For the past few years, a guarded optimism has been buzzing in the Twin Cities. It was at a real high during Kevin Love's final two seasons in Minnesota.
Once Kevin Love was shipped off to Cleveland, the fanbase understood that it would be a tough year. However, among the team, they legitimately believed they could sneak into the playoffs. Had the squad stayed healthy, could a veteran core of Rubio, Martin, Thaddeus Young, and Nikola Pekovic mesh with the young guns: LaVine, Wiggins, Muhammad, Payne, and Dieng; and return to the postseason?
Now, Karl-Anthony Towns joins Andrew Wiggins and a Timberwolves franchise that is ready to make some noise in the Western Conference.
If the Wolves can stay healthy, I legitimately believe they'll be in the thick of the 7-8 seed race in the West. If Flip Saunders can figure out how to incorporate the new guys, while keeping his veterans healthy, the Wolves could get to that 40-win mark.
A 40-win mark wouldn't be enough in the loaded Western Conference, however it doesn't matter much, because I honestly believe the Wolves will likely finish with about 30 wins. Which means, I don't believe that all these pieces are instantly going to gel and mesh. These Wolves are still young and their will still be some growing pains.
In addition to selecting Towns with the first overall pick, the Wolves also swung a trade with the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers sending them the 31st & 36th picks in the draft for the 24th selection, whom they selected Minnesota native Tyus Jones.
Jones is still very raw and I'm one of many who believe he probably should've stayed at Duke for another season. Nonetheless, he's playing for his hometown Wolves and there are plenty of fans, players, and front office members who are excited to have him.
The Wolves are still seeking depth at point guard. As of right now, they have Jones (best suited as a 3rd string PG) and Lorenzo Brown (could be a 2nd string PG, though his consistency would be a glaring concern). The Wolves have been linked to veteran point guards like Mario Chalmers, Kendall Marshall, and Andre Miller. In order to sign Marshall or Miller, they would have to waive someone, with Brown or newly acquired forward Damjan Rudez being the most likely candidates.
Speaking of Damjan Rudez: the Wolves traded Chase Budinger to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Damjan Rudez. Rudez is a versatile forward who would likely be best categorized as a stretch four. He'll go to training camp with Minnesota, but I don't think they'd hesitate to trade or waive him, with their loaded front court and logjam on the wings.
Speaking on those logjams...let's take at a projected depth chart for these 2015-16 Wolves...
PG: Ricky Rubio, Lorenzo Brown, Tyus Jones
SG: Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine
SF: Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Damjan Rudez
PF: Kevin Garnett, Adriean Payne, Nemanja Bjelica, Anthony Bennett
C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic
You may notice another new name on that roster: Nemanja Bjelica. If you're a long time Wolves fan, that name may not be completely foreign to you...even if it is (...get it?...?) The 2010 Wolves draftee finally joins Minnesota fresh off a season in which he was named Euroleague MVP. He'll be battling in a loaded front court for minutes, but he could be a very intriguing 27-year-old rookie for the Timberwolves.
The Wolves could still balance out their roster before the season begins. They could use an additional shooting guard and or a veteran point guard. If the Wolves could, they would gladly move former #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, however they have to trick a team into believing that they can still get something out of him, while paying him $5.7million this season.
The Wolves aren't quite done shuffling their deck, but for the most part the roster is very much in place. What kind of grade would I give the Wolves offseason? I would give it a B. It would be higher if they could move Anthony Bennett and if they would've signed Kevin Garnett for a lower dollar amount. I don't think you'll find anyone who believes KG is still worth $8million a year!!
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!