Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 potential X-factors on Wolves roster

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Chris Finch
Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has more depth to play with this season. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves X-Factor No. 3: Improved roster depth

The Wolves finally have a roster that appears to be chock-full of NBA-caliber players.

While Finch’s rotation will surely only be nine or 10 players deep and playoff rotations are routinely trimmed to eight players, each team’s depth is challenged at various points throughout the season.

In past years, the Wolves have struggled to field a competitive lineup when struggling through rough patches in the schedule and periods of time with significant injury issues.

This year, the Wolves should have the horses to remain competitive throughout the season.

Josh Okogie started 37 of the 59 games he played in last season. Overall for his career, Okogie has started in 117 of his 195 games with the Wolves. While he’s a fine defender, Okogie is not a starting-caliber player in today’s NBA.

Okogie is best cast as a high-energy defender off the bench and is probably best-suited to be the eighth or ninth man in a rotation. With the additions of Beasley, Edwards, McDaniels, Bolmaro, and Beverley over the past 18 months, Okogie has been bumped down the depth chart. Add in Jarred Vanderbilt as another option and potential starter at the 4, and there’s even less opportunity for Okogie.

He’ll still be part of the regular rotation, but by the end of the season, Okogie could find his minutes overtaken by Bolmaro.

Jake Layman is another player who was intended to be part of the rotation in each of the last two seasons. He was essentially the team’s sixth man at the start of the 2019-20 campaign, leading the bench in minutes in five of the first six games.

While injuries have impacted his playing time in his first two seasons with the Wolves and his $3.7 million salary is a bargain for a functional depth player with some positional flexibility, he’s not a true rotation player for a team with playoff aspirations.

Layman won’t open the season in the rotation and will probably be the 11th man on the roster. It’s another example of the stronger depth and incremental improvement that the Wolves front office has made over the past two years.

Next. Wolves are still in the mix for a Ben Simmons trade. dark

Ultimately, the Wolves’ depth could be a major factor impacting whether or not this team is in comfortable playoff position at the end of the season or if they might be fighting for their playoff lives down the stretch in April.