Tom Thibodeau’s old-school style will need to change if the Timberwolves are to evolve with the rest of the NBA. Otherwise, they will pay for it. Literally.
Over the course of the past several seasons, the style of NBA-play has evolved.
Winning teams have depth and shooting. Out with the old, and in with the new; that is how President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau has operated since he was hired in 2016.
It started with a teardown of assistant and front office jobs, and now we have seen what the new regime’s plans are with the roster.
After coaching for a single season, Thibodeau has completely remade the Minnesota Timberwolves throughout the offseason. So much so that media outlets across the league are already predicting the high levels of success the Timberwolves will achieve. However, I believe that a change in Thibodeau’s own coaching philosophy will be necessary in order for the Wolves to take the next step.
The newest additions to the Timberwolves have been exciting, rather interesting, to say the least.
The seemingly never-ending romance with Ricky Rubio ended in a trade for a future middle-of-the-first-round pick. Shortly after, Jeff Teague was signed to a three year, $57 million deal. Following that, another former Thibodeau prodigy, power-forward Taj Gibson signed a two year, $28 million deal. Lastly, it seems Jamal Crawford is planning on taking up a two year, $9 million deal with the Timberwolves. We’re still waiting on an official call for Crawford’s deal. Nevertheless, the roster has gone through a total makeover, and now the fans patiently wait for the regular season.
The Timberwolves spent a good amount of money this summer. Thibodeau might as well use what he got for it.
Fans have been cautiously approaching Tom Thibodeau’s coaching style ever since he was hired in April of last year.
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His specialty on the defensive end is something to look forward to, but the lopsided minute distribution has been a cause of concern. Some of Thibodeau’s former players such as Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have had their careers spoiled with injuries, following fantastic seasons under Thibodeau in Chicago.
Nevertheless, Thibodeau has gone through a team change of his own, and it is possible with a deeper team, the minute distribution will level out.
Throughout the offseason, the Timberwolves have surely added depth. Many fans debate whether or not Jeff Teague is an upgrade at point guard. However, Taj Gibson is a fantastic addition to the frontcourt, and Jamal Crawford will add instant scoring off the bench.
These new roster moves allow more freedom to work with different rotations. After Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns both averaged 37 minutes or more per game, I hope Thibodeau changes up his minute distribution.
There can be successful lineups that vary between big, small, athletic, shooting and rebounding. Taj Gibson is a versatile forward who will provide rebounding in abundance; whether or not he will start is up for debate.
However, moving Gorgui Dieng to the bench would add a starter-esque player to a bench that needs capable contributors. As stated earlier, Jamal Crawford will be a good replacement for Shabazz Muhammed due to Muhammed’s streakiness and Crawford’s ability to handle the ball if needed.
Lastly, a player who is often forgotten, Nemanja Bjelica will be a key stretch four off the bench. If “Beli” can return to the way he was playing at the end of the 2016-2017 season, the Wolves will be in good shape.
Wiggins, Teague, Butler, and Towns will need rest in order to make a deep playoff run.
If Tom Thibodeau expects to go far into the playoffs, the bench will need to be utilized throughout the season. What is important is that players on the bench get their chance to play.
If Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, and Towns eat up all of the minutes, if the Wolves make the playoffs, not only will our core be fatigued from a long regular season, but the bench will not have the experience to make a substantial difference.
The Timberwolves have lacked an efficient bench for many seasons in a row.
Now, the Wolves have a competent one. Successful teams in the past several years have taken starters out of entire games in order to prepare for the playoffs. If the new Timberwolves squad can prove that they are good enough to deserve that treatment, Tom Thibodeau should follow that resting trend.
The Timberwolves front office spent their money well this summer. Now they need to utilize their assets. Hopefully, Wiggins, Towns and Butler don’t play more than 40 minutes per game. They will be needed down the road.
Timberwolves fans across the league pray that their team makes the playoffs. Nothing would be worse than seeing a star get overworked and injured in the process of meeting that goal. But when it comes to Minnesota sports, anything is possible. . .