Minnesota Timberwolves: Reviewing the pre-training camp depth chart

Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Juan Hernangomez
Juan Hernangomez of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves training camp depth chart: Power forward

The Wolves entered the offseason with only one true hole in the starting lineup, depending on your thoughts surrounding their wing depth.

Towns has had plenty of running mates across his five years in the league so far, from centers miscast as 4s (Gorgui Dieng), to defensive-minded veterans with limited offensive games (Taj Gibson), small-ball 4s (Robert Covington), and more traditional modern-day stretch-4s, such as Nemanja Bjelica, Dario Saric, and now, Juan Hernangomez.

While there are plenty of other variables that can impact some of the on-off and two-man lineup numbers, the Wolves saw their most success last year with Covington next to Towns. Gibson had the next-most success, but the Wolves’ offensive scheme is drastically different now than it was under Tom Thibodeau.

The theoretically best fit next to Towns would seem to be a versatile stretch-4 who can defend at a high level, rebound well enough to hold his own and knock down open 3-point attempts.

Hernangomez, who was acquired from Denver in February, seems to check most of those boxes, and the Wolves just bet $21 million over three years (the third year is a team option) that they got it right.

Hernangomez will get first crack at starting, and given that he’s only had the chance to play two games alongside Towns and that he is a career 35.9 percent 3-point shooter who hit on 42 percent across 14 games in a Wolves uniform last year … it makes a ton of sense.

Behind Hernangomez is an interesting mix of veterans and young potential.

The aforementioned Layman will split time between the 3 and the 4. His best skill is his cutting and switchability on defense, although he isn’t outstanding at any one thing. Layman is big enough and athletic enough to guard most 3s and 4s, and if he can improve his 3-point stroke a bit then he’ll earn plenty of playing time in the Wolves’ search for versatile, switchable defenders.

The Wolves traded for Ed Davis with the idea that he can play both the 4 and the 5 and bring defense, rebounding, and toughness no matter where he plays. The bet here is that he’s the primary backup to Towns, but if the team struggles defensively or plays against opponents with multiple bigs, Davis will see time at power forward alongside Towns.

Naz Reid almost exclusively played center last season but theoretically could play alongside Towns, especially if he shores up his defense.

The wild card on this year’s roster is Jarred Vanderbilt, whose combination of size, athleticism, and rebounding skill is tantalizing as a potential switchable big who can run the floor like a freight train. He likely won’t get minutes out of the gate but has a real chance to earn time as the year wears on.

Rookie Jaden McDaniels will likely spend most of the year in the G League but has a similar profile to Vanderbilt plus significant additional offensive upside.

Starter: Hernangomez
Key Reserves: Davis, Layman
Wild Card: Vanderbilt, Reid
G League: McDaniels

Time to talk about the center spot.