Using advanced stats to find 8 perfect role-player fits for the Minnesota Timberwolves

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Minnesota Timberwolves, Matisse Thybulle

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 30: Matisse Thybulle #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

If the Minnesota Timberwolves already have their two superstars in place, then it’s time to look for valuable role players to fill out the roster.

With D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns firmly in place as cornerstones for the Minnesota Timberwolves, it’s time for the front office to start looking around the league for potential fits.

As always, they’ll have to keep in mind the importance of finding high-value contracts through trades or free agency.

Head coach Ryan Saunders has seemed to prioritize 3-point shooting and cuts to the basket offensively, so it makes sense for the front office to target players who excel in those areas. More importantly, the Wolves need guys who can defend at a high-to-elite level.

Using NBA.com’s play type stats for spot-up shooting and cutting efficiency, and Bball Index’s Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM), I compiled a few lists of players who best fit the Wolves’ desired criteria.

After filtering out players who played less than 16 minutes per game during the 2019-20 season, I then searched for players who ranked in at least the 75th percentile in Defensive PIPM.

While it would be fantastic to find wings that are great defenders and shooters and finishers, there were only five players in the league who ranked at or above the 75th percentile in each category. Instead, it seemed more prudent to search for players who were in the 75th percentile defensively and in one of the categories offensively, whether that be as a spot-up shooter or cutter.

For spot-up shooters, the list was 18 names long. For cutters, there were 16. On a list of players who were above the 75th percentile in defense, 50th in shooting and 50th in cutting, there were 22 names. A few players made multiple lists.

Remember, the name of the game is finding superstars and surrounding them with talent that doesn’t weight down your books or impact your flexibility. The Wolves are clearly all-in on Towns and Russell, and that means that they’re onto the next phase.

What follows are a few of the names that stood out as potentially obtainable for the Wolves…

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