2019-2020 Record: 19-45
The Minnesota Timberwolves were one of the worst teams in the NBA last season, finishing 14th in the Western Conference. The front office decided to make some major moves at the trade deadline, bringing in D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangómez in two separate deals in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, Jordan Bell, Keita-Bates Diop, and draft picks. These acquisitions have Timberwolves fans very excited about the upcoming season, as they enter the season with a young roster that can compete for a playoff spot.
The Timberwolves bring back Ryan Saunders as their head coach and Scott Layden as their GM, making no changes from last season in part due to the massive fluctuation their roster had. Only Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie played in more than 60 games last season. Saunders brings fast-paced, offense-first basketball, with the T-Wolves ranking 4th in pace last season, which should be a boon for their fantasy prospects.
The T-Wolves will bet on Russell and Towns forming a dynamic duo to lead their team over a full season. With more continuity, their stars staying healthy, and improvements on the defensive end, the T-Wolves could contend for a playoff spot this season.
D’Angelo Russell will be the main point guard for the Timberwolves, as he is one of the great young stars in today’s NBA. Last season, he put up top 60 value in both points and category leagues, averaging 23.1 PTS and 6.3 AST along with 3.5 3PM. What is holding Russell back from becoming an elite fantasy asset is his lack of efficiency. His shooting splits last season were 42/37/80, and he has never been an efficient scorer at any point during his career thus far. Playing with KAT should help somewhat in improving this, as this will be the first time in DLo’s career that he is not the primary scoring option on his team, taking some of the pressure and defense’s attention off him. Russell should be a top 50 pick in all formats with a very slight boost in points leagues. Despite his issues with efficiency, the volume will be there and he’ll provide great counting stats for your team.
Ricky Rubio will presumably be backing up Russell for this season. Rubio has been tossed around this offseason, starting with the Suns, getting traded to the Thunder for Chris Paul, and then getting traded to the T-Wolves as part of a larger deal. Rubio is a player who flies under the radar but he has posted a top 75 finish in four out of the last five seasons. However, this will be the first time in Rubio’s career that he will be coming off the bench. He is still worth a mid-round pick in redraft leagues due to his elite assists and steals. The T-Wolves may also play him heavily in two point-guard lineups with Russell sliding over to SG, so Rubio still will have a big role on the team.
The T-Wolves have options at shooting guard, but all of them come with major question marks heading into next season. Malik Beasley, who the team just re-signed for 4 years/$60M, is one of those options. Beasley was a talented player oozing with potential during his time with the Nuggets, but he was never able to find an opening in the rotation to get playing time. He found that opening with the T-Wolves, averaging 20.7 PPG with an elite eFG% of 57.7%. I don’t expect him to continue this rate of production playing as the third option in the offense, but I can see him settling in at somewhere around 15-17 PPG. Unfortunately, Beasley does not offer much outside of 3PM and PTS, so his potential in category leagues is limited. I wouldn’t draft him inside the top 100 for next season, but he is a great late-round flier with a boost in points leagues. Keep an eye on him during the offseason though, as due to charges of drug possession and threats of violence Beasley could potentially miss games.
The other option at shooting guard for the T-Wolves is the 2020 NBA Draft #1 overall pick Anthony Edwards, who has an NFL body and can score at all three levels of the court. He also is a projectable defender due to his elite athleticism and 6’ 9” wingspan. However, Edwards struggled with efficiency in college, with shooting splits of 40/29/77. I have faith in Edwards to improve these splits in the NBA. Edwards started focusing on basketball full-time in his sophomore year of high school, so he is still learning how to play the game. His shot selection will improve with NBA coaching, which will help him improve those splits and harness his physical gifts. Additionally, Edwards played on a very bad Georgia team that only had one other player who scored above 10 PTS, allowing the defense to focus almost entirely on him. Playing with NBA stars in KAT and DLo will allow Edwards to have more room to create his own shot. If Edwards does improve his efficiency and defense, he could end up as a Donovan Mitchell-type player who is elite around the rim, a good shooter, and provides value on both ends of the court. If not, he could be the next Dion Waiters, a player who can create his own shot and get a bucket but can’t really do much else. Due to how raw and inefficient he is, Edwards has the one of the widest ranges of outcomes among this draft class.
