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, Juan Hernangomez
Juan Hernangomez is back with the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Fringe options for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting lineup

Ricky Rubio, Josh Okogie, Anthony Edwards, Juancho Hernangomez

This side of Towns, Russell, and Beasley, what players are expected to have a solid shot to crack the starting lineup but aren’t exactly shoo-ins?

The remaining two starters will almost certainly come from the above group of four players.

Juan Hernangomez is the most likely of this group to start. The 6-foot-9 Spaniard just signed a three-year, $21 million deal and is a perfect match for Towns in the frontcourt. The only reason he isn’t a sure thing is that we don’t know just how small Saunders wants to play, and just how frequently the starting lineup could change based on matchups.

We’ve already touched on Rubio, and it wouldn’t shock if the Wolves ran with an interesting small/big combination of Rubio, Russell, Beasley, Hernangomez, and Towns.

The Wolves would have the flexibility to sub out Rubio for one of the bigger wings depending on matchups or even take out Hernangomez if head coach Ryan Saunders wants to play extremely small.

Okogie is the best defensive wing on the roster, and it isn’t particularly close. He’s entering his third year and is the longest-tenured Wolf not named Karl-Anthony Towns. Okogie is dynamite in transition and always plays hard, and those things matter.

The downside is that he’s the worst jump-shooter among the Wolves’ deep wing group, and he may be best cast as a defense-first, energetic sixth-man of sorts for this team.

Now, on to Edwards. It’s rare that No. 1 overall picks don’t start, but it feels unlikely that it happens on the 2020-21 Timberwolves. At least not on opening night, that is.

The Wolves only have two starting spots open, and one will almost certainly be for Hernangomez. The other is a wing job, but odds are that Saunders will go with a Rubio, Russell, and Beasley trio or start the veteran Okogie (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?) over the 20-year-old Edwards.

Remember, this team wants to win. They want to compete for a playoff berth. They’ll give Edwards every opportunity to earn minutes, but he won’t be handed a starting spot.