it will be important to win two games against the Jazz. Regardless, this could be a good rivalry this season. Especially if we see Andrew Wiggins continue his efforts in posterizing Rudy Gobert.
While an argument could be made for all the ‘bubble’ teams, we felt like this was a diverse group and could test out different things against the Wolves. Agree? Disagree? Have other ‘measuring stick’ teams? Let us know!
The Timber Rebuilder.
July 1st marks the first day of free agency. Tom Thibodeau will continue to make his mark on the franchise by filling in needs that the current roster has. The Timberwolves have high hopes of making the playoffs next season and in order to do that, they need to add a couple pieces to the young roster.
The Wolves have to figure out a lot with their current roster still. The Ricky Rubio trade rumors are stronger than ever and there is still uncertainty with what is going to happen with Kevin Garnett. The Wolves also have Payne and Pekovic who are taking up two front court roster spots that could be used for players who may be more serviceable. The Timberwolves are also unlikely to resign Tayshaun Prince and Greg Smith. The Timbewolves also won’t bring back Damjan Rudez, who had a team option. Barring any significant trades though, free agency will look to address a couple of needs, in which we feel have importance in this order:
- A stretch power forward
- Three-point shooting
- Bench Scoring
- Front Court Depth
- Perimeter defense
The Timberwolves have $25M-$29M in cap space with the growing cap, which gives the Wolves a good amount of space to work with. Most of the league will have a similar amount of space since the Cap increased, but it puts the Wolves in a position to attract a couple decent free agents. The ideal free agents will be guys who can fill multiple of the five needs above. It also makes sense that the Wolves target guys who fit into the career trajectory of the current roster. Players should either be younger if they are signing a long term deal or on the wrong side of 30 who can give the Wolves an immediate, short-term, veteran boost. Using that framework to determine who the Wolves may be interested in, we will list the players in which we feel the Wolves would gain the most benefit of signing. Starting from the bottom…
This is a personal preference guy for me. Ennis has found his way around the league early in his career from the Heat to the Grizzlies and finally with the Pelicans where he got a lot of minutes. If there is a guy to fill out the roster, taking a chance on Ennis would be interesting. He has a decent 3-point shot and incredibly athletic. If put in the right position at 25 years old, he may be able to flourish.
An unpopular pick by most, but I think Jamal Crawford could add something the Wolves desperately need, bench scoring. Crawford is a three-time 6th man of the year so he has mastered the craft of coming off the bench and making an impact. He isn’t the most efficient of scorers but in games where other guys are not able to put points on the board, Crawford will not be shy to put shots up. What Crawford also does is provide the veteran leadership that could help the Wolves if they make a playoff push. It also is helpful that he is one of Zach LaVine’s biggest mentors and a guy Thibs has had on his radar for a long time.
Another fence swing before we get into more viable options. Speights is going to be 30 by the time he enters next season and might not make sense for him to leave a dynasty like the Warriors for the team that hasn’t made the playoffs in the longest time. But Speights could provide veteran leadership, scoring off the bench, and could be a stretch four in some situations. Speights has a three-point shot that he is likely trying to showcase somewhere since he wasn’t getting much playing time in Golden State. Not sure if both parties are on each others’ radars, but could be a decent fit.
Courtney Lee has be a solid performer anywhere he has played. While the Wolves might not have an ideal role carved out for him, he could secure a deal long-term at what is an inconvenient age of 30. What he could do is embrace a role similar to Andre Igoudala when he went to the Warriors in which he becomes the veteran leadership off the bench. His three-point shot is good and can absolutely score. Also, he has been a good defender and could compliment Zach LaVine when the Wolves play stronger two-guards.
The ideal 3-and-D guy who just needs to improve his shot a little. Hill played big when Paul George was injured and could be a spot starter in various situations, especially when injuries happen. He is still young (25) and can grow as a role player with the Wolves. He has the ability to stretch and play the four position mainly because of his toughness and rebounding ability at his size. He is due for a decent contract outside of Indiana since his skill set is valued around the league. A fun fact about him, he was Derrick Williams’ teammate in college.
Harkless may be my favorite free agent this summer. Harkless is 23 years old only and hasn’t really been given the opportunity to showcase his talent yet. Although he is a restricted free agent, it may be difficult for Portland to match an offer if they plan to retain Allen Crabbe and sign another free agent this summer. Harkless is the prototype stretch-4 who can guard both small and power forwards. Harkless also has the ability to hit the three (shot 38% in his second season). Moe seems like the definition of a late bloomer and could fit well as the starting power forward in a year or two. If the Wolves can find a way to sign him to a reasonable long-term contract, they may have found a steal in free agency here.