The projected starting small forward for the T-Wolves is defensive specialist Josh Okogie. Unfortunately, his real-life defensive value does not translate into elite stocks production in fantasy. He also does not give much offensive production with just 8.6 PTS, and a 42.7 FG%, so despite the large role he has had in the team he will not have much fantasy production. Okogie seems to be the odd man out in the T-Wolves future plans, as the last two top picks the T-Wolves have had have been spent on wing players. Even though I have projected him to be the team’s starting small forward, I wouldn’t be surprised if the T-Wolves play Edwards at SF later on in the season with Russell and Beasley in the backcourt. Okogie will play because he is far and away the best defensive wing on the team, but don’t draft him in your leagues.
Backing up Okogie will be Jarrett Culver, a young prospect who did not have a good season in his first taste of the NBA last year. Culver was the 6th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after leading Texas Tech to the NCAA national championship game that season. The offensive abilities he showed in college haven’t translated to the NBA, as he averaged just 9.2 PTS and 1.7 AST last season on 40/30/46 shooting splits. Culver is being held back by his awful shooting, as defenses don’t have to respect his jumper and can take away the rest of his game. Heading into next season, I wouldn’t draft Culver in redraft in a 10-12 team league, but he is someone to stash in dynasty and to keep an eye on if he can make a second-year jump. I’m not high on his chances of doing so, as Culver is a player who needs the ball in his hands often to be effective due to his subpar shooting, but that won’t happen with DLo now playing heavy minutes. For fantasy, owners should hope he either gets traded (which is a very real possibility) or becomes a point forward for the bench unit.
Juan Hernangómez will be the T-Wolves’ starting PF heading into next season after signing a 3 yr/$21M deal during free agency. Like Beasley, Hernangómez did not get much playing time with the Nuggets, but he blossomed once traded to the T-Wolves. In 14 games with the team, he put up 12.9 PTS, 7.3 REB, and 2 3PM shooting 40% from behind the arc. While he was very impressive in the limited number of games he played with the T-Wolves, I don’t expect his production to continue this upcoming season. Those games were largely without KAT, and the addition of Edwards will cut into the opportunities for Hernangómez even more. Don’t draft him in standard redraft leagues, as what he did in those 14 games isn’t sustainable going forward.
The T-Wolves are very thin when it comes to backup big men, with Jake Layman and 1st round pick Jaden McDaniels possible options for the PF off the bench. I would stay as far away as possible from these guys, unless you’re in a deep dynasty league, in which case I’d recommend taking a late flier on McDaniels due to his immense upside. Don’t expect to get an immediate return on your investment though.
And now it’s time to praise the fantasy demigod that is Karl-Anthony Towns. Where else can you find a center that makes 3 threes a game on 40% shooting, gets double-digit rebounds, and scores 25 points a game? KAT does everything on the court, and his real-life subpar defense doesn’t hurt him in fantasy, as he still provides great stocks value. To give you a sense of how incredible KAT’s talents are, last season when he only played 35 games he was still a top 75 player in terms of total value according to basketballmonster.com. It gets even better, as now the T-Wolves have paired KAT with his best friend Russell. I don’t need to tell you anymore about how special KAT is, so draft KAT top 5 in all formats with confidence. He has no weakness in fantasy and has played at least 75 games in four out of five career seasons, so he is a dependable option as well.
Behind KAT is Naz Reid, an undersized center who broke onto the scene in March while KAT was injured. Reid is a very well rounded player, with the ability to knockdown threes while getting a lot of rebounds and blocking shots. However, there won’t be too many minutes available for him due to KAT’s presence. A realistic outcome for him this season looks somewhat similar to his February numbers, where he averaged 9.8 PTS and 4.3 REB with 18.4 MP. Take a late flyer on him in a dynasty league based on the potential he showed in March, but I would stay away from him for now in redraft.