Minnesota Timberwolves: Realistic expectations for the rookies

ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 18: President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas, Jarrett Culver #23, Jaylen Nowell #4, Naz Reid #11, and Head Coach Ryan Saunders pose for a photo. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 18: President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas, Jarrett Culver #23, Jaylen Nowell #4, Naz Reid #11, and Head Coach Ryan Saunders pose for a photo. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves look like they have some special rookie players, but what are realistic expectations ahead of the 2019-20 season?

In a tough Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves will need all hands on deck from every player.

There’s expectations on everyone, from Karl-Anthony Towns to Jeff Teague, all the way down to second-round pick Jaylen Nowell.

Sure, those expectations vary significantly from player to player, but what are the general expectations for the Wolves rookies?

Minnesota took Jarrett Culver and Nowell in the 2019 draft. They also acquired Naz Reid after the draft concluded and after working hard and proving to the team that he deserves to be here, he’s already landed a multi-year deal.

Let’s take a quick look at some realistic expectations for each player.

Jarrett Culver

Culver comes in with the loftiest expectations of the three, and understandably so.

Culver was a star at Texas Tech, leading the Red Raiders to the National Championship game that happened to be played in Minneapolis. Despite falling short of winning it all, Culver solidified his presence as a potential early lottery pick.

Minnesota moved up to No. 6 in the draft and while they reportedly had their eyes set on Darius Garland, Culver was someone they liked equally as much. He should find a lot of playing time this season and might even have a shot at cracking the starting lineup.

That, of course, all depends on how Minnesota shakes up its lineup, but it’s not hard to believe that he might be an everyday starter by the end of the season. Culver has the ability to be a two-way star in this league.

He can score the ball, rebound, facilitate and play defense. His shooting at Texas Tech was a little streaky in his sophomore season, but he was asked to do a lot more than he was in his freshman year. In his sophomore season, he averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks.

The expectations for Culver this season is to make an impact as a two-way player and start in at least half of the games.

Jaylen Nowell

Nowell doesn’t have the largest expectations this season for the Timberwolves.

There’s a lot of depth on the wing this season for the Wolves, and Nowell probably won’t see a lot of court time throughout the season. Players like Andrew Wiggins, Josh Okogie, Robert Covington, Culver, and Keita Bates-Diop will find time before him.

Bates-Diop and Covington may spend more of their more time at the four this season, but Minnesota has depth in its frontcourt.

However, when Nowell does see time, his role is to simply provide and offensive boost. He can shoot the ball and that will be a large help for the Wolves. For a team that is still trying to adapt the modern NBA play style, they still haven’t found much success.

Nowell shot 50.2 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range. If those numbers translate, he’ll play his way into more time, but playing for the Iowa Wolves of the G League may be better suited for him for the time being.

Naz Reid

Reid is a talented big man, and that was evident dating back to his high school days.

He was the No. 18 recruit in the country coming out of high school and landed at LSU. He averaged 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 0.7 steals and blocks per game, and after just one up-and-down season at the college level, Reid declared for the NBA Draft.

Prior to the start of the college season, Reid was consistently mocked in the lottery-to-mid first round. When it was all said and done, he wasn’t drafted at all.

The Wolves pounced, originally agreeing to sign Reid to a two-way deal. But after his impressive play in practice for Las Vegas Summer League and then throughout game play, his raw talent shined through and the Wolves pulled the trigger on converting his two-way deal into a partially guaranteed, multi-year deal.

Reid likely won’t see much time on the floor and will surely spend time in the G League. It’s still quite likely that Gorgui Dieng, who has presumably been pushed down the depth chart following the acquisitions of Jordan Bell, Noah Vonleh, and Jake Layman, is ahead of Reid as Ryan Saunders doles out playing time.

At the end of the day, however, Reid will be better suited developing and figuring things out in the G League, where he should find consistent playing time.

Next. 3 goals for Jeff Teague in 2019-20. dark

It sure appears as though Minnesota found three solid players that should all be able to contribute in their respective roles. Kudos to Gersson Rosas and his staff on what looks to be a solid offseason of acquiring young talent with considerable upside.