The Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves in the throes of a backup point guard dilemma that could have significant implications for their current season and the future of the team. While Mike Conley has performed admirably as the starting point guard, the Wolves face a critical shortage of reliable options in his absence.
Timberwolves' Mike Conley has been outstanding
At 36 years old, Mike Conley has defied age expectations and showcased an impressive level of play as the starting point guard for the Timberwolves, averaging 10.4 points and 6.2 assists on 41.2% three-point shooting. However, the reality is that Conley's age (36) makes it unlikely that he will be available for all 82 games. Given this, the Wolves need a dependable backup option to maintain stability in the backcourt.
Shake Milton has struggled
Shake Milton, thrust into the role of the primary backup due to Jordan McLaughlin's injury, has failed to live up to expectations. In his 16.3 minutes per game, Milton is averaging a mere 5.6 points, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 turnovers. Perhaps more concerning is his career-low shooting percentage of 36.1%, including a paltry 21.6% from beyond the arc. Unlike Conley, Milton has not provided the steady presence needed to lead a struggling second unit, raising questions about his suitability for the role.
What about Jordan McLaughlin?
While Jordan McLaughlin is expected to return from injury in the coming weeks, his ability to fill the void at backup point guard remains uncertain. Coming off an injury-ravaged season where he played in only 43 games, McLaughlin faces the challenge of regaining his full form in a contract year. If he fails to do so, the Timberwolves could find themselves without a reliable alternative to Conley, exacerbating the backup point guard problem.
Compounding the issue is the fact that both Mike Conley and Jordan McLaughlin have expiring contracts this season. The looming question of their future with the team adds an additional layer of uncertainty to the Timberwolves' point guard situation. If the team cannot secure a reliable backup or identify a long-term solution, they risk facing a void at the point guard position in the seasons to come, especially given the financial constraints created by the contracts of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Jaden McDaniels.
This is an issue of the present and future
The Timberwolves' backup point guard problem is a multifaceted challenge that involves the current struggles of Shake Milton, the uncertain return of Jordan McLaughlin, and the contractual ambiguity surrounding all three players. As the team navigates these challenges, finding a solution becomes imperative not only for the success of the current season but also for the long-term stability of the point guard position in Minnesota. In order for this team to be a true contender, it needs a reliable backup point guard who can act as a distributor and shooter to support the second unit. The Wolves may need to explore trade options towards the deadline to ensure they have a reliable plan B when Mike Conley is unavailable. The resolution of this issue will play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of this Timberwolves team, which currently sits in 1st place in the Western Conference.