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Creating an All-Time Timberwolves Roster

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An attempt to form the best Wolves roster.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This is probably going to be slightly controversial, but there’s simply not much else to do during these quarantined times than argue about your franchises 15 best players ever. I’m going to try to put together an All-Time roster that I think would win the most games. A lot of this is talent based, for obvious reasons, but I prioritized toughness, defense, and chemistry on the final three roster spots. There are roles to fill on every basketball team and we’re going to sacrifice a little bit of talent to try to put the best possible roster in terms of actually winning basketball games. Where talent (or lackthereof) was relatively equal, I tried to fit the puzzle pieces together best I could.

A couple notes to get out of the way beforehand:

  • I’m 23 years old, and I’m well aware of the fact that I may miss a few of the earlier Wolves for this reason. If you prefer some of the earlier Wolves to some of the guys that I picked, well, my bad. I probably have no recollection of that player, although I am going to try my best to incorporate as many players from different eras as possible. It’s just likely I’m going to miss someone from the late ‘90s or so.
  • I wasn’t quite sure where to draw the line on length of time spent in a Wolves uniform, but I kind of settled on an arbitrary cut-off of two full seasons. To be completely honest, I chose this marker entirely so that I could include Stephon Marbury and didn’t have to include Jimmy Butler.
  • I tried to keep the roster construction as realistic as possible. It’s very rare for a team to carry more than three traditional bigs, and teams usually want three or four ball-handling guards. I tried to fill the rest with guys who could fit in a multitude of lineups.
  • I’m open to hearing where you’d have gone different. I’m so bored, let’s argue about these.

Without further ado...

Front court

Starters: Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Karl-Anthony Towns

Reserves: Nikola Pekovic

The actual selections themselves were pretty easy. Garnett, Towns, and Love are the three best players in Wolves history by a wide margin, and Pek had quite a run himself before injuries wrecked the late stages of his career. I’m not sure Pek would be able to stay on the floor in the modern NBA, but he was awesome during his time.

The real headache here was what to do with the starting lineup. I was hesitant to take advantage of KG’s athelticism and versatility and slide him to the wing, which would then give you an abundance of shooting with KAT and Love on the floor together. I also have little doubt that if KG had played in the modern NBA he’d have developed a more reliable three-point stroke.

My biggest worry was taking KG away from the paint defensively and having to rely on Towns and Love to defend the rim, which sounds like a nightmare. Ultimately, I decided that KG’s presence on the floor would help the rest of the team defense, especially Towns. Also, it feels like a waste to keep one of these guys on the bench. This team is going to be short on firepower elsewhere, so getting as many minutes of this trio became a priority. The shooting capability of Towns and Love make this a dream offensive scenario. Also, this group will absolutely HAMMER opponents on the glass.

As someone who has grown very fond of the modern NBA, we’re able to go huge up front while maintaining spacing. It’s a bit of a throwback, but all three guys are talented enough to make it work. They can rotate throughout the game to more traditional two-forward lineups, and then close together to put teams away.

Guards

Starter: Terrell Brandon

Reserves: Stephon Marbury, Ricky Rubio, Sam Cassell

This was the most difficult choice for where real talent was present, and I still don’t know how good I feel about it. I was initially set on Marbury as the starter, but I became really concerned about what the defense would look like with Towns and Love already in the starting five.

With concern about the defense, I immediately thought to Rubio next, but I didn’t want to sacrifice the shooting, and felt that Rubio might make more sense in non-KG lineups so that he’d have more freedom to be the playmaker. I could be completely overthinking this, but I didn’t want to take the ball out of KG’s hands that much, and I find the idea of running the offense through him in the middle of the floor as much as possible very appealing. He’d undoubtedly make a great pick-and-pop partner with Rubio, but so do Towns and Love.

I felt I could get a little bit of each of the positives of Rubio and Marbury by slotting Terrell Brandon in the starting lineup. During his time with Minnesota, Brandon was a solid shooter from deep whose volume would’ve surely increased in today’s game. He was also a strong facilitator who will bring instant on-court chemistry with Kevin Garnett. He’s also a strong defender.

Using Brandon as the starter with Marbury available for instant offense off the bench felt like the best of both worlds, with Rubio available as a defensive plug-in as the third guard. Sam Cassell is on the roster for depth purposes, and it’s entirely possible that the team could play two point guards together fairly often, given the lack of strong wing options. He did have one great season with Minnesota, but I’m not sure he really warrants minutes over any of the other three guys.

Getting Marbury to accept a role coming off the bench would be quite the task for the entire organization, but there’s nothing like a little drama to make the team more interesting.

Wings

Starter: Zach LaVine

Reserves: Andrew Wiggins, Wally Szcerbiak, Isaiah Rider

Yikes. Not a lot to choose from, especially with the stipulations put in place that kept Jimmy Butler off of this list.

I ultimately ended up going with LaVine as the starter because I wanted a wing scoring option that could create something out of nothing. Do I feel good about it? Nope, not at all.

I really didn’t know where to go here, honestly. I though about Wiggs for his potential as a secondary ball-handler, but I didn’t really think that gave him much of a leg up on LaVine. I considered Rider for many of the same reasons I like LaVine, but ultimately favored Zach. Wally was also considered for the starting spot for his steadiness, but I really just wanted a bit more scoring pop. With limited viable options, that’s really all it came down to.

I’m interested to hear where you guys would’ve gone here.

Spots 13-15

Trenton Hassell, Sam Mitchell, Gary Trent

I though about each of these guys for normal rotation spots, and on a real team they probably would have earned minutes for their defensive prowess, as well as what their presence would do for team chemistry.

At one point I had Hassell chosen as the starting wing, but couldn’t get myself to commit so strongly to defense on the wing at expense of offensive creativity. Maybe I’m secretly Gersson Rosas.

Nonetheless, these are guys I’d want on the roster, even if they don’t play a ton. There would be games where each of their services would be required, but against a standard opponent they might not see as many minutes.

Coach: Flip Saunders

I don’t think this really needs an explanation.

Overall Outlook

Guard: Brandon, Marbury, Rubio, Cassell

Wing: LaVine, Wiggins, Szcerbiak, Rider, Hassell

Frontcourt: Towns, Love, Garnett, Mitchell, Trent

Well, it’s a big starting lineup, and roster overall. Maybe we’d sacrifice one of Mitchell or Trent for someone like Latrell Spreewell? I don’t know, there’s just limited options for the wing, and Garnett is capable of taking bigger wings defensively while Towns and Love provide spacing offensively.

We’re going to put a lot of stress on Brandon at the point of attack and KG on the wing/interior defensively. I think the overall positives outweigh the negatives, though. In theory, when we do force a miss, we should have the best rebounding team the NBA has ever seen. It’s also worth noting what KG’s presence could do for KAT defensively. There’s potential for the defense to be better than expected.

We’ll struggle with bigger guards, since Brandon is pretty small, but KG should be able to hang with most bigger wings and Rubio is an option against the bigger guards. If the defense becomes impossibly bad, there are options on the bench to rectify that situation.

I think the roster gives us a lot of options for how we want to play, and that’s never a bad thing. We’re thin for good options on the wing, but I’m hoping LaVine’s strengths are magnified playing next to Garnett.

What would you guys have done differently? Who did I miss?