Is it time for the Timberwolves to sit starters in preseason games?

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves are showing a lot of mid-season form so far as they have amassed three wins in three games in the 2023 preseason games so far. It’s a bit surprising because even in the heart of the 2022-23 NBA season, the Timberwolves seemed to be clumsily tossed together, an awkwardness that seemed to prevail until the team was able to shed D’Angelo Russell and retrofit veteran point guard Mike Conley Jr.

Then, and only then, did the Timberwolves appear to gel like all 29 other NBA teams.

Still, that certainly does not seem to be the case this season, does it?  Well, not as far as what we’ve witnessed from the Timberwolves roster so far. We have seen dominating performances from the Minnesota Timberwolves starting five. We have seen Shake Milton play as though he has been contributing for many months on the Timberwolves roster. Even backup center Naz Reid is already making a strong case for NBA Sixth-Man Of The Year honors with his inspiring performances from the Timberwolves bench.

So it now comes down to, when is preseason enough?

Two more games to solidify the Timberwolves roster

The Minnesota Timberwolves (3-0) have two games remaining in their 2023 preseason schedule. On October 17, the Timberwolves will face Maccabi Ra’Anana’s team. Who are Maccabi Ra’anana?

Maccabi Ra’anana, a basketball team that began in 1980, is an Israeli National League basketball team. The team competes in Ra’anana, Israel, which is just north of Tel Aviv, Israel. If you haven’t been following along, the Israeli National League is a second-tier league that consists of 15 teams. By continuing to compete against NBA teams this preseason, the goal is to provide hope for many Israeli citizens who have suffered great losses in recent days.

Following that contest at Target Center, the Minnesota Timberwolves finish up the 2023 preseason schedule with a game on the road to face the Chicago Bulls (1-2).

NBA rules have changed for the 2023-24 NBA season, and that will severely limit the Timberwolves’ ability to rest key starters Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Mike Conley Jr. That could pose problems for the Timberwolves, as even minor bumps, bruises, sprains, and strains will need to be documented and paperwork submitted to the NBA to qualify any of the four players named for any downtime this season.

Timberwolves’ time is limited

Even with the Timberwolves roster benching SF Jaden McDaniels due to a lower calf strain, and the continuing rehab which continues for rookie SG Jaylen Clark following an Achilles Tendon injury, the Timberwolves rotations have had limited success in affording playing time to many of the young players who are vying for a role either with the Minnesota Timberwolves or in a future assignment to the Timberwolves G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves.

Timberwolves Two-Way contract forward Matt Ryan saw no action against the New York Knicks in the Timberwolves third preseason game. Exhibit 10 contract players Vit Krejci, Tyese Martin, and Trevor Keels have only played limited minutes in one preseason game so far. Even Exhibit 10 shooting guard Daishen Nix, who has appeared in two preseason games for the Timberwolves, has only played 9.0 minutes.

Even Timberwolves’ lone rookie, forward Leonard Miller, has only competed for a total of 29 minutes over the course of three preseason contests. Once the regular season starts, opportunities for younger players will simply vanish. That all boils down to reason enough to begin weaning starters and key rotational players back to 10 minutes per game and elevating the duration of younger players to allow their development.

The Timberwolves have proven to be ready for business when the 2023-24 NBA season begins. Now, the team should ease off the accelerator, and save energy for the start of the long 82-game season.

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