Minnesota Timberwolves 2015 Position Outlook: Point Guard


This is the first piece in a series of five articles that will analyze each position for the Timberwolves heading into the 2015 season. Today we take a look at the point guard position.

So far, the 2015 off-season for the Minnesota Timberwolves has been dominated by the NBA Draft. Of course, the Wolves won the NBA Draft Lottery and were awarded the first-overall pick, which they used on Karl-Anthony Towns, so the draft seems to be a solid focus.

Besides the NBA Draft, one position that has garnered a lot of attention around the Timberwolves is point guard. Much of this is due to useless rumors that suggest Ricky Rubio may be traded this offseason. Additionally, the Wolves traded for Tyus Jones on NBA Draft night. Between Rubio and Jones, the media has been paying close attention to the point guard situation in Minnesota.

I’ve written before about the high expectations I have for Rubio in the 2015-16 season. First of all, it’s not difficult to understand that the Wolves are a much better team with Rubio on the court. Notably, the Wolves were able to compete with the better teams in the NBA in the games Rubio was healthy.

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Additionally, Rubio will finally have a respectable group of players around him. Outside of Kevin Love and maybe Nikola Pekovic, Rubio has never really had much for weapons around him in his tenure in Minnesota. Starting next season, he’ll have some serious young talent around him that includes Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and even Gorgui Dieng. Also, let’s not forget about what Kevin Martin can do offensively as well.

If these weapons can stay somewhat healthy for Rubio this season, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t improve his game. Having this kind of talent at the wing positions is ideal for a pass-first point like Rubio. Yes, Rubio still does need to improve his scoring and shooting. However, he has shown improvement throughout his career (yes, small improvement) and this could be the season that he can flirt with the 40% field goal shooting mark.

Overall, if Rubio stays healthy, I expect him to play roughly 30-35 minutes per game for the Wolves and being the effective “quarterback” for the Wolves offense.

Rubio’s slated backup point guard this season is Tyus Jones, the rookie out of Duke. Jones, in my eyes, is an excellent candidate to be the backup point guard for Rubio. Jones doesn’t have spectacular athleticism, but his basketball IQ, shooting ability, and high efficiency in the pick-and-roll game offensively suggest that he’ll manage just fine in the NBA.

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  • Defensively, Jones might be a liability right away. Despite his 6-foot-5 wingspan, Jones’ lack of athleticism may hurt him in the NBA when he’s matched up with an athletic player from the opposing team.

    I expect Jones to play basically any minutes that Rubio doesn’t play at the point, which should be roughly 15 minutes per game. In all likelihood, he’ll start the season by playing with LaVine, Muhammad, and Dieng — a solid group of talent to have around Jones. Moreover, I’m eager to see howJones runs that pick-and-roll offense with guys like Towns, Kevin Garnett, or even Adreian Payne.

    As for the third point guard, it seems likely that head coach Flip Saunders will look to LaVine if he’s needed. LaVine played nearly 90% of his minutes at the point guard position last season (much of that due to the Rubio injury). While LaVine is naturally a shooting guard, his experience playing the point last season should be enough to make him the third point guard over Lorenzo Brown or any other free agent or trade option (such as Luke Ridnour, who’s been traded about 14 times in the past week).

    I don’t expect LaVine to play much at point guard this season (barring injury — knock on wood). Therefore, I find it doubtful that Saunders keeps Brown or attempts to find another veteran player in free agency or via trade. While some experience at the position would be useful, Rubio is entering his fifth NBA season so it’s not like he’s a raw prospect, either.

    Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the point guard position on the Wolves roster. I still firmly believe that Rubio can be the point guard of the future for the Wolves (I’m not sure if that’s a thing, but I know quarterback of the future is a thing in football, so I went with it) and I think he’ll have a solid bounce back season in 2015-16 with all this talent around him. Also, I really like the fit of Tyus Jones as his backup and what he could bring to the Wolves off the bench.

    Continue to check in with DWW for updates on the Wolves and for the next piece in the series that will look at the shooting guard position.

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