The Minnesota Timberwolves were bad last year – plain and simple. While the team improved as the year went on, the Timberwolves really struggled to put games away late – as most bad teams do.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Projecting the 2021-22 closing lineup
A lot of the Timberwolves struggles came with coaching (Ryan Saunders was replaced mid-way though last season) and injuries (several core players missing extended amounts of time).
The Timberwolves added two veterans while also losing Ricky Rubio. Their core rotation improved with the two trades that they made – and it very well could affect who Chris Finch decides to play in the closing minutes of games.
Point Guard – D’Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell is the obvious pick at point guard. There is not any other player that can run the offense as well as he does on the roster, nor does anyone else bring the scoring – inside and out – to the court as a floor general. The defense is not great, but Russell has the ability to take over games at certain points. In the final three minutes of games in the fourth quarter, Russell has a FG-percentage of 44-percent and 3-point percentage of 35-percent – those are solid numbers.
Shooting Guard – Patrick Beverley
The Timberwolves and general manager Gersson Rosas made a sensational trade when they landed Patrick Beverley for only Jarrett Culver and Juan Hernangomez. Beverley gives high-level defensive intensity and 3-point shooting, and has several seasons of playoff experience under his belt.
The Timberwolves’ other option at this spot would be Malik Beasley, who does not give as much defense as Beverley, but is a high-volume 3-point shooter that could be inserted to this spot if Minnesota is trailing by a few possessions late in the game.
Small Forward: Anthony Edwards
The Timberwolves have three major pieces of their roster – players which they have invested a lot in: Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards. Assuming Edwards progresses as most expect him to (efficiency and defensive impact), he should be a shoe-in for having a spot in the closing lineup. There aren’t really any other options that would make sense, here, either.
Power Forward: Jaden McDaniels
The Timberwolves don’t have many two-way players – or guys that can contest well defensively – and Jaden McDaniels can be that in this lineup – alongside new addition Patrick Beverley. He was a great weakside rim protector alongside Karl-Anthony Towns last season, and his high percentage on 3-point attempts indicates he is a great shooter (albeit on low volume), as well.
Center: Karl-Anthony Towns
Yeah, there is no other selection here. Until proven otherwise, Towns is the best player on the Minnesota Timberwolves – and provides an incredibly unique skillset (especially on offense) to a team that has yet to capitalize on that talent. Whether the Timberwolves improve could be dependent on how this lineup fares this season.
Full closing lineup: