What do you want? Or what do the Wolves need to compete? All signs point to the Wolves making deals involving players and draft picks, but what do the Minnesota Timberwolves need to get in return to take the next step in the rebuilding process?
Minnesota has a lot of growing players with a solid foundation, but are not yet at their career peak. The Wolves have a roster with an average age of 24.8 years-old, while the top ten minutes guys average only 2.8 years in the league.
And this poses an interesting question. At this point in the rebuilding process, do you take experience over talent? The answer is easy – Talent!
Let’s take a look at the Wolves and their needs as to the type of player they need to either draft of sign in free agency. I am not going to look at specific players, but rather the tools that make the “type” that is needed.
Defensive Post Presence
Let’s be clear. The Wolves lack a strong defensive player over 6’7”. Al Jefferson is a very good post scorer and at time is unstoppable, and Kevin Love has a skill-set that we don’t see to often in a “big-man”. But the Wolves don’t have a player who can intimidate, make opponents second guess when driving down the lane or affect shots by just “being there”.
Jefferon and Milicic both average a little over a single block a game. And other then Ryan Hollins, who averages half-a-block a game, there is not another player who averages more then Kevin Love, at .38 blocks a game.
Here are some key team defensive categories.
Field Goal Percentage
- MN 45%
- OPP 48%
- MN 34%
- OPP 37%
*Stats from ESPN.com.
The numbers don’t tell the whole story. The paint never feels protected or impenetrable, and in match-ups against athletic big-man, it is hard for Jefferson or Love to hold there own. Now Hollins is very athletic, but he is not a player who is going to bang and get in a players face. I am not sure what I make of Milicic who seems to give more effort on the offensive end than the defensive, but I will play the “I have not seen enough of him to make a confident statement” card now.
What The Wolves Need: 6’10” – 7’0” player who is not afraid to take or deliver a hit. Will never have a play called for him, but finds away to average 8ppg, 12rpg, and 2 or more blocks a game. Think a stronger Tyson Chandler from 2004-09.
*Disclaimer: Now, we can all point to LeBron James and say “we need him” – which is true – but is completely unrealistic. We are talking about pieces of the puzzle – see Timberwolve’s advertisement – that can actually be put together. So while I would love Dwight Howard to a Wolf, it is never happening.
Scoring Guard Over 6’4”
Randy Foye, Rashad McCants , and Wayne Ellington.
Ellington should end-up as the most productive of the three – but it is very tough to compete in this league with a starting shooting guard who is not over 6’4”, not a light-out shooter or a slasher.
*Right now the Wolves have Corey Brewer at the shooting guard spot, but I am not convinced.
Foye was forced to play point and McCants…well, he is stupid – but both were put in tough situations with expectations that were too high. That said, he have not had a legit scorer 6’5” or taller since Latrell Sprewell and Wally Szczerbiak.
What The Wolves Need: Morris Peterson 2001-06. In that in Toronto, Peterson averaged 12.5ppg, 3.9rpg, and shot 42% from the field and 37% from behind the arc. Or Richard Hamilton.
Consistent Outside Threat
With a very good low-post scorer in Jefferson, teams must send the double team. But with an good outside shooter, opponents would not run a second man over to the post so quickly .
Here are the teams five best outside shooters.
- Ellington 39.5%
- Ryan Gomes 37.2%
- Jonny Flynn 35.8%
- Corey Brewer 34.6%
- Love 33.2%
Only Ellington would be considered a true “shooter”, but he only shoots 2.1 three-point shots a game. While Brewer, Flynn and Gomes shoot 2.9, 2.7, and 2.6 respectively, three-pointers a game.
What The Wolves Need: Daniel Gibson. Gibson has averaged 42.3% from deep since he entered the the league. And his nick-name is Boobie.
The Sixth Man
Energy. Scoring. Toughness.
Minnesota has never had a game changing sixth-man. A player that comes off the bench and take advantage of the opponents second team with his energy and ability to score.
McCants had the skills – minus the hustle – but he couldn’t buy into the idea of coming off the bench and being “The Microwave”.
If you don’t know who that is, I am ashamed for you. Vince Johnson, was the ideal energy-scorer for the Detroit Pistons during their deep runs in the Eastern Conference playoffs and back-to-back championships in 89 and 90.
Most championship teams had a player who came off the bench and changed the game. It doesn’t have to be a guard, but it needs to a player that can score and the crowd loves. Manu Ginobili did it for the Spurs, Kevin McHale and Bill Walton did it for the 80′s Celtics, Toni Kukoc did it in Chicago, and Derek Fischer and Robert Horry were it during the Shaq and Kobe area.
What The Wolves Need: Bobby Jackson in Sacramento from 2001-05.
Now that is a lot. But there are players on this roster, in the draft and free agents who could fit these roles.
Expect the Wolves to directly add players via the draft or free agency to fill the void in the post and be a 6’7” scorer from Ohio State. Too specific? Maybe. But I don’t expect the team to spend a ton of money in the off-season on players as there is talent on the current roster that can fill the other roles.