What are NBA scouts saying about the Timberwolves?

Oct 16, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts to a call in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts to a call in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated’s fantastic new NBA site, The Crossover, we have a smattering of quotes from current NBA scouts regarding the new-look Timberwolves.

First off, please be sure to check out The Crossover, a brand-new, NBA-centric site through the good folks over at Sports Illustrated. It’s going to be a top bookmark for yours truly throughout the fall and winter months, that’s for sure.

Secondly, thanks to this new endeavor, we have some outside opinions of the Timberwolves roster from real, live NBA scouts.

We’ll go through the excerpt chunk-by-chunk so we can appropriately break down the various statements and dissect them accordingly.

And we’re off…

"“Best-case: They have Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and they fight for the eighth seed. Worst-case: Their lack of depth bites them and they’re still a year away from the big jump. Still, I don’t see them finishing worse than 11th in the West."

I’ll buy the potential for Coach of the Year, obviously. And Rookie of the Year is on the table mostly because the Wolves have a better roster around Kris Dunn than many of the other talented rookies in this class. I’m skeptical because I’m not sure Dunn will be very good, at least not early, but he should get enough opportunity and have enough help that he’ll be in the conversation.

As for the team’s performance? Best-case fighting for the #8 seed seems…low. Do I think they’ll finish higher than eighth? No, but best-case probably looks more like a #6 seed. Splitting hairs, maybe, but best-case is, well, exactly that.

The depth that the roster has certainly isn’t playoff-level depth, but it’s much, much better than it has been in years. Not that that’s saying much, of course.

"…Thibodeau has great taste in young talent and he found an organization that can really benefit from his style and experience. He will try to turn Wiggins into guys like Deng and Butler, and he can make Towns into Noah with better offense. That’s his formula and he’s got the pieces to do it. … Towns will be a top 10 player at the end of this season. He will be right there in both All-Star and All-NBA talk. I’ll take him over Anthony Davis right now and Kevin Love at his peak with the Timberwolves. … Towns is the total package offensively. Limitless ceiling. He can score without being selfish, you can move him around all over the court, great touch for a big guy. Defensively, he needs to make progress with his strength, awareness and timing. All of that stuff will come."

Agreed on Thibs…of course the Wolves are a great situation for any coach, given the talent on this roster.

As for turning Wiggins “into guys like [Luol] Deng and [Jimmy] Butler”…Deng and Butler are different players, so that’s kind of an odd comment. Wiggins should probably be a better, fully-realized version of Butler, but he’s not close as of now. Leaps need to be made on defense, and the offensive game must be more consistent.

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Towns as Noah with better offense…sure, but with much, much better offense. Like better shooting from everywhere and ball-handling, plus at least equal passing once his court vision develops more. Towns as a top-10 player this year I can buy, that’s for sure.

All things considered, yes, Towns is a better player to have than Anthony Davis as of today. I can’t disagree with any of the rest of the above sentiment.

"I question whether Wiggins will deliver on the hype. They just haven’t had much structure to their offense in the past and he needs to prove that he can be a guy who contributes within the structure rather than just an open court guy who gets by on his athleticism. … Kris Dunn is the best player in this draft. I would have taken him number one overall and I think he will be the Rookie of the Year. He has a higher floor than a guy like D’Angelo Russell and I trust him to figure it out. He has the personality, the tempo to his game, the play-to-play intensity.… I bet they transition Dunn into the starting point guard role and that puts Rubio’s future into question. Rubio is a very good player but I think they’ll have trouble trading him for value because everyone knows they have Dunn."

Anyone that’s read/listened to what I’ve wrote/said regarding Andrew Wiggins over the past couple of years here on Dunking With Wolves knows that I wholeheartedly agree with the above. The lack of offensive structure in each of Wiggins’ two years in the NBA has affected him greatly, but it’s also partially on him. That said, so much can change this year.

Dunn as the best player in the draft has become a fairly popular thought. It’s certainly possible that he’s the most-polished rookie; he is 22 years old already, after all. But it’s hard for me to call him the “best” when he had such obvious turnover issues as a senior and wasn’t a consistent scorer, either.

As far as personality, tempo, and intensity…yes, Dunn certainly appears to have those intangibles. He’ll be a solid teammate and should be a good pro when it’s all said and done. There’s nothing groundbreaking above regarding Ricky Rubio, either, just simply more of the same that’s already been out there.

"LaVine should be a designated scorer off the bench because he doesn’t guard well enough to be a starter. He has blinders. I don’t see the star talk; I think he’s a slightly more skilled Gerald Green. Thibodeau will either be the best or worst thing to happen to him."

A little early to pull the chute on Zach LaVine, no? He isn’t a good defender, but he’s also entering his age-21 season and certainly improved more than Gerald Green did from his rookie to sophomore seasons in the NBA.

Yes, LaVine has tons of improving to do, especially on the defensive end of the floor. But he’s already likely to be a starting-caliber two-guard, at least on offense.

"… Minnesota might be a little thin at other spots but I like their rotation of bigs. … Aldrich was a nice pick-up at a good price. He and Dieng are a great contrast to have in terms of their skills at that five spot. Aldrich gives you some workmanlike offense and Dieng is more of an interior defensive presence. They’ve got Jordan Hill for energy and rebounding too. … Will Thibodeau trust Muhammad? He’s pretty expendable and could be a trade piece.”"

This is all fair. The big man rotation is solid, if not spectacular. My thoughts exactly on Shabazz Muhammad, by the way: ‘expendable’ isn’t a bad way to describe the streaky fourth-year wing. Don’t be shocked if he’s moved at some point this season.

This was an outstanding piece, and there is a ton of intriguing information (read: hot takes) regarding the rest of the Western Conference, with the Eastern Conference piece still to come.

Next: Andrew Wiggins: Putting In The Summer Work

Please check it out, and we’ll see you back at Dunking With Wolves after the Wolves’ second-to-last preseason tilt this evening…