The Timberwolves have continued to make small off-season moves, but questions still remain, including what the team’s plan is with the power forward position.
The signings of Cole Aldrich and Jordan Hill have solidified the Wolves rotation of bigs. Both of these new players primarily find themselves at the center position, allowing other Wolves players to suit-up at the power forward spot, where they could be most effective.
The four players who could start at power forward are Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Kevin Garnett and Nemanja Bjelica. Let’s take a look at the roles each of these players have and where they would operate best for the Timberwolves.
During Towns’ rookie year, he spent 98 percent of his time at the center position. There seems to be little reason to have him change positions on a permanent basis, but as I see it, playing Karl-Anthony at the as a stretch-four could be extremely useful in spurts because of his shooting ability. To be clear, it is not a long-term solution to the position, but rather a change of pace during games.
Gorgui Dieng split his time between power forward and center in 2015-16. While Dieng’s most common shot came was within three feet of the basket, he also took a fair amount of mid-range jumpers. At the rim, Dieng shot 71 percent. Meanwhile, he only converted 43.4 percent of jumpers from beyond 16 feet but inside the arc. That was an improvement on a mark of 30.9 percent form that range the year prior.
More from Dunking with Wolves
- The dream starting 5 for Minnesota Timberwolves 5 years from now
- Anthony Edwards’ latest accolade is a great sign of things to come
- In an OT thriller, Team Canada snatches Bronze from Team USA
- Timberwolves start, bench, cut: Mike Conley, Shake Milton, Jordan McLaughlin
- Which Timberwolves roster additions have upgraded the bench?
Additionally, Dieng followed-up his league-high 56.9 percent shooting mark from 10-16 feet in 2014-15 with a solid 46.2 percent showing in 2015-16.
It’s very evident to me that unless Gorgui improves his longer mid-range shot, he remains most effective around the paint at the center position. Now, Gorgui and Karl could be on the floor together with Gorgui at center and Karl playing a stretch-four. Or, Gorgui could come off the bench behind Karl.
This brings us to Kevin Garnett. While it has yet to be determined whether or not Kevin will play, I’d like to look at what KG can do for this team if he is on the roster. Traditional statistics will tell you that a 40 year-old power forward with knee problems should be at home on his couch; last year in 38 games he averaged 3.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest.
But if we delve a little deeper we see Garnett’s impact on the defensive end: in just 14.5 minutes per game, Garnett posted a +2.5 defensive rating and a +5.6 overall rating, proving his impact in limited playing time.
Nemanja Bjelica is the player I am most interested in. Going into last year, a lot of fans had high expectations for the reigning Euroleague MVP. While his first season in a Wolves uniform was a disappointment, he did show flashes of promise.
It’s easy to see how good Bjelica can be at the NBA level. If you pay close attention to his movement off the ball and his court vision, you can see he has a very high basketball I.Q. Pair these things with his shooting and you have an excellent stretch-four.
Bjelica’s problems last year largely stemmed from first a knee and then a foot injury and what seemed to be confidence issues after returning from his injuries.
Staying healthy is the key to Bjelica’s season. If he does, I would propose that he should start at power forward for the Timberwolves come opening night.