Dancing with the Wolves: Will Minnesota's Offseaon Efforts Pay Off?
Written By Rahul Lal
The Minnesota Timberwolves quickly went from up-and-comers to a team that’s expected to perform with their acquisitions this offseason. Potentially the biggest offseason trade brought all-star Jimmy Butler to Minnesota to be reunited with his former head coach Tom Thibodeau. Butler will join a talented core of Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins as well as a group of experienced veterans who signed in Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson. The Wolves still boast starter Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica.
One of the biggest questions going around is whether the Wolves will be able to get it together this season and provide a real threat to any of the top teams. Playing in the Western Conference will give them a nightly challenge and force the youngins to grow up quickly. There are three steps to turning the Wolves into a real competitor that need to take place this season.
First, Jimmy Butler and the new players need to build some chemistry with the existing roster. Having experience playing under Thibs is great and should go a long way but it isn’t going to stop a problem from existing. Whether it was DeMarcus Cousins joining the Pelicans or Kevin Durant joining the Warriors, there was a period of time that it took to gel. The second step is for Andrew Wiggins to accept his role. Coming off a season where he averaged nearly 24 points a game off 19 shots, Wiggins will need to learn how to take a step down and be happy with 14-15 shots a game. Jimmy Butler is bringing in 24 points of his own with over 16 shot attempts per game. Don’t forget to add in a player like Jamal Crawford who is also used to double digit shot attempts and loves to hold the ball as the primary ball handler on possessions.
The last step before they can find success is seeing just what Jeff Teague has to offer. On paper, this seems like a decent signing as he’s a bargain deal and has the playoff and all-star experience. That experience can also become their biggest issue as Teague is the only player being brought in who will have to downsize his role from a key player to a role player of sorts. In Atlanta, Teague controlled the game on both ends, the ball went through him on each possession. In Indiana, Teague was even asked to provide some scoring in addition to being a floor general. In Minnesota, Teague is going to be relegated to being a ball handler and playmaker - something he hasn’t had to do since he was just starting out in the league. His talent isn’t gone by any means but his role is going to be new, we’ll see how long it takes before he accepts that role. The Timberwolves have the chance to challenge the best teams in the West very soon but it won’t happen until these issues are sorted and solved.