The Minnesota Timberwolves completely overhauled their roster at the trade deadline to create a more versatile team. Let’s look at the best lineup combinations thus far.
Interpreting lineup data can be tricky and misleading due to minutes played and who is on the other end of the floor, but it can still tell us a lot about how five guys work together.
Whether this season is over or not is irrelevant for the Minnesota Timberwolves at this point, but we can still look at the post-trade deadline minutes to project what we can expect from this team next season (or in a couple of months).
Looking at minutes from November seems counterintuitive, so we will only be looking at lineups of players who are still on the team. Due to injuries, illnesses, and a shortened calendar, the results come from a small sample size, but they are still informative.
One of the best five-man lineups was Jordan McLaughlin, Malik Beasley, Josh Okogie, Juancho Hernangomez, and Karl-Anthony Towns. The lineup had a net rating of 40.4, offensive rating (ORTG) of 137.5, and a defensive rating (DRTG) of 97.1, per Cleaning the Glass.
At a glance, this is an odd assortment of players, but based on their skillsets, the positive results make sense.
Let’s start with the three-guard backcourt of McLaughlin, Beasley, and Okogie. All three are very different players, but they complement each other nicely.
McLaughlin was one of the advanced stat darlings from this season who didn’t get enough credit. Offensively, his effective field goal percentage (eFG%) ranked in the 98th percentile of guards, his assist-to-usage ratio ranked in the 96th percentile of guards, and his steal percentage ranked in the 89th percentile of guards.
Along with McLaughlin’s accurate shooting, Beasley’s eFG% ranked in the 86th percentile of wings and his 3-point percentage ranked in the 94th percentile. Beasley’s threat as a spot-up scorer fits perfectly with McLaughlin’s accurate passing, creates space for Okogie as a cutter, and provides an outlet for Towns when defenses commit to him.
Beasley has been a notably bad defender throughout his career. When McLaughlin and Okogie are on the floor with him, though, Beasley can hide on a less productive opponent and make up for any of his lapses with his excellent defensive rebounding (82nd percentile of wings).
A major reason Beasley’s defensive ineptness does not hurt this lineup is because of Okogie’s defensive versatility. Okogie can switch on any guard or wing and disrupt the opponent’s offense. His block and steal rates both rank in at least the 70th percentile of wings, and without Okogie, opponents would be able to target Beasley more easily.
Okogie’s offensive struggles have been noticeable, but with McLaughlin and Beasley on the floor, Okogie is relied upon less as a creator and can roam to find open spots of the floor to exploit. This lineup has four guys who can all shoot from outside, which creates a more open lane where Okogie can either cut (78th percentile in points per possession) or crash the offensive glass (95th percentile of wings).
Now, let’s talk about the frontcourt.