There is a lot to be said for the Minnesota Timberwolves going vertical for the 2022-23 season. With the addition of a 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert, the Minnesota Timberwolves have grown taller at a number of starting positions. The team is now able to slide 6-foot-11 center Karl-Anthony Towns to power forward. That, in turn, allows the team to slide 6-foot-9 power forward Jaden McDaniels to small forward.
It’s the Hermit crab shell experiment, where getting bigger at one position now allows the Timberwolves to get bigger at multiple positions. But . . . what about the need for the Timberwolves to get . . . smaller?
Do the Timberwolves have that small ball lineup built into the team? If they do, what would it look like?
Well, we know that any successful small ball lineup for this team would start with point guard Jordan McLaughlin. Not only does his 5-foot-11 height translate into the right size parameters, but he is an excellent defender and shooter. On the other end of the spectrum, the team would likely place 6-foot-9 Naz Reid in the center position. Two roles filled, three to go.
The Minnesota Timberwolves roster has small ball potential
Taurean Prince makes an excellent power forward for a small ball lineup. He is an excellent defender, has a good shot from the perimeter, and his height of 6-foot-6 certainly places him in the small ball lineup. Three down, two to go.
Bryn Forbes is another excellent choice for this lineup. At an unintimidating height of 6-foot-2, he is a shooting guard who is good at defense and has a solid career of 41.3 percent shooting from long range.
The lynchpin of a small ball lineup is the small forward, and 6-foot-4 Jaylen Nowell would be a great player to round out a small ball five. Nowell is one of the players who is expected to step up in a big way for the team this year, and being a member of the team’s five-man rotation to get small would be a nice litmus test for the young man.
While these five may not strike you as starters, that is not the objective. As the Timberwolves will play a long season, this is more about putting a solid five-man lineup onto the basketball court that can hang tough with smaller NBA rosters, teams like the Golden State Warriors who excel at defense and scoring by playing a smaller roster.
Does size matter in the NBA? Of course, it does. But what matters more is strategy. The Minnesota Timberwolves are betting on setting a new NBA trend by going big. But they have plenty of undersized and under-the-radar talented players on the roster that can scrap and claw as well. I’m not suggesting that the team will decide to downsize for long stretches this season. But if the Timberwolves need to go all small ball to cobble a win or two?
This team has it covered.