Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler, where there are no bad ideas. Just putting things on the whiteboard here. Let’s go:
*The Timberwolves have signed Derrick Rose and Anthony Tolliver so far in free agency. Neither of those are seismic moves in a Western Conference that gets more intimidating by the day (hello, Boogie Cousins), but they speak at least to a desire to build a better functioning second unit than they have had in the recent past.
Rose showed in flashes, particularly in the playoffs, that when healthy he can still get up the floor and score. Tolliver has become a strong three-point shooter since his last stint with the Wolves, particularly in catch-and-shoot situations (where he hit 44.1 percent of his threes last season with Detroit on 4.5 attempts per game). If you pair Tyus Jones with Rose, you have two guys who can handle the ball — one who sees the floor and one who runs it.
But imagine adding one more dynamic scorer to that unit: Andrew Wiggins.
Wait, you might be thinking. Is that the same Wiggins who is a former No. 1 overall pick and just signed a massive extension?
Yeah, that’s the guy. (Remember, we are just putting stuff on the whiteboard).
Wiggins bogged down last year with the addition of Jimmy Butler. Perhaps just as notable was the switch from point guard Ricky Rubio to Jeff Teague and a change in the style of offense the Wolves played. It added up to a much lower usage rate for Wiggins than he had enjoyed the previous season as well as decreased production.
If the other four presumed starters are Karl-Anthony Towns, Butler, Teague and Taj Gibson, there is already plenty of scoring without Wiggins.
What if the Wolves slid rookie Josh Okogie into the other starting wing spot and made Wiggins a super-sub who played 30+ minutes a game — many of which could come with an athletic, dangerous, small-ball second unit that included Rose, Jones and Tolliver? It would get Wiggins out in space more, give him a sense of ownership and higher usage rate as well as perhaps let him dominate other teams’ bench players. And Okogie, a better three-point shooter who has a reputation for playing good defense with his long wingspan, could be a good fit in the starting lineup.
The fear would be failing to get buy-in from Wiggins and further losing him, but he’s not playing for a contract. He already has it. If he embraced that role, even temporarily in his career, he could blossom and the Wolves could flourish.
Wiggins could be a Sixth Man of the Year award winner like James Harden (16.8 ppg in 2011-12), Eric Gordon (16.2 ppg in 2016-17) or Lou Wiliams (22.6 ppg last year), all of whom averaged more than 30 minutes despite coming off the bench in the vast majority of their games in those seasons.
*OK, if that’s a little too crazy for you then can we all at least agree that this Marvin Bagley Jr. dunk from NBA Summer League action Monday was superb?
*Willians Astudillo update: After going 2 for 4 against Milwaukee, the free-swinging recent Twins call-up is 5 for 11 in his brief career. He has neither struck out nor walked, and he has seen a total of 34 pitches in his 11 plate appearances.