After a busy off-season, do the Timberwolves have what it takes to contend? In a three-part series, we will look at the starting five, the bench and the coaching to see how they stack up in the tough Western Conference. Next up, the bench.
If you missed Part One on the starting lineup, check it out here.
The Timberwolves had their starters on the floor a lot last season. Sure, the players may be young, but their bodies will start to feel pretty old if they stay out there as much in 2017-2018 as they did in Tom Thibodeau’s first season in Minnesota.
Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine all averaged at least 37 minutes per game during the regular season. That means they only had about 11 minutes of rest per game, which, when broken down into four quarters, is just under 3 minutes per quarter.
A list of things you can accomplish in under 3 minutes;
- Make Hot pockets
- Brush your teeth
- Create a post on Facebook that takes approximately less than three minutes to read.
The point is, you really can’t do much with such little amounts of rest, let alone have enough energy to compete at a high level throughout the duration of an NBA game.
Some of this has to do with head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has had a history of not being a firm believer with previous teams that rest equals success. Another factor is the limited contribution from the bench players on Minnesota’s roster.
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?
When looking at a championship team like the Golden State Warriors, the one thing that has been an integral part of their success is the performance of the bench players. They have lived off the motto “Strength in Numbers” for the last few seasons.
Giving their players adequate rest allowed for the Warriors starters to have more energy and play better in the postseason. There was a noticeable difference between them and the Cleveland Cavaliers starters in terms of energy level in the NBA Finals.
Lebron James averaged about 41 minutes per game in the playoffs, while none of the Warriors starting unit exceeded 35 minute. Playing that many minutes for any player is entirely too much. Golden State’s bench is key for them to be able to outplay and out-gun other teams over 48 minutes.
When it comes to the Wolves bench, there hasn’t been a lot of strength in recent years (unless you are talking about recently-released center Nikola Pekovic, who’s strength was always being on the bench due to injury.)
The approach had to be different this off-season. The Wolves decided to add some proven veteran players in Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford. Gibson adds a real tough edge to the team and has proven to be a versatile defender and also knows how to be effective in the offensive touches he gets. Crawford is a former Sixth Man of the Year and can score points in bunches.
Gibson’s ability to help the younger players on the defensive side of the ball and Crawford’s ability to be that lightning off the bench and give the team points when they are struggling to score should make a big difference this upcoming season.
There is still some work to do for the bench, as there are only 11 players on the roster currently. A few other veteran players are still on the market and may be willing to join the team as we inch closer to the regular season.
The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers could not have won championships if they hadn’t put together a strong supporting cast behind their stars. The Wolves have made some good strides in this area, and there should be a higher expectation and utilization of the bench players if they want to make a run deep into the postseason, and ultimately compete for a championship.
Stay tuned for Part Three of “Making the Timberwolves a championship contender” as we will continue by taking a look at the Wolves coaching situation…