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, Jaylen Nowell
Jaylen Nowell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 ways to upgrade on the wing

The Wolves went from a dearth of wings to a healthy collection of solid options. The catch, however, is that they don’t have a single true wing that could be considered a two-way player, or even a reliable “three-and-D” player.

This list will include players who appeared at the 4 but did not primarily play at power forward. There will be also players listed in the frontcourt section who played some minutes at the 3.

Current rotation: Anthony Edwards, Malik Beasley, Josh Okogie, Jaylen Nowell, Jarrett Culver, Jake Layman

Edwards, Beasley, and Okogie all spent long chunks of time as starters this year, while Culver started early in the season and Layman saw time as a starting power forward but was largely out of the rotation once the season ended.

Homegrown options

Edwards is a shoo-in to be a starter next year after beginning his rookie season on the bench but improving massively over the course of the 2020-21 campaign.

Beasley is a “homegrown option” for improvement in that he missed the majority of the second half to the season due to suspension and injury.

Nowell has the most upside this side of Edwards when it comes to potential improvement. He took a mini-leap from his rookie to sophomore seasons as a pro, mostly due to increased opportunity. But he was a genuinely reliable bucket-getter off the bench from late January until he was injured in mid-March.

Nowell adds the ability to score both as a primary ballhandler and a catch-and-shoot player from both the mid-range and outside the arc that is only surpassed on the wing by Beasley.

Culver theoretically has upside remaining — he’s only 21 years old, after all. But he seemed to regress in some areas in his second season as a professional and is now coming off season-ending surgery. The former No. 6-overall pick is a candidate to be traded this offseason.


Edwards won’t be traded, but that’s about the only sure thing among this group.

Beasley may have just signed an extension last offseason, but his contract suddenly looks like reasonable value, and there are legitimate questions about the long-term fit of a backcourt with a ball-dominant trio of Russell, Edwards, and Beasley. Add in the off-court issues, and there’s a case to be made that the Wolves should trade Beasley while his on-court value remains high.

Okogie probably has some trade value as well, although he only has one more year remaining on his rookie contract. While he regressed offensively this season, he is still a plus defender and would probably be coveted for teams searching for energy and defensive stability.

Culver is the most likely wing to be traded, given the size of his contract, the remaining upside he possesses, and the sudden glut of wing players the Wolves have. Nowell, on the other hand, surely has value on the trade market due to his upside and bargain of a contract, but those are exactly the reasons the Wolves won’t be trading him.

Jake Layman could be included in a trade as added value; he’s a fringe rotation player at best but does have some positional versatility and is also on a perfectly reasonable contract.

Free agency

Again, the Wolves don’t have cap space, so they’ll almost certainly be looking for bargains and depth options.

There are some veterans who could be had for the mid-level exception or below. Before the season, we may have identified the likes of Denzel Valentine and Reggie Bullock as options; Valentine had a rough year and doesn’t seem as appealing anymore while Bullock has likely played himself into a bit more security in free agency than a one-year, prove-it type of deal.

James Ennis is another option as a solid, switchable wing with some experience playing at the 4 as well. There are also plenty of veteran wings who may be looking for a title shot and won’t jump at the chance to join the Wolves; think players such as Nicolas Batum and Dudley.

Outside of filling a leadership void on the wing, those names won’t do much to improve the on-court product, but don’t count them out entirely.