Well, the normalcy of the Minnesota Timberwolves has ended yet again. After a semi-rousing victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the dumpster fire of dysfunction has returned with Jimmy Butler sitting out tonight and seemingly threaten to sit out in the future.
Butler started contemplating not playing tonight on Tuesday, and the final decision was made Wednesday morning, sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski. Timberwolves termed it "general soreness and precautionary rest,” but Butler informed Tom Thibodeau of his decision.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 31, 2018
So that is great. Jeff Teague will also be out tonight with a knee contusion, which will hopefully not be a lingering issue. This leaves the Wolves quite shorthanded without Teague and Butler, but at least one would think that this would be a chance for Tyus Jones to step into the starting role once again. Last year, when Jones was provided more minutes with the starters he played extremely well and this could be another great opportuni-.
Oh wait. I forgot. We were in dysfunction zone.
With Jeff Teague out tonight, Tom Thibodeau said he was "undecided" on who would start in his place.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) October 31, 2018
Last season, Tyus Jones played 260 minutes with the other four starters and tallied a net-rating of plus-24.3 in that time. He started 11 games in place of Teague last season.
That “undecided” means that Thibs is unsure if Derrick Rose is going to start instead. Basically, three of Jones, Rose, Wiggins, and Josh Okogie are going to be at 1-3 in the starting lineup. It’s really anyone’s guess at this point what combination will be starting.
Rose, after a few games of effective shooting, now has the third worst true shooting percentage in the NBA among players who are shooting more than ten shots a game. Of course, it would not be the Wolves if they did not have company on that list, as Jeff Teague ranks 9th worst in the NBA on that list. The good news is that Wiggins is nowhere to be found! That is a list he normally dominates.
Whatever happens, this is going to be a lineup that plays right into the Utah Jazz’s strategy. With Wiggins, Okogie, and Gibson on the floor at the same time, the Wolves are not going to have a lot of outside shooting to extend the floor against the Jazz. The paint is going to be clogged, which is the kind of grindfest that the Jazz are looking for. Adding Rose to the mix, particularly after watching him challenge JaVale McGee over and over again, will not be great against Rudy Gobert.
For the Jazz’s part, they have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but have bounced back with a recent 3-1 run in the last week. Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio have both had a rough shooting start to their seasons, but Mitchell has seemed to realize that he was pressing too much after his stellar rookie campaign and is settling back into his rhythm. Years ago, we saw Karl-Anthony Towns do the same after his rookie campaign, where he seemed to fall to his own hype that he needed to be the best player on the court at all times rather than let the game come to him. Mitchell will be just fine, as evidenced by his 38 point outburst against Houston.
Rubio, as we all know, will likely confound us all for his career with his shooting streaks. One of the biggest questions for the Jazz this year is how sustainable is his hot shooting during the second half of last season. This season has been a mixed bag, but we are only six games in. As always, it will be great to see Ricky play well. The split seems to have been best for everyone (other than Wolves fans of course).
The Jazz have their own injuries to Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, and potentially Jae Crowder that they are dealing with, but this is a team that essentially is running it back after their 2nd round playoff appearance last year. The Jazz have a good chance to be one of the top seeds in the Western Conference this year and are anchored by Rudy Gobert on both ends of the floor.
The Rockets exposed the Jazz during the post-season by effectively pulling Gobert out of the paint at every opportunity. It remains an open question about how teams can scheme out the Jazz in the postseason. However, fortunately for the Jazz, the Wolves absolutely do not have the personnel to do that. If we see a Rose, Wiggins, and Okogie group, they are simply going to barrel at Gobert all night.
Happy Halloween! The broken Wolves are likely back after a one-game absence.
Projected Starting Lineups
Tyus Jones/Derrick Rose
At least we get to revel in the schadenfreude.