Does Tom Thibodeau expect the rookies — Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop — to develop this season while rarely getting off the bench? I’m starting to think that game reps don’t matter much to him when it comes to end of bench youngsters. This is what Thibs offered up to media members in regards to his rotation:
Thibodeau said the Wolves have to “settle in to a 9-man rotation” and that Josh Okogie is not in that rotation but that he “has to stay ready.”— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) October 19, 2018
I’d assume the rotation is the same as the opener. Possibly more Tolliver versus a smaller Cleveland team.
Now, I don’t think anyone was expecting Josh Okogie, Minnesota’s first round pick from the 2018 draft, to play a substantial amount of minutes this season. The same is true for KBD, and it’s also true that a 9 or 10-man rotation is pretty standard for NBA teams. The issue that comes with this discouraging quote is where those minutes that could go to Okogie are actually going to go.
Maybe this is an overreaction to one game, but the idea that Thibodeau is willing to give 30 minutes to Derrick Rose, in the year 2018, is ridiculous. Rose could be a useful spark at times, a source of instant offense off the bench if he played somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes per game. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to be used that way, though. Thibs seems intent on playing Rose like he is still his former-MVP version of himself and that’s going to be a major problem.
A more bearable solution for the Wolves would be to play Rose those suggested 15-20 minutes per game, and give the leftover minutes to Okogie. It’s not that Okogie playing a end-of-rotation player’s amount of minutes would make a huge difference on the outcome of the Wolves’ season. It would, however, allow Minnesota to get a look at their athletic rookie in a real-game setting. He’s not ready to be a consistent offensive contributor, but Okogie could add some off-ball cutting on offense and wouldn’t be looking to get his own all the time. He also showed during the preseason that he can use his energy and athleticism to make a difference on the defensive end. That’s an area where Minnesota could surely use some additional help.
Beyond what Okogie could provide the team, it would also be cool to let him make some mistakes when it matters and learn from them in an actual game. Ultimately, this makes me a lot more pessimistic that we will see as much of Okogie as originally hoped, and that will likely hurt both him and the Wolves.