How well did Timberwolves front office fix bench play?

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

From the moment that the Minnesota Timberwolves players began to fall to injuries throughout the 2022-23 NBA season, the Timberwolves roster had to rob the team’s bench to reinforce starters.  That cannibalization to ensure an optimal starting rotation played havoc with the Timberwolves bench strength.

Per, the Minnesota Timberwolves bench performance in the 2022-23 NBA season was ranked 14th out of 30 NBA teams.  While that is not disastrous, it was far worse for the team early in the season when the Timberwolves roster was fighting through simultaneous injuries to PF Karl-Anthony Towns, PF Taurean Prince, PG Jordan McLaughlin, and the mixture of other minor injuries to Rudy Gobert, D’Angelo Russell, and Kyle Anderson.

So many injuries to key players in both starting and rotational roles forced the Timberwolves roster to lean into and exhaust the team’s other players. Ultimately, the Timberwolves struggled to remain healthy and rested as a result of not having a healthy roster for much of the 2022-23 NBA season.

So what did the Timberwolves do to reinforce the bench for the 2023-24 NBA season?

  • 2022-23    Player     Position     PPG          2022-23   Player                Position   Proj PPG
  • Taurean Prince          PF                 9.1             Troy Brown Jr.                     PF                9.0
  • Naz Reid                     C                   11.5            Naz Reid                               C                12.0
  • Jordan McLaughlin   PG                  3.7            Shake Milton                       PG               8.4
  • Kyle Anderson           SF                  9.4            Kyle Anderson                      SF              10.0
  • Jaylen Nowell            SG                 10.8           Nickeil Alexander Walker  SG              10.0

Of course, we cannot be as certain about projected numbers as historic performances. But the fact that both Naz Reid and Kyle Anderson are projected to return to the Timberwolves roster in a primary bench role is huge for the Timberwolves’ bench projections for the 2023-24 NBA season.

Kyle Anderson started 46 games for the Timberwolves last season, while Naz Reid started 11 games for the team. Even if the Timberwolves did nothing more than limit their combined starts to 30 games, that places both players on the bench for nearly 30 more games in the 2023-24 NBA season, which will be a huge boost to their ability to score points this season.

But even beyond the basic backups, the Timberwolves have a stronger and theoretically deeper bench this year. Both rookies from last season: SG Wendell Moore Jr. and PF Josh Minott, have an NBA season under their belts. And the team has added two rookies SG Jaylen Clark (injured) and F Leonard Miller who are expected to contribute as they come online.

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The Timberwolves starting roster is expected to remain healthier this season than last season. But even if injuries do happen, the Timberwolves bench play should remain strong this season.