Wolves’ Veteran Leadership: Valuable or Overrated?


Flip Saunders clearly spent his summer looking for players who have leadership and years of experience. Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller, and Tayshaun Prince signed with the Wolves this off-season. Combined, they have 49 years of experience in the NBA.

I have always struggled to understand exactly how valuable leadership and veteran experience is to a team. It’s probably because it sounds so cliche. It’s also because leadership and experience is difficult to examine and quantify.

I believe that leadership is a desired skill of many, but I have a tough time believing that leadership is a talent. Leadership can help mold talent, like Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine, but it isn’t going to help you put the ball in the basket. Therefore, I’ve always thought of leadership as overrated, but then again it does seem like all good teams have players that have those desirable skills. That’s why I struggle with my own opinion.

To name a couple: the Spurs have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The Warriors have Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, and Stephen Curry.

But just because those teams listed above have great leaders isn’t the only reason why their teams are successful. The teams listed above are successful because their leaders are players who see high amounts of playing time.

Do the Wolves think that just because they signed Tayshaun Prince and he might play five minutes a night that might make the difference between winning 25 games and winning 43 games?

Feb 22, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince (22) warms up before the game against the Washington Wizards at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Just because Andre Miller tells his teammates, “that’s a good look, shoot with confidence”…is that going to make the difference between getting the #8 seed and being a lottery team?

Absolutely not, and that’s why I struggle with it.

Leadership can change the locker room in terms of intensity. Leadership can teach. It can help players’ understand the game and see different parts of the game they didn’t see before. Leadership can help young players become leaders when they are ready. But in order for leadership to have it’s full effect on a team, the leaders must be players who are stars, or at least players who see significant time.

If you are a star player (like Kevin Love was in Minnesota and continues to be in Cleveland), you will receive harsh criticism if you are not a leader. Case in point: Kevin Love in Minnesota.

Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince will have an effect on the team in terms of leadership, but perhaps, not as much as you think. Considering Kevin Garnett, and Tayshaun Prince have traditionally been great defensive players, here’s hoping that rubs off on the rest of the team because the Wolves have been one of the worst defensive teams for the past four seasons.

If the Timberwolves get off to a hot start at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the three veterans will receive a lot of praise for their leadership, but what if the Timberwolves’ start the season with a 5-14 mark? Does that mean that their leadership disappeared?

I am not trying to bash the three veteran players that Minnesota signed, because I do believe that their leadership and experience will help our young team, but I just don’t think it’s as valuable as everyone proclaims it to be.

The best chance for the Timberwolves’ to make the playoffs will be when Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns are the leaders of this team. And that will come in time, when they are eventually the best players on the roster.

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