2018 record: 36-46
My beloved Wolves finished 36-46 last year, nowhere near what it took to get into the playoffs in the stacked Western Conference. Towns did his best and did what Towns does, but it wasn’t nearly enough. This was largely due to the fact that Andrew Wiggins remained Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy was shipped out of town. Teague being hurt for half the season didn’t help either.
The Wolves return this year not having made any real noise in the offseason. They did draft Jarrett Culver, so that’s something. Wiggins promised that he’d play more defense and work on his threes, while Towns should take yet another step forward. The stacked Western Conference just got a lot more stacked, so even with a healthy Teague and a bright young prospect, the Wolves will once again be golfing somewhere nice while the NBA playoffs are going on.
There’s talk that the Timberwolves might try to get Culver to play some point, but make no mistake, Jeff Teague is still the man at the PG spot when healthy. He only played in 42 games last year, which put his stock at an all time low. Prior to that, though, he played in 70+ games for 6 straight seasons, so let’s not give him the injury prone tag just yet. He’s always been an elite source of assists and steals, and very low turnovers for a PG. He’s sliding hard in early rankings, so you should be able to get him in the 80s, which would be pretty good value. Yes, he’s turning 31, but he’s been very durable throughout his career, so there’s reason to believe that he will bounce back this year.
Shabazz Napier should see a lot of the backup PG minutes, and should see an instant boost in value should Teague get hurt. He’s not worth drafting in standard leagues, but it’s a situation to keep an eye on.
Assuming the Wolves start Wiggins at SF and Covington at PF, the SG guard starting spot is up for grabs. They might try to see what Josh Okogie can do, or throw Jarrett Culver in right off the bat. Okogie did show some flashes of usefulness last year, but ultimately was not worth owning in standard leagues. Perhaps this year, with more minutes and a consistent role, he could take a step forward. Culver is also a candidate to start, and it could very well be his job to lose. The Wolves reportedly like his well-rounded game and versatility, and are looking to give him opportunities at the point. He’s worth a flier at the end of your draft.
Andrew Wiggins…once carried the hopes and dreams of Canadian basketball fans everywhere. Canadian Lebron? Or is he more like T-Mac 2.0? Sadly, the answer is none of the above. He’s turned himself in a serviceable player in the NBA, but nowhere near the impact and star that he was destined to be. The points are nice, but those FT and FG percentages are just awful. He does chip in with boards, treys, and steals, but he’s still not worthy of being drafted in the top 100.
In years past, it was a good strategy to let the newbs waste their pick and reach for Wiggins, but now everyone’s caught on and he’s rightfully ranked outside of the top 100. With Jimmy gone, and really no one else outside of Towns to be a scoring threat, he should get back to his scoring ways again, with perhaps more treys. However, the inefficiency and lack of other stats keeps him outside of the top 100. Let someone else feel good about picking him late, and pat yourself on the back for being smart enough to know better.
With the departure of Dario Saric, Robert Covington should be the starting PF, and will be everyone’s favorite value pick around the top 40-50. I know I’m alone on this, but I’m not quite convinced that Roco is worth the sleeper hype. Yes, he will likely be a member of the 1-1-1- club, and will be a top-30 asset, but he’s only had one season in which he’s played 80 games. Otherwise he’s been marred by injuries and has not been able to stay on the floor. Maybe this is the year he get’s healthy, and is properly load managed, but I really don’t want to spend a top 40 pick to find out. This early in the draft, I prefer safer picks. Leave Roco for someone else to reach for.
My love for Jokic knows no bounds, but when push come to shove, I’d pick Karl-Anthony Towns. In this era of injuries and load management, there’s no one more durable and consistent than Towns. He’s finished top-3 in overall value the last three seasons, and has only missed five games out of a possible 328. Sure, he’s not quite as sexy a pick as James Harden or Anthony Davis, but he’s as safe as they get and will play a ton of games. The Wolves haven’t really changed much this year, so you can expect yet another boring top-3 finish from Towns. Think long and hard about him if you are fortunate to pick in the top three.
Jordan Bell, Gorgui Dieng, and Noah Vonleh should all battle for PF and C minutes behind Covington and Towns. None will be worth drafting, but it would be worth keeping an eye on them in deeper leagues in case of injury.