Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones have had down years so far this season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves may spend the offseason looking to upgrade the point guard position.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ biggest hole this season has been their lack of an extravagant point guard who can pass the ball from the perimeter, or create plays by driving and drawing defenders and creating open outlets.
While Rose has certainly shown he can be The Guy, his predisposition for lower leg injuries has kept him as a valuable sixth man, and he’s already missed 10 games this season. Not to mention, current contract, which expires after the 2018-19 season. That would leave the point guard position in the hands of Teague, who has a player option for next year, and Jones, who is a restricted free agent.
While Teague has certainly shown glimpses of still being a peak play-maker (the Orlando game comes to mind, when he put up 23 points and 10 assists). He’s been a passable facilitator, but not the playmaker the team is craving, as he’s averaging just 11.7 points and 8.1 assists per game.
Tyus, for his part, would still be a dubious starting point guard for a team with its eyes on the playoffs. For instance, he went a lousy 1-7 from the floor in the abysmal shellacking from the Sixers on Tuesday. That’s hard to stomach from your starting point guard, unless he’s contributing regularly in several other areas.
This leaves the Wolves with a question mark at the position. Below are five candidates to fill the role this off-season. More on these players in the near future, but here’s an early primer.
Elfrid Payton – Despite missing six weeks after a pinkie surgery, he’s once again hit his stride with the Pelicans over the last eight games, averaging 11.9 points and 6.3 assists so far in the month of January. Payton’s role is being overshadowed by starting guard Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, but has shown the ability to be a starter in the NBA. He put up 12 assists in only 29 minutes against the Warriors on Wednesday and scored 25 points and dished out seven assists against the Nets earlier this month.
Kemba Walker – Kemba is an electrifying figure on the court; a player that defenses must consider during every possession. A player that Wolves could really use on their offense. Unfortunately, he’s also a player that the Hornets won’t let go easily, but with an expiring contract and perhaps a willingness for a change of scenery, an off-season signing could be in play. Walker and KAT could make for an interesting dynamic on the offensive end of the court.
Eric Bledsoe – Another expiring contract and another veteran facilitator. Bledsoe deserves more credit than he’s been given for Milwaukee’s success this year. Averaging 15.3 points while shooting 48.6 percent and dishing out 5.6 assists per game, his play-making ability is undeniable. He can also play some defense limiting the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley to 14 points on Wednesday.
Darren Collison – Collison would make for a positive addition to the team this offseason. He has shown demonstrative ball-handling skills and can shake ‘n’ bake defenders with a wicked crossover. He’s averaged 5.6 assists and is shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc and has proved that he can drain the three when needed.
Ben Simmons – A long shot, I know. Actually, it’s about as possible as Prince himself performing “1999” during halftime at Target Center. But let’s suspend all logic for a moment and imagine this guy in a Purple Rain jersey, throwing an alley-oop up to KAT. No more Butler. No more Thibs. Wiggins is watching with that big, goonish smile (click here to lift your spirits) of his and is nailing 3-pointers like James Harden. (Also in this reality, the Vikings still have Case Keenum and are playing in the NFC Championship.)
Isn’t that nice? And I’m not sure if you’ve heard the news but he’s even shooting threes now…
More on potential point guard options in the coming weeks and months. There’s always a chance that the Wolves could be active at the trade deadline, too…