The Timberwolves bench might be good — or not


We all know what it’s like when the Timberwolves have a bad bench. Remember the 2013-14 season?

But last season, we were all very hopeful that the Minnesota Timberwolves would have a great second unit. The Wolves haven’t had a reliable bench in years, but the appearance of Mo Williams, Corey Brewer, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Gorgui Dieng coming off the bench made me hopeful.

Injuries occurred, of course, which forced some of the Wolves’ most important bench players to enter the starting lineup, and in turn, everything became a mess.

This off-season, the Wolves’ organization has added some important pieces to the starting lineup as well as the bench, which should help stabilize everything — pending a healthy team, of course. There was a lot of talent available on the Wolves’ bench last year and with the additions of Nemanja Bjelica, Tyus Jones, and Andre Miller, the Wolves’ bench could be very dangerous.

The whole Tyus Jones-Andre Miller situation could end up being challenging to the organization and confusing to the Timberwolves’ fan base. The fans will want to see Tyus, but in my opinion, Andre Miller will most likely be the first point guard off the bench to begin the season, and Tyus’ minutes will depend on the Timberwolves’ record at the all-star break. Jones doesn’t seem ready to make the impact that the fan base and the organization all hope he can make someday.

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I have been a huge supporter of the Nemanja Bjelica signing. Every team is looking for players who have the size of a power forward but the play-making abilities of a point guard.

A point-forward can space the floor and it also creates a lot of mismatches which can give your team a huge advantage. Recently, Bjelica has dominated for Serbia during FIBA play. Bjelica lead Serbia to a win against Spain, one of the best teams in international play, and then he helped his team beat the Dirk Nowitzki-led Germany team.

Let’s look at the likely second unit: Andre Miller, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica, Gorgui Dieng, and possibly Nikola Pekovic.

On paper, the second unit could be a top-ten bench next season. The projected bench has a veteran leader who’s also a nifty passer, it has some young and talented players that can run the fast break, it has the Euroleague MVP, and it has a player that should be able to anchor a defensive unit in Gorgui Dieng.

But because injuries seem to happen to the Wolves’ roster every year, we need to look at the players that could replace the second unit. Let’s project the backups to the backups because, well, it’s the Wolves: Tyus Jones, Tayshaun PrinceAdreian Payne, Anthony Bennett, and again, Nikola Pekovic to some extent.

If an injury does occur to the starting lineup or the second unit, the Wolves’ third unit has some players capable of stepping in and producing. Let’s cross our fingers just in case!

The Wolves’ bench could be good next season, but we must take into account past injury issues. Once might consider the bench to be the $1,000,000 lottery ticket. But don’t be surprised if it becomes the lost $1,000,000 lottery ticket.

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