Minnesota Timberwolves: Roster today compared to start of the season

D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Minnesota Timberwolves, D'Angelo Russell
MIAMI, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 26: D’Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Point Guards

Out: Jeff Teague, Shabazz Napier

In: D’Angelo Russell, Jordan McLaughlin (kind of)

The Timberwolves started the season with Tom Thibodeau-era holdover Jeff Teague at the point guard spot, backed up by Napier, the veteran acquisition from the offseason.

As a ball-dominant point guard yet a hesitant 3-point shooter, Teague was never a fit in the system that Rosas or head coach Ryan Saunders wanted to run. To make matters worse, he is a below-average defender with questionable effort on that end of the floor.

Every time the ball swung to Teague on the perimeter and he double-clutched a 3-point attempt before driving into traffic or swinging a pass to a more closely-guarded teammate, Rosas undoubtedly allowed his dreams of a dynamic point — did someone say D’Angelo Russell? — to creep back into his mind.

After the Wolves had a strong start to the season but then began a long losing streak at the beginning of December, Teague was moved to the bench. Rosas held off on moving him until mid-January, but ultimately shipped him and Treveon Graham to Atlanta for Allen Crabbe.

This was essentially a move aimed at moving out a reluctant shooter for a willing and accurate one. There was virtually no salary cap impact, as all three players are set to be free agents following this season.

Unfortunately, Crabbe never found his stride in the Twin Cities, shooting just 6-for-26 on 3-point attempts over the course of nine games. He was bought out in late February and hasn’t signed with another team as of yet.

Once the deal was done, the Wolves only had Napier as the only true point guard on the roster. Culver received some minutes running the point with the bench unit and Andrew Wiggins even saw plenty of run initiating the offense, but the Wolves found two-way signee Jordan McLaughlin to be their best option.

Napier and Wiggins were both traded prior to February’s trade deadline, and the point guard spot now belongs to Russell, who has averaged 32.7 minutes in the 12 games he’s played in a Wolves jersey. He’s been ably backed up by McLaughlin, the undrafted guard out of USC who began to impress after a rocky first few games.

Overall, McLaughlin’s shooting splits (field goal/3-point/free throw percentages) of 48.9/38.2/66.7 and per-game averages of 7.6 points and 4.2 assists will play as a backup point guard. He’s even seen some recent minutes alongside Russell in an ultra-small backcourt that appears as though it might work for stretches against certain opponents.

It’s too early to tell whether or not McLaughlin will be the backup of the future for the Wolves, but he’s absolutely in the offseason conversation. If he can continue to compete defensively, get to the rim with an impressive burst, and shoot threes at 38 percent or better … it’s fair to expect him to earn a contract for next season — and possibly beyond.