There is still plenty of games left for all 30 teams in the NBA. But it’s never too soon to look at what will be on the free agent market once July 1 rolls around.
For the Minnesota Timberwolves, I feel they are just a few moves away from contending for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
There are a few lingering questions on Minnesota’s roster, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer every game that it is developing its very own version of The Big Three. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine are three young, but developing and rising stars in this league.
Towns has shown himself to be animal on both ends of the floor in his very first season. He has a very smooth offensive game, and can score from inside and outside. He looks to be a pillar for the Timberwolves’ franchise for the future.
Wiggins has developed into a very good, efficient scorer in his second season. He is averaging over 20 points per game and has shown the ability to get to the free-throw line and is much more consistent with his jumper. His defense really needs to pick up, and he should be grabbing more rebounds and handing out more assists. He just turned 21. There is room to grow, but it should happen sooner than later.
LaVine might turn out to be the best of the bunch, though. His athleticism is off the charts. His ability to hit three-pointers, make shots off-the-dribble, and get to the hoop is becoming a regular thing. His defense and passing ability really need to improve, though. He has enough quickness and athleticism, along with his length, to become a very good defender.
Besides those three players, Minnesota has had some other emerging players this season. Gorgui Dieng has taken many steps forward, Shabazz Muhammad has been healthy and provides a lot of energy, and Tyus Jones might become a very serviceable backup-borderline starter in this league.
The biggest questions with this team and roster is Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio. Both are making a combined $24.8 million per year, and both have a few years left on their contracts.
Provided the team gets a new coach, I would like to see Minnesota go after some big names in July. Here are few.
- Kevin Durant — It’ll be a significant stretch. Who knows if he even wants to leave Oklahoma City, but if he does, why not come to Minnesota? The roster has a ton of promise, and a superstar like Durant would immediately make Minnesota a top four team in the West. Imagine a fourth-quarter lineup of: Towns, Dieng, Durant, Wiggins, and LaVine. Boy, that would be something.
- Al Horford — Minnesota lacks depth in the frontcourt, and Horford would bring a variety of things to the team. He will be 30 in June, but he is still a quality big man who can stretch the floor, defend, rebound, and pass. He would fit in just about any offense in the league. A lineup with Horford and Towns would be special, and possible. Both players play on the Dominican Republic National Team. But who knows if that bond will put the Wolves in front of teams that are contending.
- Hassan Whiteside — It’s probably a 99.9 percent possibility that Miami locks up Whiteside as soon as free agency starts, but his attitude and focus have come into question recently. However, I think a Whiteside-Towns combo would be comparable to a great pass-rush in football. How many shots a night would those two block? The chances of pairing these two together are as long as Whiteside’s arms.
Other’s to consider: Evan Turner, Arron Afflalo, Ryan Anderson, Mike Conley, Marreese Speights.