The Wolves have, for the last few years, been the “young and fun” team. The type of team that excites the league pass NBA folks but does not really amount to many wins. The “Bounce Bros” flying all over the court and the team building up early leads only to watch them slip away in the second half. The Wolves were simply a young team, extremely reliant upon their young stars to carry the load.
However, the Wolves did not rate as one of the five youngest teams in the league last year. Those were:
- Philadelphia - 24.18 years old
- Portland - 24.95 years old
- Toronto - 25.04 years old
- Phoenix - 25.16 years old
- Denver - 25.38 years old.
To give a barometer of the opposite end of the spectrum, the Cavaliers were the oldest team in the league at 30.52 years old.
However, the Wolves played their young players extremely heavy minutes. The top ten players on the Wolves in terms of overall minutes had the average age of 24.3 years old. The top five, which were Wiggins, Towns, Dieng, Rubio, and LaVine, had an average of 23.2 years between them. That is a young team.
Next year, things will be different. Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague are both older than their replacements and the likely top two bench players, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford, are certainly much older than the two bench leaders, in terms of minutes, last year of Shabazz Muhammad and Kris Dunn.
The average age of the starters next year will be 25.8 years old. The average age of the top ten minutes per game players on the Wolves (which is really only 9 players for now, as I have a listed “mystery wing” occupying the 10th spot) is 27.55 years old.
That is a big difference from last year, as the team will be 2.5 years older among the starters and at least 3.25 years older overall.
One thing that immediately stands out after putting this all together is how quickly the Wolves became a veteran team. Last year, half of the players who played the most minutes were 22 years old or younger. Then there was Rubio at 26, Dieng at 27, and Shabazz at 24. That is a really young team.
The upcoming year, the Wolves will be really reliant upon true veterans. Let’s say this “mystery wing” is Tony Allen. All the sudden the team’s average age is 28.4. That is a pretty old team. The only young players left that the Wolves are really relying upon are Wiggins, Towns, and Tyus Jones.
It will be interesting to see how Wiggins and Towns respond to this new environment, as it will be a major deviation from the norm for both players.
The Wolves have certainly traded youth and potential for fully-realized players. Even within the Rubio-Teague swap is the same idea. Teague is not anybody’s idea of an “exciting” point guard, but his skills and limitations are known. There is not the never-ending mystery that came with Rubio about “if this was the time when the jump shot was real.”
It is hard to argue against this approach, as it is not as if this team was about to take the league by a storm anytime soon. The Rubio-LaVine-Wiggins-Dieng-Towns lineup essentially had a full-year between the post-All Star break in the 2015-2016 season and the pre-LaVine injury time of the 2016-2017 season.
That lineup went 31-47 over 78 games, almost a full season, which is right around where the Wolves finished last year that landed them the 7th overall pick in the lottery. It was time for a change and the veterans are here to lead the charge.