The Minnesota Timberwolves drastically changed their roster throughout the 2019-20 season, but who were the team's Most Valuable Players?
Picking the Minnesota Timberwolves' three Most Valuable Players is difficult because of the different variables that went into this chaotic season. But we're going to try.
For one, the season is still on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether play resumes or not is still a question mark.
Another reason is the Timberwolves' opening night roster was drastically different than where it stands today.
Minnesota traded away nine players before the trade deadline, leaving just eight familiar faces on the roster, counting two-way players and guys who have spent the majority of their season in the G League. Josh Okogie was drafted just prior to last season and is the second-longest-tenured Wolf next to Karl-Anthony Towns.
For this article's purpose, the newly acquired players will not make the list since they only were able to play a handful of games. Throughout the season, there was a lot going on with injuries and players being recalled from the Iowa Wolves.
There were a few players that performed well this season that didn't make the list. Andrew Wiggins deserves a case for the way he improved this season too. The former Rookie of the Year was starting to become more aggressive and was rebounding and facilitating the ball better. His shot selection was also a big improvement from where it was coming into the league.
Robert Covington struggled at times, but without him, the Wolves would have been lost on defense. He was also one of the better shooters on the team that struggled to shoot the ball from distance.
Additionally, although he's missed most of the season due to injury and has played in just 23 games, Jake Layman played a helping hand in the team being 11-12 when he suited up.
With all this in mind, this is a look at three players that have been the team's MVP so far.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns
Despite this being the most games Towns has missed, he deserves to be on the list for his production when he has played
Without Towns, the Wolves would have been in even worse shape and that was noticeable after the trade deadline, when Gorgui Dieng was no longer with the team to fill in for KAT.
Towns was having the best scoring season of his career, putting up 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals per game over 35 contests. His rebound and block totals were down a bit, but Towns was scoring and facilitating better while taking a larger overall role in the offense.
He was also shooting 50.8 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from three and 79.6 percent from the charity stripe. Towns is still chasing the 50/40/90 club, which would almost be unprecedented for a player of his size -- only eight players in NBA history managed those thresholds. Additionally, Towns also corralled 24 double-doubles this season.
If the season were to pick up again at some point, it would be likely that Towns would be able to play after being sidelined with a wrist injury. Fans were only able to see one game of the highly anticipated pairing of D'Angelo Russell and Towns following the All-Star Break.
More of Towns and Russell together will not only bring excitement, but give the front office a better idea of what the team needs to do in the offseason.
Despite missing games because of injuries and a couple due to suspension, Towns was predictably one of the most important players this season for Minnesota.
2. Gorgui Dieng
Dieng played a vital role for the Timberwolves off the bench and provided stability in the starting lineup when Towns was unable to suit up.
Dieng is a different player as a starter when he is coming off the bench.
Throughout his career in Minnesota, Dieng played a lot better when he has a bigger role or the confidence in his game. Prior to Taj Gibson replacing Dieng in the starting lineup, he was performing well as the starting power forward alongside Towns. When he was moved to the bench during that 2017-18 season, he was almost unplayable.
With a larger role this season, Dieng played a lot better. Before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, he played in 46 games and started in 17 of those. He averaged 7.4 points, 5.6 points, 1.3 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.8 steals per game.
As a starter, he averaged 13.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks. One of the bigger improvements to his game this season was his ability to shoot the ball from three. He was one of the team's better 3-point shooters, shooting 38.3 percent while 43.3 percent of his shot attempts were from beyond the arc.
Dieng also had a large part in improving the Timberwolves defense when he was the starter. Towns missed close to a month between Dec. 14 and Jan. 16. The Wolves' defensive rating was 104.1 during that span, which was second in the league.
Now, Minnesota is hurting with Towns out and Dieng playing in Memphis. With both players out of the equation, it's easy to see why they were each was a top-three most-valuable player to the team's success.
1. Jordan McLaughlin
It's safe to say that the Minnesota fanbase has fallen in love with McLaughlin's game. After all, he has a lot of similar characteristics to Tyus Jones, in that he doesn't make many mistakes, he hustles hard and is a pest on defense.
McLaughlin signed a two-way contract last summer and has exceeded expectations, enough to likely warrant a new contract with the team. If given the chance and the team can work things out with money, the Timberwolves should be giving him a long-term deal.
He's approaching his 45-day limit that he can spend with the team, and the Wolves will need him for the rest of the season if it resumes.
This season, he's played in 30 games, starting two. Overall, McLaughlin is averaging 7.6 points, 4.2 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He's also shot the ball efficiently, going 48.9 percent from the field and 38.2 percent on 3-point attempts.
He will need to work on his free throws, shooting 66.7 percent on limited attempts. But in the two games he started, McLaughlin averaged 19.5 points, 10.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 0.5 steals per game. It's obviously a small sample size, but it's good to see a two-way undrafted rookie have such success when given the opportunity.
McLaughlin is constantly sniffing out plays and this game against the Chicago Bulls is no different than what he has been doing all season.
Also, for a guy standing just 5-foot-11, he may have the most poster- worthy dunks on the roster this season.
He's been an incredibly fun player to watch and deserves to see a long-term deal for the body of work he has done.
With all the variables that have occurred this season and a few players just missing the cut, Towns, Dieng and McLaughlin have been the Timberwolves three most valuable players this season -- and in that order.