The NBA is a league driven by talent and potential. Drafting young players with promising futures is a crucial part of any team’s strategy. To that point, the Minnesota Timberwolves are no exception. However, the limited playing time afforded to second-year power forward Josh Minott and shooting guard Wendell Moore Jr., two players selected in the 2022 NBA Draft, is certainly concerning given the draft capital used to acquire them.
In this article, I will explore why it is imperative for the Timberwolves to provide these talented prospects with a genuine opportunity to prove their worth and avoid squandering their potential value.
Maximizing Draft Investment
Draft picks are valuable assets that the Wolves cannot afford to waste given their limited draft capital. If the Timberwolves fail to give Minott and Moore Jr. a chance to prove themselves, these picks risk becoming wasted opportunities. Young players either wilt on the bench or grow with a gradual increase in playing time.
By providing them with meaningful playing time, the team can measure their abilities, assess their fits, and determine their long-term value to the team. Even if they don’t crack the regular rotation, the development of these players increases their trade value and could benefit the Wolves in deals down the line.
Depth and Versatility
A well-rounded roster is crucial for success in the NBA. There were definitely occasions when the Timberwolves roster could have used an extra perimeter defender or an extra rebounder off the bench last season, particularly in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. By incorporating Minott and Moore Jr. into the rotation, the Timberwolves can strengthen the depth of their bench while simultaneously improving the versatility of both players.
Both players possess unique skill sets that could provide a much-needed boost to the team’s second unit. Minott’s athleticism and defensive prowess, combined with Moore Jr.’s defensive ability and basketball IQ could prove to be valuable assets in different game situations.
Given the team’s tight cap situation, particularly in light of the new CBA, it is very important to find and sign contributors on affordable rookie-scale contracts. With young players like Moore Jr. and Minott, the Timberwolves can significantly enhance their financial flexibility. The Timberwolves roster must balance highly compensated players with affordable players.
These cost-effective additions to the rotation can allow the team to allocate their cap space more efficiently around the large contracts of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Anthony Edwards, and can be the difference to allow future opportunities to sign or trade for new players. The financial benefits of utilizing young talent cannot be overstated, especially with the contracts of veteran point guard Mike Conley Jr. and forward Kyle Anderson expiring after next season. The Wolves should be looking to leverage the advantage of rookie scale contracts to maximize their resources.
Reflecting on Coaching
Timberwolves’ head coach Chris Finch ultimately decides who plays and in which rotational roles players will appear during the games. It’s unfortunate that neither Minott nor Moore Jr. were able to get minutes last season. Thankfully, both players did rotate to the G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, where both performed very well.
Still, the way forward seems pretty simple. The Timberwolves should expect that both Minott and Moore Jr. will have developed into rotational players this season. If they aren’t good enough, they should be cycled through the Iowa Wolves until a suitable trade partner is identified.
It reflects poorly on the coaching staff if draft picks (especially players who are chosen in Round 1) waste away on the bench while their trade value diminishes. The responsibility lies with Coach Finch and his staff to recognize and provide these players with the necessary support and playing time to thrive. If they are not improving, then the more difficult task of communicating with the front office that it’s time to move on before it’s too late. That shortcoming is what led to the Timberwolves ultimately deciding to trade away wing Jarrett Culver.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a unique opportunity to leverage the talent of their young second-year players. Playing time, like trust, must be given to be earned. By affording Moore Jr. and Minott meaningful playing time this season, the team can nurture their development, capitalize on their potential, add depth to the roster, and showcase the coaching staff’s ability to cultivate young talent.
It is crucial for the Timberwolves to give both players a fair chance to prove their worth and avoid the risk of squandering valuable draft picks. It’s time to fish or cut bait, and in doing so realize that if either player is not good enough to contribute now, the team needs to move on quickly to recoup value. These two young players have had a year to build up to the NBA level. Now, it’s time to see what they can do.