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2018 Offseason Team Needs/Roster Breakdown: Minnesota Timberwolves

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For the first time since 2004, the Timberwolves made the playoffs, and Jimmy Butler is a big reason for that. He reunited with his former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau after being traded to Minnesota last offseason. The trio of Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins was supposed to make Minnesota a competitive force in a tough Western Conference, and they did — to an extent.

When Butler was out with a torn meniscus, the Timberwolves dropped to the eighth spot in the West and barely made the playoffs. They still made the playoffs but will need to fill their roster with guys who can complement that core in order to put themselves over the top and become a contender.

Timberwolves’ Needs/Position Breakdown

1: POINT GUARD

Minnesota has a solid veteran in Jeff Teague and a young — albeit underutilized — guard with potential in Tyus Jones, so it already has good options on their roster. But another backup would be nice. The Timberwolves also had Aaron Brooks — who’ll be a free agent — on their roster last season but was used sparingly, so coming back would be a surprise. What wouldn’t be surprising, though, is if Minnesota re-signed Derrick Rose after his brief stint there.

Rose joined the team after being traded at the deadline from the Cavaliers to the Jazz only to be waived. The Timberwolves then signed him, and he was a key member of their short playoff run. Per the Pioneer Press, Rose has expressed his interest in returning to Minnesota, and head coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose on the Chicago Bulls, is a fan of how he played on the T-Wolves.

2: SHOOTING GUARD

With Jamal Crawford recently declining his player option, Jimmy Butler is all the Timberwolves have at the two guard. It’s possible Crawford could come back but not probable. As such, Minnesota could target Marco Belinelli in free agency to help fill this hole. He’s an experienced veteran who shoots well, and the Timberwolves need help with their 3-point shooting — they shot 35.7 percent as a team over the course of the 2017-18 regular season. Belinelli also played for Thibodeau during the 2012-13 season, so there’s already a sense of familiarity there.

Draft wise, Minnesota could pick up Khyri Thomas, a shooting guard out of Creighton. Thomas is a bit small for an NBA shooting guard at 6-foot-3, but he defends well and has a 6-foot-10 wingspan. He was even named Big East Defensive Player of the Year the past two years. Thibodeau doesn’t typically give rookies playing time, but considering the Timberwolves haven’t been a good defensive team as is expected for Thibodeau-coached teams, Thomas could find minutes.

3: SMALL FORWARD

The Timberwolves also have a hole to fill here with only Andrew Wiggins at this position. But a recent report from Sporting News said Butler is hesitant about continuing to play alongside Wiggins, which further fuels trade talks concerning him. Trading Wiggins, though, will likely be difficult given his new contract starting this upcoming season. So whether that happens remains questionable. Regardless, Minnesota needs more small forwards.

Trevor Ariza is an attractive pick who offers shooting and defense. He’s also experienced, which is always favorable when playing for Thibodeau. Mario Hezonja is another option in free agency; an unrestricted free agent, Hezonja is just 23, so he has time to grow as a player. He also has an improved 3-point shot and averaged 9.6 points on 44.2 percent shooting in 22.1 minutes last season.

4: POWER FORWARD

With Taj Gibson and the tremendous job he did for the Timberwolves last year, they just need to worry about finding a backup for him. Gorgui Dieng can play at this position but, last season, lost the starting role to Gibson and was the primary backup center. Nemanja Bjelica, who’ll be a restricted free agent, did a good job of backing Gibson up last season. Bjelica averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 41.5 percent on 3-pointers. So Minnesota will likely have to spend a lot of money to match any offers he receives if it wants to keep him.

If Bjelica doesn’t work out, Luc Mbah a Moute would be a good 3-and-D guy to have who can also play small forward. Ersan Ilyasova is another player to consider, as he would space the floor well.

5: CENTER

Unlike the wing positions, Minnesota is crowded at center, so it doesn’t need to make additions. If anything, the Timberwolves could look to move one of them. Aside from Karl-Anthony Towns, they have Cole Aldrich, Dieng and Justin Patton. Aldrich would be a good candidate for a trade given he’s going into the final year of his contract.

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