After a lackluster conclusion to their 2019-20 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves will have a long offseason ahead to prepare for next year.
Aside from a postseason appearance as the eight-seed in the 2018 playoffs, the Minnesota Timberwolves have not seen much success in recent memory. The franchise has become a revolving door of players, as the team has gone through significant roster changes regularly over the past few seasons.
The 2019-20 season was no exception, as after starting the season out 5-0, the team went downhill and revamped their roster entirely. Minnesota finished as the Western Conference’s 14-seed with an awful 19-45 record before it got announced they would not participate in the NBA’s resumption of play this season.
As disappointing as their season was, the Timberwolves could have a bright future ahead, depending on how they handle things this offseason.
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A large part of their demise this season was the vast amount of injuries that star Karl-Anthony Towns suffered. The center was in the midst of a career year with the Timberwolves despite the injuries, as he averaged 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. With all of this extended time off due to their early exit this season, Towns could undoubtedly be back to full strength next season.
Due to the injuries, Towns hardly got to build any on-court chemistry with longtime friend, and now teammate D’Angelo Russell, whom the team acquired midseason. Still, both he and Towns are secured long-term, and will certainly continue to build that chemistry moving forward.
With those two staying put for several years, the team needs to make their offseason focus on doing the same with Malik Beasley. The 23-year-old came over midseason from the Denver Nuggets as an average role player that averaged 7.9 points per game on a $1.9 million contract.
Beasley came out firing for Minnesota as he averaged 20.7 points per game in 14 appearances with the team. Set to hit restricted free agency this summer, the Timberwolves need to lock up the guard to be that third piece alongside Towns and Russell.
Because of the injuries suffered between the three, Towns, Russell, and Beasley only shared the court once this season. With all three of the trio averaging over 20 points per game with the Wolves, they could be a lethal offensive team when healthy.
As good as the team’s offense could be, the defense could still be problematic. Towns and Russell are not good defenders by any stretch of the imagination, which could hamper them down the road. Regardless, if Towns and Russell can play at least average defense and dynamic offense, they could be in good hands.
Their current roster aside, the Timberwolves could also make some noise in the upcoming NBA Draft slated to take place in October. Minnesota will have their own first-round draft selection, projected to be very high in the lottery, but also the Brooklyn Nets’ pick, barring the Nets do not fall out of the playoff picture. With the potential to bolster their roster with two more promising pieces, the Timberwolves could make some substantial additions this summer.
With a seemingly promising offseason ahead, could it be enough to help Minnesota take that next step as a postseason team? Likely not.
What Minnesota needs is time. As good as the trio of Towns, Russell, and Beasley sounds on paper, they have only played one game together. Towns and Russell could absolutely become one of the league’s most stellar young duos, with Beasley being that third star to compliment them. However, they need time to prove it, and even if they can, this team is still utterly inexperienced.
After all of their roster moves this season, the Minnesota Timberwolves were the youngest team in the league, full of inexperience. Adding potentially two more rookies through the draft could help in the long run, but not immediately.
Given their roster is at full strength and they potentially add a few more young pieces, the Timberwolves could improve from their position this season, but the playoffs still seem to be a stretch. This young roster needs time to develop, and they do not appear ready to contend with the best just yet.
That is not a knock on the Timberwolves, just a testament to how loaded the Western Conference is with talent from top to bottom. Expecting the Minnesota Timberwolves to be legitimate postseason contenders would be wishful thinking, but give it a few more years before it comes to fruition.
The team is currently a work in progress that, on paper, has a very promising future ahead as they appear to be on the right track.