The Minnesota Timberwolves are getting better, but are certainly not ‘there’ just yet. After all, the Timberwolves roster has been rather banged up, leading to the team plummeting due to a six-game losing streak. Even now, the Timberwolves have rebounded of sorts with a four-game winning streak to climb back to within one game of the .500 mark at 20-21 at the midpoint of this season.
But even .500 is a far cry from where the Timberwolves need to be. With the Timberwolves finishing their 2021-22 NBA season with a record of 46-36, that is the bare minimum for the team to close the 2022-23 NBA season at. To achieve that record, the Timberwolves need to play to a 26-15 record the rest of the way.
It’s possible, but it’s not a level of play this team has proven to be able to sustain so far this season. So what is this team missing? Well, a little bit of everything at times, but the team’s greatest need appears to be perimeter shooting and perimeter defense. As of January 9, 2023, the Timberwolves perimeter defense is lagging, allowing opponents to make 36.6 percent of their three-point attempts. That is the 25th-ranked perimeter defense in the NBA right now.
It doesn’t get much better on the offensive side of the basketball court. The Timberwolves are only making 34.4 percent of their perimeter shots right now. That is no better than 20th-ranked in the NBA. So what can be done? Well, we know that veteran guard Bryn Forbes is struggling with the Timberwolves, as his 25 percent shooting from the perimeter is abysmally poor compared to his career mark of better than 40 percent from long range. So The Timberwolves can target upgrading that roster slot with one of three players:
The Philadelphia 76ers have been rumored to be interested in moving SG Furkan Korkmaz’s $5 million salary before the NBA trade deadline. While he is not exactly a sure fire upgrade over Forbes, a package of F Nathan Knight and G Bryn Forbes for Furkan Korkmaz and at least one second-round pick helps out both teams. The 76ers get a veteran perimeter shooter who could be a key asset in the NBA Playoffs. The Timberwolves add a young perimeter shooter in Korkmaz who ideally could benefit from the change of scenery.
But the true value for the Timberwolves is getting at least one or two second-round picks for taking on the more expensive Korkmaz. The Timberwolves may need to add Nathan Knight to the trade to balance salaries, but this remains a viable deal that could be a win-win for both teams.
Free Agent Nik Stauskas is a free-agent shooting guard who has a pretty good perimeter shot and enough perimeter defense to be a player worth considering. He is currently a free agent, but he has played on seven different NBA teams over the course of his career. He holds a career perimeter shot of 35.4 percent, but he shot 40 percent from long range as recently as the 2021-22 NBA season.
Better still, he is worth bringing in on a 10-Day contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves roster to see how he meshes with the Timberwolves’ current roster.
Shooting guard Xavier Moon is currently playing for the Ontario Clippers, the G-League affiliate of the LA Clippers. He is averaging better than 20 PPG, and his perimeter shot is an eye-popping 47.6 for the Ontario Clippers. He did play 10 games for the LA Clippers last season, averaging more than 13 minutes, 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and best of all, scoring 35.7 percent of the time from the perimeter.
He is an intriguing option because he is so promising, is young, and the Minnesota Timberwolves can sign him to a 10-Day contract to see how well he might play for the Timberwolves.