Teletovic can come and join the Wolves being someone who made him impact on Karl-Anthony Towns by draining a game-winner in his face. Teletovic is older and doesn’t have a ton of experience in the league but is one of the best shooters around. He is an absolute competitor and could solve the Wolves issues with spacing and three-point shooting for fairly cheap. He could be a short-term fix at power forward and just enough to help the Wolves make a playoff push.
Williams has been around and had a breakout season conveniently as his contract was expiring. Another stretch-4 who can shoot and guard both forward positions. He is a bit older than what the Wolves would want so it would be ideal to give him a two-year deal. The Wolves may lose him to competition nonetheless if they don’t want to give him a three or four year deal.
The most ideal free agent available. Luol Deng played his best basketball under Tom Thibodeau and now is a small-ball 4 that is versatile enough to come off the bench or start for the Wolves. If there is any free agent the Wolves have a realistic shot at landing that can truly turn the Wolves into a playoff team, it is Deng. He is still good defensively and can shoot. He wouldn’t have a problem being the 4th of 5th option on the floor either. Seems like he makes the most sense.
There are many other options that the Wolves could pursue but these guys make the most sense. Best case scenario is that the Wolves are able to land two of these guys. My preference of signings would be Moe Harkless and Solomon Hill to reasonable deals.
There are chances the Wolves talk to Joakim Noah and Al Horford but there is little sense in them coming here unless they don’t want the best contract that could be offered to them. Both players can make more for longer elsewhere and play in roles that probably fit their careers better.
I also hope the Wolves stay far away from Kent Bazemore. He is 27 and underwhelming in terms of what he can do, in my opinion. There are younger, cheaper options the Wolves could pursue that minimize the risk associated with using cap space on these guys. Bazemore will likely get a hefty deal somewhere, my hope is that it is not here.
If the Timberwolves are looking to make a reunion happen, the members of the All-Minnesota NBA team happen to all be free agents this summer. If you are not familiar with this team, it is essentially players who are in the NBA that are from Minnesota. Players included on this team are Kris Humphries, Jon Leuer, Alan Anderson, and Cole Aldrich. Although he has been out of the NBA for a year or so, Nate Wolters runs the point guard of that team, who also could sign with a team. All of the guys could potentially fit with the Wolves, although I don’t see Thibodeau being inclined to sign any of them.
The madness starts on Friday. Do you agree with this list? Anyone that we missed? Let us know!
What a dramatic night. I spent the draft taking in it all in with Wolves faithful at the Target Center for the Draft Party. While I was pretty excited about the Kris Dunn pick, most of the Timberwolves fans in attendance were shocked and wanted Buddy Hield. I, again, have indicated multiple times that I am not fond of Hield and would’ve preferred Murray if Dunn wasn’t the pick. So what happened last night? I would love to tell the story through tweets:
The Wolves draft Dunn
KAT is happy with his new toy
Trade rumors and #WojBombs start flying around
The Wolves get super close apparently to trading for Butler
Thibs and KAT talk about a trade. Maybe this was the breaking point?
From a high-level, the Wolves left the draft with one of the top prospects and one that can help immediately. Kris Dunn may be the best two-way player in the draft. His defensive prowess fits well with Thibodeau’s coaching style.
Rightfully so, there were a couple teams that had serious interest in acquiring Kris Dunn. This was never a secret. The Sixers were drooling over Dunn for weeks and then the Bulls emerged as a trade candidate. It sounds like the Sixers and Wolves had talks that included Ricky Rubio. The Bulls and Wolves had even more serious talks that included Zach LaVine. The Wolves were in a position to acquire either Nerlens Noel or Jimmy Butler. The actual details will never be known. The rumors were that LaVine was breaking point for Thibs in which he would not include him in the deal. I don’t think this is entirely true because not only is Butler far better than LaVine, but it would’ve conveniently opened up a starting position next to Wiggins for Butler.
The fact is, we cannot confirm the trade rumors of last night and we don’t know if someone will be traded. Many Timberwolves fans are upset for one reason or another but I invite you to keep the following in mind. The Wolves got better. They added depth and another asset. That is better than where the Wolves were on June 22nd. Something I pointed out that is interesting is that the value of Kris Dunn seems to be more valuable than the value of the 5th pick. This is influence and psychology working its wonders on the world. These are all good things.
