Ranking current Minnesota Timberwolves players: #5-1


Aug 26, 2014; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins laughs with the fans at Minnesota State Fair. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the final rankings of the 2014-15 Minnesota Timberwolves players.

Preseason games don’t start until the beginning of October, these September free agency signings are nowhere near the magnitude of those in July and August, and the confetti from the U.S.A.’s FIBA World Cup championship has been swept away into the garbage.

To me, it’s comparable with that point near the end of summer break where you’re finished with camp or a summer job but it’s still too early to return to school.

What do you do for that awkward one to two week period? Back to school shopping? Ok, that takes, what, a couple of hours? It’s certainly a confusing portion of any teen’s summer vacation.

While we wait for the Timberwolves’ first “they matter but don’t really matter” contest against the Pacers on Oct. 7, let’s continue on with what seems to be a popular trend among analysts lately – RANKING.

All the cool groups are doing it. Whether it be player rankings, team rankings, or some other variety, ESPN, FanSided, and many other media outlets are joining in on the action.

With the annual ESPN #nbarank countdown now past the halfway mark, what better time for us to conclude the ranking of players on the current Minnesota Timberwolves roster? This is a reminder that I am basing these rankings primarily on what I expect the player to contribute to the team during the 2014-2015 season.

Here’s quick recap of where we’re at in the countdown.

15. Glenn Robinson III

14. Robbie Hummel

13. Ronny Turiaf

12. Chase Budinger

11. Shabazz Muhammad

10. Zach LaVine

9. Mo Williams

8. Corey Brewer

7. Anthony Bennett

6. Kevin Martin

*For this list, I have excluded Jose Barea

5. Gorgui Dieng

Entering his second NBA season out of Louisville, Dieng could very well get a decent amount of starts this year, whether it be at center or power forward.

With injuries plaguing a portion of Nikola Pekovic‘s (analysis coming below) 2013-2014 campaign, Dieng stepped in for 15 extremely impressive starts last year. The 24-year-old from Senegal will probably be the first or second man off the bench, and provides excellent rebounding, high energy, and a tremendous knack for blocking shots.

In 60 games last year, Dieng averaged just 13.6 minutes per game. In the limited playing time, he still managed to post five rebounds per game (including 1.7 on the offensive end), 0.8 blocks per contest, and hey, he even shot 100 percent from downtown (1 for 1)!

I expect the March 2014 NBA Rookie of the Month award recipient to see a big increase in court action this season, and push Pekovic for playing time. Could Dieng’s play ultimately lead to Pek’s departure from Minnesota?

4. Ricky Rubio

Alright, ranking the final four was a very difficult task, and the order of the remaining players in my opinion, could be very interchangeable throughout the season.

I placed Rubio at number four primarily because his overall game is still very much a work in progress and needs a decent amount of fine-tuning. The good news is, at 23 years old, Rubio still has time to improve his shooting, leadership, and ability to consistently score or get fouled when driving to the basket.

Just three seasons into his career, Rubio is amazingly one of the longer tenured T-Wolves now and will be relied upon to help lead the youth movement.

You know that the assists, steals, and “how did he just do that?” dish-offs to teammates will be there. The question is not only can Rubio learn how to shoot, but is he ready to be a leader?

Here’s hoping that Williams’ veteran leadership can rub off on the Spaniard, and that this new shooting coach can help just a bit.

Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) drives in against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

3. Andrew Wiggins

Unfortunately for Mr. Wiggins, he won’t be making his first appearance in an NBA game as the number-one player on this DWW countdown. If he lives up to the hype and mountainous expectations though, the 2015 rankings will likely be a different story.

What else is there to say about Wiggins that hasn’t already been said? Most of us know that the number one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft was selected by Cleveland, and the following two months were nothing short of a whirlwind of trade rumors, interviews, and uncertainty surrounding the highly touted player.

It has yet to be decided who will be starting at the small forward position come Oct. 29 in Memphis, when the Wolves kick off this sure to be intriguing season, but Wiggins is almost a sure bet to make his way into the starting rotation well ahead of the winter holiday season.

Making predictions for NBA veterans, let alone teenagers who have never faced the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, is a process just waiting to be criticized and disagreed upon. Well, here goes nothing with my Wiggins’ 2014-2015 season stat line forecast.

78 GP, 74 GS, 33.8 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 41% FG, 30% 3P, 80% FT

2. Thaddeus Young

Wiggins, LaVine, and Bennett probably garnered most of the excitement by way of the #EyesOnTheRise trend from a few weeks ago. What’s not to like about this fresh, young, talented trio (all of whom by the way are younger than me)?

Well, the off-season acquisition made by the Wolves that should make the most immediate positive impact I believe is that of Young. No, he’s not going to produce double-double’s every other game like Kevin Love, and he may not even be the leading scorer this season.

But Thad – a 2007 first round draft pick – will soon win the hearts of Minnesota fans with his court play as one of the more underrated front court players in the league. Don’t expect the former 76er to follow in the footsteps of Love and Kevin Garnett as the star big man at the four position, but  a quiet, consistent leadership should be counted on for Young.

Let the young-er guys produce the highlight reel, rim-rattling dunks for this year’s Wolves. Thad is a quickly improving player who scored a career high 17.9 points per game last year for a pitiful team. I wouldn’t be surprised if that number increases slightly again, and a few years down the road, this Tennessee native is the starting power forward for a playoff team at the Target Center.

Aug 26, 2014; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Thaddeus Young smiles for the crowd of fans at the Minnesota State Fair. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports


1. Nikola Pekovic

If Pek stays healthy, he is clearly deserving of the number-one ranking on this countdown.

Yeah, yeah strongest guy in the league, great rebounder, good back-to-the-basket player, so what?

Even with his injury issues in the second half of last season, Pekovic was still the most effective and productive player on the whole roster not named Kevin Love. .541% FG, .747% FT, 8.7 RPG, 17.5 PPG – most of Pek’s numbers rank right up there with the NBA centers who are generally considered elite. His scoring and rebounding figures have been on the rise each and every season of his career, other than his miniscule .1 rebounds per game drop in 2013-2014.

Some may think that with the emergence of Dieng, Pekovic’s playing time could be cut this season. While I don’t disagree with that notion, I feel that this could benefit the Serbian in a way. Slightly fewer minutes could mean fresher legs, less fatigue, and more instances of domination from Pek’ down low in crunch time.

I’m expecting the continued improvement from number 14 this season, and the continued rise from him into the upper echelon of the best NBA centers.


(courtesy of basketball-reference.com)

I’m sure there are bound to be plenty of disagreements with my top-five list, or maybe you’re still fuming that Budinger didn’t crack the top 10.

Feel free to comment below and stay posted to DWW for analysis and upcoming team previews from around the entire NBA!