Minnesota Timberwolves 2016-17 record: 31-51 (13th in the West)
Additions: Justin Patton (Trade), Jimmy Butler (Trade), Shabazz Muhammad (re-signed), Jeff Teauge (Free Agency), Taj Gibson (Free Agency), Jamal Crawford (Free Agency), Anthony Brown (Free Agency- Two way contract), Marcus Georges-Hunt (Free Agency)
Subtractions: Kriss Dunn (Trade), Zach LaVine (Trade), Lauri Markkanen (Trade), Ricky Rubio (Trade), Nikola Pekovic (Free Agency), Jordan Hill (Free Agency), Omri Cassipi (Free Agency), Adreian Payne (Free Agency)
Minnesota hold the NBA record for the longest playoff drought. They have not been to the playoffs since the 2003-04 season. That’s 13 seasons without having any post-season action. In fact they only made it to the playoffs 8 times in 28 seasons. The changes to the roster signal the intention of the franchise to break this record.
The Timberwolves shocked the NBA community on the draft day. Giving up their 7th pick of the 2017 draft, along with Zach LaVine and Kriss Dunn, Minnesota acquired the 16th pick and Jimmy Butler. Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league and came off a career best season. Last season he showcased his all-round play, averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists. From free agency, they signed Jeff Teague to replace Rubio. He represents a more scoring and not pass first point guard. The additions of Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford add playoff experience into this young team. Gibson has worked with Thibodeau before. Crawford is a three time sixth man of the year and a good 3-point shooter.
The loss of Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine would be hard on this team. LaVine and Rubio formed and effective backcourt. Both had career best seasons and established successful relationships with the team. Last season, the Timberwolves were the worst 3-point shooting team in the league. Butler, Teague are average 3-point shooters at best. Crawford, while a renowned long range shooter, has seen his accuracy from long range wane in recent years.
The Timberwolves have made a shaken the core of their roster, for the better. While losing some of their younger players and a pass-first point guard in Rubio, the fire-power added more than compensates. Gibson and Crawford can add around 20-25 points off the bench. Their starting line-up will see 3 players capable of averaging around 25 points a game. Both Butler and Teague can provide adequate playmaking for each other, Wiggins and Towns. The veteran additions would help Wiggins and Towns develop their own play. Towns is already a career 20 point-10 rebound a game player. Butler and Gibson will add much needed defensive grit for the team. For a defensive minded coach in Tom Thibodeau, this works for his tactics. The Timberwolves should be a better 3-point shooting team this year as well.
The Timberwolves are not a team that’s well acquainted with the playoffs. This will change this season. Even in a highly competitive Western Conference, a playoff spot should be on the cards for this team.
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