Minnesota Timberwolves starting lineup: Locks, fringe, and potential break-ins

D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves will have a vastly different lineup and rotation on opening night than they did last season.

After a flurry of moves during and after the 2020 NBA Draft, what will the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lineup look like come opening night?

And in case you hadn’t hear, this isn’t a typical offseason, either. Training camp starts in a week and preseason games kick-off in just over two weeks.

That means that we don’t have much time to debate the Wolves’ starting lineup. Our own Dylan Jackson predicted the group of five last week, but this time we’ll take a different approach and examine who the locks, fringe starters, and potential surprise starters could be when the season starts in just a few weeks.

Locks for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting lineup

Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley

This was the easy part.

Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell are the team’s two best players and are both on max contracts. They’re starting, in case that wasn’t obvious to anyone.

Malik Beasley is probably as close to a sure thing as there can be; let’s irresponsibly throw a number out there and call it 90 percent that he’s an opening night starter.

Now, time to play devil’s advocate.

Yes, the Wolves just gave Beasley $60 million over the next four years, but the Wolves are also paying Ricky Rubio $17 million this year and $17.8 million next year. Clearly, Rubio and Russell are going to play together frequently in the backcourt.

That means that the 6-foot-5 Beasley would be bumped to guarding opposing small forwards. Sure, the Wolves will generally run with a “guard, three wings, and a big” lineup, but that doesn’t mean that all of their opponents will do the same. Someone has to guard big, athletic wings.

It won’t be Russell, and neither Rubio or Beasley is best-suited for that role, either. Depending on matchups, it’s not inconceivable to think that Josh Okogie — or maybe even Anthony Edwards, depending on how things to in December — could get a start.

It’s far more likely that it would come at the expense of Rubio than Beasley, but we can’t rule out that the Wolves may want to split-up high-usage players and allow Beasley to function as the offensive focal point of the reserve unit.

Still, the safe money is on the newly-minted $60-million-man to start, regardless of opponent.