Predicted finish: 13th in the West (4th in the Northwest, 23 in the power rankings)
Last seasons conference finish: 14th in the West
The Minnesota Timberwolves have all their chips in on the D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns duo. Call me a cynic but I just don’t see this working out. Neither play any kind of defence at all and both play games that I’m not fully sure if they fit or not. Russell is a heavy pick and roll guy and KAT to me is at his best controlling the ball himself, not just screening. Here we are though, with them getting an entire season to try and make it work. Joining them is first overall pick Anthony Edwards, TMZ star Malik Beasley and young guys Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver who have been okay. This roster is thin, heavily dependent on Russell and Towns and has very few plus defenders, what could possibly go wrong?
The big question for the franchise: Is D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns really a winning duo?
Neither Russell or Towns have won much of anything in this league. Both have made the playoffs once and otherwise been lottery mainstays so building around them is interesting. The good news is both are really good offensive players and great friends so hopefully that bond will help them work together throughout the season. Until I see it work I’m going to be skeptical though. Russell is a live and die by the pick and roll kind of guard and Towns isn’t really that type of big at all. How they’ll mesh two seemingly conflicting styles will be interesting, especially with the major holes they have defensively. My guess is it’s going to take another year minimum to surround them with the 3 and D wings you’d need to really make this work and I just don’t know if they’ll have enough time to do it.
One move I want to see them make: Bring in a veteran forward or wing who can help defensively
As I said above, it feels like to make this thing work, they’re going to need to upgrade the forward and wing spots, particularly defensively. A guy like Aaron Gordon would make a ton of sense for them for example. They just need that guy who can help them be passable defensively so the hopefully offensively dominant pairing of Towns and Russell can flourish. Right now they just don’t have it and I think their defence is going to suffer dramatically because of it.
Offseason Grade: C+
Anthony Edwards was probably the right pick at one so that was good and I like the Rubio addition to stabilize their bench. However, for a team with two massive defensive holes for stars, adding no plus defenders of note is concerning to put it lightly. Also, the massive contract they gave to Beasley feels destined to be disastrous with how his time away from the game went. As disappointing or bad as those were, the Edwards move was the right one and for that Wolves fans should be at least satisfied.
Young player I’m excited for: Anthony Edwards
But of course the answer has to be the franchise’s number one pick. Edwards has virtually unlimited talent, with a ceiling as high as anyone in recent draft history. That doesn’t mean he comes without concern though. Edwards motor was a problem all year long at Georgia as was his decision making and overall love for the game. If he hits, with his body and athleticism he could easily be a perennial All-Star. With so many red flags though, it’s far from guaranteed and that’s why he’ll be must watch this season.
Minnesota went all in on a duo that it hopes will keep their star happy. For me though, they bring into 2020-21 a deeply flawed group that lacks depth and feels a lock to end up back high in the lottery. At some point it begs the question if this year could be the final straw for KAT in the Twin cities if he can’t even make it work with one of his best friends on the team.