Keep in mind, the state the Wolves are now in is fluid. There is more clarity, but trades can still happen. What is keeping many Timberwolves fans upset is that Tom Thibodeau is threatening to move the last remaining remnants of David Kahn’s era from the roster. Many Wolves fans and fans of the NBA have grown to love Ricky Rubio, for good reason. Rubio is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league and among the best playmakers. Unfortunately, everyone in the world knows he can’t shoot or score even. This makes him seem a little worse than he might be. Rubio influenced more wins maybe than anyone on the Timberwolves roster last year because he absolutely makes the players around him better.
Now the Wolves have Kris Dunn who has many of the same strengths and weaknesses as Rubio, who is already established. What do we make of the situation now? It requires a deeper look at the situation. A few points to make.
- Drafting Kris Dunn was a Win-Win for the Timberwolves. Why? The Wolves added the best ‘two-way’ player in the draft. This means, he either stays on the team and we benefit, or we trade him and we benefit. Many are crazy about Dunn around the league. Including Tom Thibodeau. As mentioned in the Press Conference, the marriage of a good two-way player like Dunn with Thibs could be amazing. It will be exciting to see what happens between the two.
- Can Rubio and Dunn co-exist? Not in the long term probably. But in the short-term? Sure. What’s better than having Ricky Rubio on your team? Having Ricky Rubio’s skill set on the floor for 48 minutes. I don’t think Thibs is comfortable handing the keys over to a rookie at point guard, which is why it makes sense that Rubio isn’t traded immediately. Dunn is also not a sure thing, like any draft pick. He will need to adjust to the NBA’s speed and toughness. That will take time.
- Rubio will have to improve to keep his job. Ricky has secured his spot as the starting point guard since he was a rookie. Since then, he has struggled to improve drastically.
- Rubio and Dunn are both trade assets. One will eventually move. And when they do, they will likely net the Timberwolves another solid asset. Who knows when either is traded but Rubio for Noel and maybe Luwawu (someone I have a man-crush on) could make sense. The Wolves still desperately need a starting power forward.
- While many believe Rubio and Dunn have redundant skills, they do have some pretty significant differences. Rubio is the ultimate team player and has one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the league. Although Ricky has his faults, Rubio is a proven and consistent commodity. Dunn on the other hand has the potential to be a far better scorer and better shooter than Ricky. Dunn also can finish around the rim much better than Ricky. Rubio has relied on his scream while he attempts a layup to go to the line for most of his career. Dunn has the ability to play above the rim and get to the free throw line, something Rubio will not be able to do.
- The Wolves didn’t address one of their biggest needs: shooting. While many are panicking, that shouldn’t be the case. Taking the best player available is a strategy that works most of the time. Expecting a rookie to immediately satisfy a need is a recipe for disaster. The Wolves did add something else they needed though, bench scoring.
- Staying on the topic of shooting. The Wolves will need to address this still through free agency/ trade and the development of their players. The Wolves will need LaVine, Wiggins and Towns to improve their shot to at least remove the team from the bottom of the rankings. Philosophy is also an important factor. Sam Mitchell was not someone who set players up for threes, which could be a factor in why the Wolves struggled so much. Thibs is clear on needing shooting and should address when training camp starts.
- From Thibodeau and Layden’s perspective, a trade last night may have been difficult. Especially moving Zach LaVine or Ricky Rubio. I am sure Thibodeau wants the opportunity to at least coach these guys. LaVine has the potential to really become a special player, which trading away so early may be a poor choice. Sometimes, not making the trade is the smarter move as well because typically the deals that weren’t done are mostly forgotten. How many remember the rumors of potentially moving Derrick Williams in a package for James Harden?
There is still an entire offseason that needs to play itself out. We forget we are only five days removed from the 2015-16 season. Dunn has said in his interview that he can learn from Rubio and looks forward to playing behind him. While many joke about the David Kahn days when Thibodeau said Dunn and Rubio can play together, it does seem possible. While shooting may be an issue, Rubio and Dunn could be effective in short stints. Defensively, they should shut down backcourts and offensively Dunn would benefit from Rubio’s playmaking ability.
Certainly, there will be more to come. Please let us know your thoughts and share!
The Timber Rebuilder