Wolves Lead

5 Questions Ahead of Minnesota’s Season

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The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to have a fresh start after a chaotic season last year. The franchise is under new leaders with president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and head coach Ryan Saunders. Before this new season begins, Wolves Lead writers have gotten together to answer five important questions for the Timberwolvers entering this season.

1. What type of an impact will rookie Jarrett Culver make?

Ethan Fuller

Culver should be an impact rookie in a smaller role this season. He may struggle with shooting consistency like he did at Texas Tech, but I expect Culver’s switching on defense to be valuable as he learns from Josh Okogie. Most importantly, Culver’s ability as a primary ball handler will be an important skill to watch. Hopefully he can run the bench unit in spurts while Minnesota prepares to depart with Jeff Teague.

Kevyn Drago

He won’t be. I don’t want to be negative because this was a great pick. But he’s behind Okogie another growing player and very unlikely he will get the minutes and touches to make large impacts on the game.

Lucas Johnson

It’s doubtful that Culver will make one of the All-Rookie teams, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t have an impact. Defensively, there’s a strong chance he will be one of the better defenders on the roster. Along the lines of Josh Okogie and Robert Covington, he has the potential to be the team’s third best perimeter defender on the roster this season. Offensively, Culver could need a season or two before he becomes a reliable option on offense.

2. Who will start at power forward?

Fuller

If Gersson Rosas is really influenced by his time in Houston, he should value a stretch power forward. Robert Covington may not have a wide build, but he’s an otherworldly defender and capable shooter who can matchup with almost anyone. He should be a starter and would be best served offensively as a four. Jordan Bell is too inconsistent and Noah Vonleh is too slow; they’d be better served as bench sparks.

Drago

Robert Covington is probably has the best chance to start. His versatility can help him cover Andrew Wiggins lack of defensive effort. Also with so many teams playing small ball RoCo is not gonna often have a size disadvantage and can probably play defense against some of these smaller centers.

Johnson

I’ve already written on this subject in the past, it appears that Covington has the best shot out the job. However, Vonleh could have a shot at the job as well. Covington is more of a stretch option, where as Vonleh is more of a tradition power forward that has some 3-point shooting ability. Either is a good choice, though it looks like Covington will be the favorite heading into the season.

3. Will the Timberwolves make any big trades this year?

Fuller

Unless Andrew Wiggins continues to struggle and is dealt, I don’t think Minnesota has enough intriguing pieces to headline a “big” trade. Karl-Anthony Towns is their franchise cornerstone and Jarrett Culver is a valuable rookie, so both should be long-term Timberwolves. Of the rostered players, I see Gorgui Dieng as the most probable trade candidate, and he would only be dealt in a smaller deal to dump salary.

Drago

The biggest trade the Timberwolves could make would be shipping off Wiggins and that contract. I don’t know what they’d have to take back in bad contracts or what they’d have to attach to get a team to take him, but the Wiggins experiment is in year 6 and its looking like a failed attempt.

Johnson

There’s a chance. Players like Teague and Dieng seem like potential trade candidates for this season. There’s an outside chance that Wiggins could be as well, but that’s only if the T-Wolves can acquire a great young prospect or an elite veteran. They could make a small trade or two, but it’s doubtful they make a big move.

4. Can Andrew Wiggins finally become the secondary star that Minnesota needs?

Fuller

I’m surprisingly confident in Andrew Wiggins making strides this season. He finally has some continuity with a head coach and he can put the struggles with Jimmy Butler in the past. The Wolves should use Wiggins as a lead scorer simply because they lack other options. If he can even get back to league-average three point shooting, along with continued improvement in the passing game, Wiggins could fill a major need as a point forward of sorts.

Drago

No. I’ve given up. He broke me.

Johnson

Of course there’s a chance he turns around; I’ve written about it before. It’s not going to be easy for him to do, but it’s definitely possible. If he does then it could help the T-Wolves contend for a playoff spot, which obviously a great thing.

5. What will be the Timberwolves’ record and will they make the playoffs?

Fuller

A realistically optimistic scenario involves Andrew Wiggins leveling out, Jarrett Culver blending in seamlessly and Robert Covington staying healthy. If those all hold true, Minnesota should benefit from a deeper rotation of bigs and wings. I could see the Wolves hovering around the 40-win mark. This still leaves them a bit short of the playoffs in a brutal Western Conference. The only way this team makes the postseason is if Wiggins crushes the doubters and taps into his ceiling.

Drago

37-45. I think it will be another season of mediocrity. Jeff Teague is an average starter, Okogie looks like a solid future player, Wiggins will win some and lose some games by himself, RoCo is a solid player, and Towns is amazing. Maybe Culver will be a breakout star, but it will probably take a few years.

Johnson

If Wiggins turns it around and health prevails, then there’s a real chance that Minnesota has a record of 41-41. While that’s an improvement from last season, it probably won’t help them make the playoffs. The Western Conference is just too loaded this season for the T-Wolves to make the playoffs with a 41-41 record.

 

That finishes up our preseason prediction of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Agree or disagree? Comment your opinions below.

Follow us on Twitter @WolvesLead for the latest Timberwolves news and insight.

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About Lucas Johnson

Regent University graduate with a B.A. in History. Married to the most wonderful woman in the world. Past writing experience includes The Sixer Sense, PopGates and Rotoden, while also being former Co-Site Expert for Valley of the Suns. Current Minnesota Timberwolves Lead for The Lead Sports Media and Co-Site Expert for The Sixer Sense.

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