With Jimmy Butler finally traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves, it feels like the Wolves season is just truly beginning, as if we can finally take a breath and take stock of the true makeup of the team. Going into the season we were prepared for another go-around on the Timberbulls train, hopefully getting further into the playoffs with the young cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins taking a step forward. That mindset was quickly blown to smithereens by the Butler debacle and continuous public dragging of this franchise.
But with our collective purgatory ending, we suddenly have a team to talk about. A team that, with a theoretical core of Wiggins, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Towns, has the makeup of a pretty solid 2-4 that can play in today’s modern NBA. Every one of those players can shoot threes and switch positions.
Wiggins and Covington are a huge wing tandem that teams dream of and Covington’s defensive chops will let Wiggins focus on offense. The Saric-Towns combo is the idealized version of the Nemanja Bjelica-Towns combo that we fantasized over. Towns has really never had a shooting four beside him for significant minutes and it would seem impossible for any team to guard Towns if he is in the post and surrounded by shooters at every position.
All of the sudden, the core of this roster is starting to make sense.
Of course, this being the Timberwolves, the rest of the roster remains in flux. They also have to, you know, actually play some basketball games starting tonight. A lot of the reporting coming out after the trade, such as Woj’s piece here, is laying the groundwork for a move from Thibodeau, which is becoming overdue at this point. The only way for Thibs to survive the current furor would have been if he was either able to truly convince Jimmy to stay or pivot quickly to creating a team around Towns. Doing neither, he will likely be the fall-man for the mess he created.
The remaining questions on the roster, such as what to do with the point guard situation, may not be decided by Thibodeau, but he will be making the decisions in the near future. Who knows what kind of lineups the Wolves are going to trot out tonight. I would bet that Taj Gibson will remain the starter in the short term, but Saric’s introduction into the rotation could mean Gorgui Dieng is outside the rotation entirely.
However, that is just a small component of the coming changes. This season, it has seemed that whenever Butler was out, Derrick Rose just slid into his spot on offense. Right now, Rose is third on the team if field goal attempts per game behind Butler and Wiggins. Will the offense be reconfigured? Or will Thibs simply charge ahead with the new players filling in the gaps.
At the very least, we at least have a reason to be excited again, or at least slightly optimistic. The Wolves were their own worst enemy these past few months. Finally moving on from Butler feels like a weight has come off the chest of the collective. More changes are likely coming at some point this season as it may make sense to try to move some of the veterans so that this roster can be reconfigured. Whose decision that is will remain to be seen. But the Wolves at least have made a step in the right direction.