But what factors on the roster could put the Wolves over the top? Maybe that means turning this team from a play-in team in the No. 9 or No. 10 spot into a more comfortable playoff spot, or maybe it simply means that they weather any injury storms that come up.
Let’s take a look at the three biggest potential X-factors on the roster for the Wolves.
Minnesota Timberwolves’ X-Factor No. 1: Leandro Bolmaro
Leandro Bolmaro is the only rookie on the Wolves roster that is on a full NBA deal and not on a two-way or training camp contract.
Yet all the talk about a potential Ben Simmons trade, plus Edwards’ second season and Towns returning to full health has soaked up much of the attention, both on a local and a national level. It’s easy to forget the Bolmaro was a first-round pick last season and could have potentially been drafted in the lottery this year based on how strong of a season he put together in the Euroleague.
Here’s a portion of what yours truly wrote here at Dunking With Wolves following the Wolves’ selection of Bolmaro during last November’s draft.
"Bolmaro is a fascinating prospect. He’s already extremely well-rounded, and the only glaring weaknesses is his outside jumper, and at 19 years old with solid touch from inside the paint and in the mid-range, there’s plenty of hope that he can improve. … While his floor is already that of a rotation player, Bolmaro has legitimate star upside if he can develop at least an average jump shot. His scoring touch from elsewhere on the floor and solid upper-body mechanics on his jumper are promising, although his base isn’t consistent and needs work. If he can develop a semblance of a 3-point shot, however, there’s a world in which he’s a starting wing alongside D’Angelo Russell come 2022, and a fully-realized Russell-Bolmaro-Edwards trio is tantalizing, to say the least…"
All of what was written about Bolmaro around the 2020 draft remains true. Add in that Bolmaro made 41 percent of his 3-point attempts across 63 games this season, and the Argentinian has a shot at cracking the rotation almost immediately.
The challenge, of course, is that he’ll be competing for minutes behind Anthony Edwards, Malik Beasley, and fellow 2020 draftee Jaden McDaniels. Josh Okogie will be vying for wing minutes as well, and depending on how often head coach Chris Finch wants to play Russell and Patrick Beverley together in the backcourt, there could be an impact on the rest of the wing depth on the roster there, too.
Still, if Bolmaro is able to provide solid pick-and-roll defense and an additional playmaker on the floor for the Wolves, Finch won’t be able to keep him off the floor. Bolmaro’s length, passing ability, and defensive skill-set could be a major difference-maker for the Wolves in 2021-22.