3 Timberwolves who earned untouchable status, 2 who could be cut loose

This past season, several players in Minnesota cemented their role for the future, while others became more expendable.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Minnesota Timberwolves
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Minnesota Timberwolves / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The Minnesota Timberwolves may not have won an NBA championship in 2024, but they still went home on May 30 after their Game 5 defeat with plenty to take heart in. They proved many of their doubters wrong by becoming a contender while starting multiple big men, forming the best defensive team in the NBA and finishing with their second-most regular season wins in franchise history.

There is still plenty for Wolves fans to be excited about looking ahead to next season and beyond. The otherworldly talent of Anthony Edwards only continues to shine brighter, and now Minnesota will have one deep playoff run under their belts as they look to pursue the NBA mountaintop.

Another positive from this past season is the fact that we now have an even greater sample size to evaluate the big-picture performance of each player on the roster. Several players cemented themselves as unquestioned rotation players and important pieces going forward, while others took a step back and may be more expendable.

Untouchable: Nickeil Alexander-Walker

One player who absolutely showed themselves to be a crucial part to the Wolves' puzzle in the long run is Nickeil Alexander-Walker. This may very well have been the most unexpected name to end up on this side of the list, given that NAW was essentially just the throw-in piece in the Mike Conley trade included to get the deal done.

Now, Alexander-Walker stands out as one of Minnesota's most irreplaceable perimeter players. His stifling defense was on full display in the playoffs, as he hounded opposing point guards and wings alike. Who could forget the viral clips from the conference semifinals where the world saw how he made life miserable for a talent like Jamal Murray?

Alongside Jaden McDaniels, Nickeil has now become one of the Wolves' top difference-makers when it comes to perimeter defense. He also stepped up as a spot-up shooter in 2023-24, knocking down a career-high 45.2% of his corner three-point shots. NAW will undoubtedly be due for a pay increase at the end of next season.