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Tuesday Musings: August Blues

Slogging through the dead months of the offseason

2018 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

August. The time that is loved by NBA players, for it is truly one of their only months off. The millionaires get to flock to the distant reaches of the globe, enjoying their lives of luxury (albeit while likely still training for the upcoming year). Most of the NBA goes into hiatus during August, as absolutely nothing happens other than made-up social media feuds, such as a the supposed fight between Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade.

For the rest of us, for those lonely few that struggle to push out relevant content during these bone-dry months, we scrape the barrel of ideas hoping to find something useful at the bottom. For a team like the Timberwolves, where so little has changed from the previous year, that is even more difficult.

So, as the end of August approaches, let’s take a look at a few of the questions that we have been bandying about with no conclusion for the past few months.

  1. Will the Wolves make any substantial changes to their lineup?

The Wolves were one of the most consistent teams with their lineup rotations throughout the year, primarily due to the heavy reliance on the starters and the lack of a bench that inspired trust in Tom Thibodeau. There simply was not many ways to mix and match the group considering the roster was overloaded with bigs and, for most of the year, Thibs was reluctant to play dual point guards.

This year, while the starting group should remain the same, the Wolves essentially added three wings to their roster in Josh Okogie, Keita-Bates Diop, and James Nunnally. Thibs also has liked to use Derrick Rose as a backup wing, which further deepens the wing rotation. Now, while this may all sound theoretically good that the Wolves have four-ish backup wings rather than zero, it’s also fair to say that the Wolves are now reliant upon two rookies, a journeyman G-League player, and a guy who hasn’t been able to play consistent minutes in five years as their backup wings.

So, while it is likely that the Wolves will have more flexibility with their lineups this year, everything could fall apart real fast.

2. Will the Wolves be able to play better defense this year?

Jamal Crawford will not be getting major minutes this year. That will help. However, Derrick Rose will, that will hurt. For all the chagrin that Karl-Anthony Towns, rightfully, receives for his defense, the Wolves starting lineup had a defensive rating of 104.2 last year, which is pretty solid.

Theoretically, as Towns and Andrew Wiggins have another year under their belt, the Wolves defense should only improve this year. For a variety of reasons, it seems reasonable to expect the Wolves to jump from one of the worst defensive ratings in the league to the middle of the pack. Of course, just putting that out there into the world means that something new will crop up unexpectedly and the Wolves will succeed in failing expectations yet again.

3. Will Tom Thibodeau drive most of us mad next year?

Yes. There is simply no way around it. It is incredibly unlikely that Thibs changes the way he coaches next year. We will get upset about rotations, Derrick Rose’s playing time, and a obstinate offense that is going to be near the end of the league in three-point attempts per game. The only solace is that almost every fanbase hates their coach with a passion for most of the season, particularly game-to-game.

4. Will the Wolves be good?

Almost certainly. This team is a legitimate threat to hit over fifty wins and a top-four seed in the West. People seem to be sleeping on the Wolves this year due to their struggles to slip into the playoffs and the lack of change in the offseason. But this is a solid team as long as Jimmy Butler is healthy (knocks on all the wood in the world).

What else is on your mind as the doldrums of August come to an end?