#CanisMailbag— Prince Jerry 7goda (@Jerry7goda) May 11, 2016
Who will play surprisingly well for Thibs and earn more minutes/bigger role than expected?
With the roster as it is currently configured, there are really only two options: Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica (I'm not counting Shabazz Muhammad because he was sixth on the team in minutes this past season and I think his role is pretty set in stone at this point). I wrote last week about Jones and argued that I think he should be the team's primary backup point guard, so I think he will play well under Thibodeau and will drastically improve over last season, but I think Bjelica is also due to improve under the New Wolves Order.
I think Bjelica could turn some heads next year. He has the ability to impact games in a similar fashion to that of which Nikola Mirotic provided for the Bulls during his rookie year when Thibs was his coach; Mirotic posted pretty solid offensive numbers including recording an offensive rating of 111, compiling 5.7 win shares, and averaging 18.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, according to Basketball Reference. I think an increase in minutes as well as a greater emphasis on spacing the floor and allowing him to be more of a playmaker will dramatically improve Bjelica's play, maybe even to the point where he becomes the unquestioned sixth man for the Wolves.
#CanisMailbag Will Prince be back? Either way, how does the team round out the wing rotation for next season?— SlowBreak (@AverageJer) May 11, 2016
I imagine that Thibodeau would like to have Tayshaun Prince come back next season to provide bench depth and a veteran presence, especially on defense, but ultimately it will be up to Prince to decide if he'd be alright with logging less minutes next year than he did this year. The Wolves could resign Prince to another very cheap, one-year deal, but it would be nice if he were the team's 10th man rather than a prominent member of the second unit. I question if he'd be fine with that role.
As for the wing rotation, I suppose it kind of depends on what the Wolves decide to do with their draft pick and in free agency. Wiggins is a lock to be starting and, barring a major move in free agency, I think the same can be said for LaVine. Muhammad will be one of the first players off the bench and I could see the Wolves signing a veteran wing in free agency who is clearly a bench player, but can provide valuable minutes with the second unit, like Courtney Lee. If the Wolves draft Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield, or Jaylen Brown, they would definitely be coming off the bench as a role player in the 7th-10th man range. If the Wolves make a major splash and sign a starting caliber wing, I imagine LaVine would become the team's sixth man.
#CanisMailbag why does Rubio not finish well around the rim?— Matt Wieland (@mattwiels) May 11, 2016
I've wondered this for a while and I spent some time this past season watching how Rubio attacks the basket. It's tough to pinpoint one or two things and say for sure that they are the reason why Rubio struggles, but, in my opinion, there are a few reasons as to why. When Rubio drives to the hoop, he often likes to go up off of one foot and with one hand; he kind of scoops the ball with it away from his body as he is going up. This isn't in and of itself a bad thing, but when the lane is jammed or there is a defender on his hip, that position doesn't really lend itself to be able to absorb much contact. Any amount of contact would then have the potential to throw off the trajectory Rubio had unconsciously calculated, leading to his shot being off and, thus, not being able to finish around the rim.
The trouble with Rubio is that he is not athletic and explosive enough to go off of two-feet in the lane, which would alleviate some of the contact issues, but I think if he went up with two-hands more often that would put his body in a more controlled position, which would possibly lead to more converted buckets. Watch Rubio's layups from the first game of the year against the Lakers and you'll see that he converts them when he does just that.
But I think the biggest reason Rubio struggles is that he just doesn't have very good touch. The ball comes out of his hand kind of flat and hard when he goes up for a layup, which lends him a pretty slim margin for error, leading to many misses. Again, I think going up with two-hands in a more controlled position may help him out and could lead to him drawing even more fouls, though it possibly would put him in a position to be blocked more often.
There are a few names I would like the Wolves to pursue in free agency. First off, the Wolves should offer Kevin Durant a max deal the moment free agency opens up. That being said, I will eat not only my hat, but all of the hats on Earth if he does end up donning a Timberwolves' jersey. The move would make at least some sense from a basketball perspective (mostly because of playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins), but it makes almost no sense from a business perspective as Minnesota isn't any bigger of a market than Oklahoma City. And for all intents and purposes, he loves playing in OKC alongside Russell Westbrook. Honestly, I would kind of be shocked in Durant left to go anywhere, especially because of the way the Thunder are playing in the playoffs. Because the Thunder have now advanced past the San Antonio Spurs, I think it is almost a lock that Durant returns to OKC.
As for other names, here are a few, listed in tiers in no particular order:
10/10, Would Max Tier:
Al Horford (play compliments KAT's nicely and his game should age pretty well)
That's What I Call A Very Solid Signing *two thumbs up* Tier:
Nicolas Batum (he can do basically everything the Wolves need, except for guard 4's)
Kent Bazemore (very solid wing who is in the same age range as the young Wolves' core)
Luol Deng (he would provide some fun lineup options, plus Thibs loves him)
Marvin Williams (a stretch four who also plays defense)
If the Price Is Right Tier:
Harrison Barnes (I've turned on Barnes; a max contract would be too much, but, for the right price, he'd be a good fit)
Joakim Noah (another ex-Bull who would be a good addition if he can stay healthy)
Zaza Pachulia (9 points, 9 boards, and solid defense every game. I'm sold.)
Courtney Lee (veteran 3&D wing)