The Wolves announced a 5-year, $60 million contract Wednesday for Nikola Pekovic that essentially finishes off their roster shopping for the season. There is probably one spot left, and it will go to an end-of-the-bench type.
The starting five figures to be something like this: C-Nikola Pekovic; PF-Kevin Love (pictured); SF-Corey Brewer; SG-Kevin Martin; PG-Ricky Rubio.
The first four players off the bench on many nights figure to be: Chase Budinger, J.J. Barea, Dante Cunningham and possibly Ronny Turiaf, at least early in the season.
The four players whose playing time appears to be most nebulous are: Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng.
So what we have here is a team that won 15 games in the 2009-10 season, had lottery picks in 2010, 2011 and 2013 … and is now poised to challenge for the playoffs, perhaps without a major contribution from any of those picks.
Wes Johnson was the pick in 2010, and he’s gone. Williams was the pick in 2011, and he figures to have challenges finding playing time as long as Love, Brewer and Budinger stay healthy. Same goes for Muhammad, who could even wind up in the D-League. Dieng will need seasoning as a rookie shot-blocker.
Maybe Williams breaks through. Maybe Shved carves out a niche. Maybe Muhammad scores in bunches. Maybe Dieng is a force.
Or maybe the Wolves triple their wins from four seasons ago without much help from any of the past four drafts.