Are the Timberwolves on the Right Track?

(Bleacher Report)

Jimmy Butler is now part of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Wolves practically stole Butler from the Bulls by only giving up Zach Lavine (who tore his ACL) and Kris Dunn (who struggled mightily during his rookie season) and a 2017 draft pick for the three-time All-Star.

Does this mean that the Wolves will finally make the playoffs after 14 seasons? Maybe. Maybe not.

Even though the Wolves will probably be significantly better than they were last year with Jimmy Butler, there are still questions and concerns about this team going forward into the next season and the future.

  1. Who is the franchise player?

With the acquisition of Butler, it may seem like the Wolves are in a win-now situation. They got someone in his prime who is hungry for a championship run instead of waiting for players to develop. However, Minnesota also has Karl-Anthony Towns who, at only 21 years old, is already a supremely talented and gifted offensive player that still has room to develop.

So who is going to defer to who? Will Butler accept having less touches and possessions in a game if it means developing Karl-Anthony Towns? Or will Minnesota have to stall the development of Towns so that they can fully maximize Jimmy Butler?

2. Roster construction

Another concern with Minnesota’s nucleus of Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins is that for them to be able to maximize their skillset, they have to have the ball in their hands. It’s also concerning that Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler have a similar playing style that relies on isolations and midrange jumpers.

However, what can work with playing with those types of players is to have an unselfish point guard who doesn’t shoot a lot which perfectly fit the job description of Ricky Rubio (who averages 8.5 assists in his career). It finally looked like they got the best players to fully maximize Rubio’s unselfishness but they traded him away. The Timberwolves then acquired Jeff Teague who does not seem like a great fit for the team because he has more of a scorer’s mentality compared to Rubio and averages only 5.5 assists in his career.

3. Offensive concerns

In this era of NBA basketball, spacing and shooting has become the recipe for success for most teams in the league. With the way the Wolves roster looks now, it seems that they are going to have trouble contending in the Western Conference.

Their core players (Butler, Towns, Wiggins, Teague) are not known for their three-point shooting ability which means that defenses can help off of them and create double teams which causes less space to operate on the court which is troubling for Towns, because this could lead to a lot of double teams on the post and Butler, because he relies mostly on isolation possessions.

So, it looks like this year’s Wolves will probably be a lot better than last year’s team by a significant margin and they might finally make the playoffs again. However, trying to look at this team in the long-term, do they look like they on the right track to build sustainable success for the future? Only time will tell.

Originally published at on July 11, 2017.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store