Thursday (The depth of the new Wolves) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • July 11, 2013 - 10:01 AM

The dust is very close to settling on this Timberwolves off-season. They passed on C.J. McCollum in the draft, instead, trading down and ending up with Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Andrei Kirilenko, Greg Stiemsma, Malcolm Lee and Luke Ridnour are on the way out for various reasons. Chase Budinger is staying, and Nikola Pekovic appears to be. Kevin Martin is coming in. All the maneuvering should leave the Wolves with better roster balance (adding 2s/3s and subtracting PGs) and with a good amount of talent. It could also create some logjams for minutes and questions about defense. 

*Here's how we see the starting lineup: Ricky Rubio, PG; Kevin Martin, SG; Chase Budinger, SF; Kevin Love, PF; Nikola Pekovic, C. Also in the hunt for major minutes off the bench: J.J. Barea, Corey Brewer, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Dante Cunningham, Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved. What might be a better solution is to start Brewer, giving Minnesota's first unit another defensive presence, instead of Budinger and let Chase come off the bench for offense. They would both play roughly the same number of minutes, but much would depend on matchups. We shall see.

*Regardless, defense is going to be a question. Rubio is an astute defender and plays passing lanes very well. Martin, Love and Pekovic, however, are not at all known for defense -- nor are Barea, Muhammad and Williams, for that matter. Minnesota won't have a hard time reaching 100 points on many nights. Without a commitment to team defense, however, they will also have a hard time keeping foes under 100. This, in addition to keeping all his shooters happy on offense, will be Rick Adelman's biggest challenge.

*All 12 guys listed aren't going to be healthy for all 82 games. That's a given. But when they are all available, who are going to be the odd men out? Well, our first candidate is Shved. He played a lot of wing by necessity last year. He was useful at times, but when his shot wasn't falling, he wasn't terribly useful. He averaged 24 mpg as a rookie. If that's cut in half this year, we would hardly be shocked. Next up, we hate to say, is Williams. Where is he going to play if Love is healthy and going 38 mpg? Even if Love slides over and can play center from time to time against certain teams, it's hard to picture Williams playing more than 20 minutes. If the Wolves thought he could be a true small forward, they wouldn't have brought in Muhammad, Budinger and Brewer. Speaking of Muhammad, we're imagining very limited minutes his first season unless there are injury problems. It wouldn't shock us at all if Dieng played more than him based on need (there is no true center aside from Pek now that Stiemsma is gone) and what he brings to the table.

Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

© 2018 Star Tribune