Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 ways to upgrade at each position

Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves just completed a generally disappointing campaign, but it finished on enough of a positive note that there should not be any expectation of a roster overhaul in the Twin Cities.

Still, the team finished with the league’s sixth-worst record and has plenty of glaring weaknesses. Overall defense and long-range shooting are chief among them, but there are other, more ancillary needs.

Let’s take a spin through the roster and look at the three ways the Wolves could improve at each level of the roster.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 ways to upgrade in the backcourt

It’s a bit tricky to define “backcourt” when it comes to the Wolves, as the likes of Malik Beasley, Anthony Edwards, and Jaylen Nowell have all spent time at the 2 and the 3 and even taken turns initiating offense.

The wing position will be a bit more complicated, so we’ll stick with pure point guards here.

Current rotation: D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio, Jordan McLaughlin

Russell is the max-contract star here, of course. Rubio was the veteran acquisition on draft night, expected to both play behind and alongside Russell.

McLaughlin was a revelation as a two-way contract signee n 2019-20 but went unsigned for much of this past offseason as a restricted free agent. Eventually, he re-signed with the Wolves on another two-way deal.

Homegrown options

Russell got off to a poor start at the beginning of 2020-21 and never was able to find his footing when Karl-Anthony Towns was out, first due to injury and then due to COVID-19.

Still, a healthy Russell is still an All-Star-caliber player on offense and appeared to make strides on defense last year following in-season knee surgery.

Rubio is now past his prime but has one year left on his deal at $17 million. He had a forgettable year in 2020-21 but played much better during the closing weeks of the season.

McLaughlin is the only point guard on the roster who has the possibility of improving next year, but he’s also the only one who is not under contract. Even still, he’ll be a 25-year-old guard coming off a pair of two-way contracts, so there isn’t a ton of upside remaining.


Russell is almost certainly not going anywhere. His market value is probably negative, unless a team wanted to pay roughly what the Wolves did to acquire him: another overpaid player plus a draft pick. But even in that instance, it’s not clear that Gersson Rosas would give up on his pairing of Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns after only a handful of games played together over the past two seasons.

Rubio is the most likely point guard to be traded; there were reportedly several teams interested in acquiring the veteran at the trade deadline, but the Wolves ultimately decided that his presence was more valuable than what he would have returned in a deal.

After all, Edwards said that Rubio was the best leader he’s ever been around, so Rosas may not be overly excited to deal his backup point guard in any deal that didn’t return significant value.

McLaughlin is a restricted free agent and could theoretically be moved in a sign-and-trade this summer, but that’s a fairly unlikely outcome.

Free Agency

The Wolves will have virtually zero cap space this summer, so if they add a point guard it will likely be on a veteran’s minimum deal. If Rubio was to be traded they may spend a bit more on a true backup, but that’s about the only scenario in which they’d use actual cap space to sign anyone.

Non-starting-caliber point guards on the market this offseason that could fit the primary backup/veteran mold include Elfrid Payton, T.J. McConnell, Reggie Jackson, Raul Neto, and Matthew Dellavedova.