By: Peter Christian and David Kay
2009-2010 Season Summary:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a plethora of holes to fill before they can even think about sniffing the playoffs. They are coming off a season in which they expected to suck and hoped to develop their young talent. For now, let’s say they went one for two. They finished with the 2nd worst record in the NBA with only 15 wins and were dead last in point differential with a pretty embarrassing -9.6 points per game. They also finished at the bottom of the league in turnovers per game with more than 16/game.
The Timberwolves go-to player, Al Jefferson, saw his production drop rather drastically. Big Al poured in 23.1 points/game and grabbed nearly 11 rebounds/game in 2008-09, but this past season those stats dropped to 17.1 and 9.3 in the new Triangle offense that Kurt Rambis brought to the team.
Meanwhile, Kevin Love and Corey Brewer both improved on their previous season’s numbers but only marginally and nowhere near what the Timberwolves need out of them to be competitive. Johnny Flynn also had a respectable rookie year but he will need to greatly improve to be worth the wager the team put on him last summer.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Ryan Hollins/*Nathan Jawai
PF: Al Jefferson/Kevin Love
SF: Ryan Gomes
SG: Corey Brewer/Wayne Ellington
PG: Jonny Flynn/Ramon Sessions
PF-Brian Cardinal (UFA)
C-Darko Milicic (UFA)
SF-Damian Wilkins (UFA)
PF-Oleksy Pecherov (UFA)
SG-Aleksandar Pavlovic (UFA)
F/C-*Nathan Jawai (QO)
’10-’11 Team Salary: approximately $33.9 million
’10-’11 Expected League Salary Cap: $56.1 million
#2 (tentatively), #16, #23, #45, #56
#1 Wing Scorer
Currently the roster dictates that the Timberwolves need to use Corey Brewer as a scorer/slasher from the wing and while he made leaps and bounds with his offensive game this season, he isn’t the ideal option that any NBA team wants to use in that role. At face value this need seems like a square hole to Evan Turner’s perfectly shaped square peg. He can step in immediately to be the player the Timberwolves need. It’s also possible they try and fill this hole through free agency. Regardless of how they address the need, one thing is certain, it needs to be addressed.
#2 Defensive Center
The Timberwolves got absolutely slaughtered in the paint last season as they were lacking a defensive presence in the lane to alter or block shots. Al Jefferson has proven he can’t be a true center in the NBA because he can’t cover the opposing team’s center to save his life, which meant that Al was then forced to defend against a power forward which was equally as ugly. If the Wolves can add a player with some defensive presence in the paint they can work on reducing that 9.6 point/game deficit they faced last season.
#3 Bench Depth
It was no secret that last year’s team was obviously rebuilding and therefore they were at times very over matched. The result was budding young players like Flynn, Ellington, Brewer and Love getting extended playing time where on a competitive team those 4 would have been asked to be role players in limited minutes. However with that situation, the players lower than them on the pecking order are pretty bad by nature. If the Timberwolves are going to adhere to David Kahn’s 3 year rebuilding plan they are going to have to add some focused talent on the bench. They need someone to be able to come off the bench and hit open shots, they need someone that can step in and play defense if someone gets into foul trouble, they need someone who is comfortable with playing limited minutes but has the ability to extend beyond their normal minutes if a player is struggling. With 5 draft picks and plenty of cap space, the Wolves need some crafty scouting and some solid negotiating to bring in the talent the team NEEDS to turn things around in Minnesota.
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