Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 rim protectors for Wolves to target this offseason

Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

It is no secret that the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ defense has been one of the league’s worst throughout recent memory.

Currently, the Timberwolves own a 115.2 defensive rating for the season, No. 27 in the league.  While the Wolves boast offensive talents such as Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, the roster is mostly devoid of defensive talent.

Most notably, the Timberwolves are getting thrown around in the paint like ragdolls, boasting a 47.8 percent rebounding rate(No. 26) and lacking the true rim protector that this team desperately needs.

Looking ahead to the 2021 offseason, there are three players the Wolves should target to shore up their rim protection.

Minnesota Timberwolves Rim-Protector Target: Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside was taken in the second round by the Sacramento Kings in 2010 and had a slow start to his career. He played 19 games with the Kings over two years before playing overseas and eventually finding a home in Miami. With the Heat, he put up averages of 13.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, and an elite 2.4 blocks per game across five seasons.

After playing in Portland last season, Whiteside has been relegated to more an end-of-the-bench role with the Kings this season and has earned a measly 14.6 minutes per game. However, this smaller role could lead to a discount on his services come free agency.

It was not too long ago that Whiteside was putting up averages of 15.5 points and 13.5 rebounds and a career-high 2.9 blocks per game with Portland — just last year, in fact.  Assuming the Kings will let him test free agency after his limited usage this season, the Timberwolves should be inclined to take a flier on the 7-foot shot-blocker out of Marshall in hopes he can play more as he did in 2019.

It would most likely be on a one-year prove-it deal and could be a bargain for a Wolves organization with limited cap space. Whiteside would provide more consistency and more of a defensive presence than the current rotation of backup bigs.

Minnesota Timberwolves Rim-Protector Target: Daniel Theis

Going undrafted in 2013,  the now-29-year-old Daniel Theis spent a few years overseas before finding a home in Boston in 2017.

Theis played as mostly a backup center up until last season when Brad Stevens started giving him run with the starters. He made the most of his opportunity averaging 9.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and a block per game in just 24 minutes of action.

Recently, Theis has been traded to the Chicago Bulls, where he has started multiple games and has seen an increased role following the departure of Wendell Carter Jr. at the trade deadline. With a defensive-oriented game, the ability to switch and guard multiple positions, and a knack for protecting the rim, Theis would be a welcome addition to the young Timberwolves squad on what should be a relatively affordable deal.

Theis is about to be on the wrong side of 30, and he shouldn’t command too much money over too many years in free agency.

Minnesota Timberwolves Rim-Protector Target: Myles Turner

This is the least likely of the options, but also the one with the most star power and highest potential.

The No. 11 pick in 2015, the 25-year-old Myles Turner has always been one of the better defensive bigs in the league. Over his first few seasons, he frequently flashed the potential of elite defensive prowess, but this most recent season it seems like he has put it all together.

Turner is averaging 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and a ridiculous 3.5 blocks per game. Adding Turner to this Timberwolves squad would easily give the team more of a defensive identity that would help them win games, and the contrast between the elite defensive talent of Turner and the special offense put on display by Karl-Anthony Towns would be a sight to behold.

Turner has two more years left on his contract, however, so the price to acquire him would come at the cost of some of the Wolves’ current assets.

Here is what an ideal trade for Turner would look like this offseason:

This trade is mostly centered on Jarrett Culver and Naz Reid as assets, with Rubio providing salary filler and a veteran presence on a fairly young Pacers squad. The main attraction of the trade for the Pacers, however, is the upside of Naz Reid, who could be a more offense-oriented Turner replacement.

The Pacers also get to take a chance on former No. 6 pick Jarrett Culver, who would welcome a change of scenery as an opportunity to re-establish his status as a high draft pick with his new team.

Additionally, Indiana essentially shaves a year off their future books, getting the final year of Rubio’s deal while sending out Turner’s remaining two years.

Although the probability of a Turner trade happening for the Wolves is relatively low, Wolves fans have learned to ‘never say never’ with Gersson Rosas in charge, as Rosas made major moves such as acquiring D’Angelo Russell and orchestrating a four-team trade in order to acquire Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Juancho Hernangomez.

Russell and Towns are proving to be a formidable duo. dark. Next

If the Wolves want to find some sort of defensive identity next season as they continue to figure things out with such a young team, bringing in an established rim protector like such as one of the three mentioned above would go a long way in building a successful franchise that wants to compete.