The Minnesota Timberwolves are highly unlikely to make the playoffs, and they’d be best served to allow Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to take it easy to close out the season.
While still mathematically alive, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not making the playoffs.
Andrew Wiggins needs to prepare for an offseason that requires him to make changes if wants to have a long and successful NBA career.
Limiting both player’s minutes for the remainder of the season is the conservative and correct approach for a brighter future.
It has been a disappointing year for the Timberwolves. A season that began with promise instead saw the Wolves mired in drama with Jimmy Butler, poor play, and the firing of Tom Thibodeau.
With the slumping T-Wolves sitting at 32-35 and six games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the final playoff spot, it’s the time the team throws in the towel on the 2018-19 season by limiting minutes for Wiggins and Towns.
Wiggins, the 2014 No.1 overall pick in the draft, has seen his numbers decline the past two seasons. His PER (Player Efficiency Rating) has gone from 16.5 in 2016-17, to 13.0 in 2017-18 and 11.9 thisy ear. He’s been settling for low-percentage, outside jumpers while not slashing to the basket. Wiggins is only 24 years old, and this offseason is critical for him to decide how serious his NBA future is going to be.
While he’s already signed to a max contract extension, if he has another poor season the T-Wolves will explore trades and simply hand over the reigns to KAT. The hope is that by limiting Wiggins’ minutes the reminder of the season he reduces his chance for injury and, ideally, can increase his PER by taking better shots and improve his scoring output in less minutes.
KAT had a scare just over two weeks ago when he as in a car accident that nearly took his life, but since rejoining the team he’s returned to his All-Star self. If there’s anyone who should be shut down for the season, it’s KAT. Add in the complication of the knee injury suffered against the Wizards and it’s doubly true.
The lingering mental effect from such a traumatizing experience requires rest. However, he’s is in a peculiar situation because there’s a lot of money on the line. If KAT makes an All-NBA team this season, his super-max extension skyrockets to $190 million over the next five years. If he does not, the extension caps at $158 million.
The Wolves are hard-pressed to make the playoffs this season as they would have to leapfrog the ninth-seeded Sacramento Kings and still catch either the Spurs or Los Angeles Clippers. Of course, if the Wolves make the playoffs as an eighth seed, they are going to be blown-out by the defending champion Golden State Warriors anyways.
Purely thinking long-term, it makes sense to limit KAT’s minutes to bring him back stronger next season. However, it could take some convincing for him to give up that shot at an extra $32 million.
Limiting minutes for Wiggins and KAT gives the other players an opportunity to audition for a roster spot for next season. Is Josh Okogie part of the team’s future? Is Dario Saric a starter or sixth man? Should the Wolves go with Tyus Jones at point guard over Jeff Teague? Is Keita Bates-Diop a rotational player?
This is a chance for coach Ryan Saunders to see how he can develop the younger players and move up in the rankings next year. Here’s hoping that Wiggins and Towns take some much-needed rest over the last month of the season.