2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Minnesota Timberwolves
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
47 – 35, 4th in the Northwest Division. Lost to the Houston Rockets (4 – 1) in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
A season after bringing in former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves started their transition to an older version of that Bulls team. They traded for Jimmy Butler last offseason and added Taj Gibson via free agency, while claiming Derrick Rose off waivers right after the trade deadline. With a good combination of youth and experience, plus Thibodeau’s defensive expertise, the Wolves were expected to take a big step further and fight for home court advantage during the regular season. Instead, they barely made the playoffs as the 8th seed on the last day of the regular season.
Jamal Crawford, G; Nemanja Bjelica, F
Anthony Tolliver, F
Player to Watch:
Tyus Jones, PG
Last season featured some locker room drama and off-court issues, the two biggest of which being Jimmy Butler’s future with the team and Karl-Anthony Towns’ relationship with the front office. The Western Conference has never been tougher, so if the Wolves really want to make the playoffs they will all need to quit the unnecessary drama and focus on producing on the court.
Other key factors for the Wolves this season will be: (1) health, which derailed Minnesota to a certain extent last season with Butler missing 23 games; (2) Andrew Wiggins’ game, which should be better after the adjustment of taking a smaller role starting last season; (3) team defense, as both Towns and Wiggins have the physical tools to be good defenders and form a nice defensive lineup alongside Butler and Taj Gibson; and (4) Thibodeau’s minutes distribution, as the starters could use some extra rest and their good prospects deserve better shots at proving their worth.
Worst Case Scenario:
The team misses the playoffs as the drama continues, nobody gives any indication of having a desire to play defense and the team trades Butler mid-season as Minnesota realizes there is no chance of re-signing him next summer.
Best Case Scenario:
The team figures things out, starts playing defense, makes Butler happy and remains healthy on their way to the 4th seed in the Western Conference.
49 – 33, 3rd in Northwest Division.