A disappointing season for the Minnesota Timberwolves has left fans desperately searching for a scapegoat on whom to pin all of the team’s problems. Enter Andrew Wiggins.
The easiest single person to blame for the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ disappointing season (this side of Jimmy Butler, of course) is, without question, Andrew Wiggins.
While some criticism of the young wing is justified, a closer look at the roster construction reveals a much deeper problem.
Setting aside Wiggins for a moment, the team’s problem can be summed up in just one word: shooting. The Timberwolves lack perimeter shooting in the worst way. Outside of Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota has approximately zero reliable shooters. (Perhaps 0.5 if we count a healthy Robert Covington.)
As opponents consistently send double-teams towards Towns, the team’s woeful inability to space the floor has become even more obvious. If fans truly need someone to wag their proverbial fingers at, the real recipient of such acts should be former head coach and president of basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau.
The team Thibodeau fielded wouldn’t be a good shooting team on paper, and that’s why it’s not surprising that in fact, the Timberwolves are not a good 3-point shooting team.
The only shooting “specialist” on the team is Anthony Tolliver, who Thibodeau brought in using the team’s mid-level exception this offseason. Tolliver has been slightly inconsistent but that should be somewhat expected considering his up-and-down playing time over the course of the season.
It makes no sense to blame players for playing to their strengths style of or to be upset when they attempt to play to their weaknesses unsuccessfully. It’s obvious that Towns could benefit immensely from being surrounded by reliable shooters that could either scare teams away from sending the double team altogether or make them pay for it when they do.
Wiggins isn’t going to check that box. His game has never been spot-up shooting. While he and Towns should certainly share some minutes together, the best solution may be to stagger most of Andrew’s minutes so that the majority of his playing time is with the second unit. In that scenario, Wiggins can be the primary scorer and the focal point of a higher paced offense.
Being unable to identify what types of players would further unleash Karl-Anthony Towns may likely be Tom Thibodeau’s Minnesota legacy despite leading the team to it’s first playoff berth in over a decade. Almost every move he made was a hindrance to the development of the budding start.
Signing Gorgui Dieng to a high-paying, long-term deal was his first mistake. Follow that with drafting a point guard in Kris Dunn that lacks the ability to stretch a defense. And now, swapping Dunn, Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markkanen for slightly over a year of Jimmy Butler isn’t looking so wise now either
Coach Thibodeau also removed the play-making Ricky Rubio and replaced him with a “scoring” point guard in Jeff Teague. Add to the list extending the aforementioned Andrew Wiggins to a maximum contract and you’ve left the team without salary cap space, a shot-creating wing nor any semblance of a 3-point shooter.
It is imperative that the Timberwolves commit their offseason to surrounding Towns with teammates that will accentuate his abilities. The idea of wasting another season of the young center is enough to give Minnesota fans nightmares.
Blaming Andrew Wiggins may be the sexy thing to do, but it won’t fix the underlying problem that Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden helped to create in downtown Minneapolis.