A MODEST PROPOSAL...
LIMIT TOM THIBODEAU'S DUTIES
If recent league history is any indicator, it's pretty difficult for a team to succeed long-term when the coach and lead front-office decision maker are the same person. The Clippers, Pistons and Hawks have split up those roles in the past year after each saw a short run of success spiral into a future marked by a lack of flexibility and young talent. And while coach and president Tom Thibodeau is one of the most respected defensive minds on the planet, it's time for the Timberwolves to let someone else call the shots.
Trying to win every game and thinking big-picture are often conflicting goals. Thibodeau also deserves a level of criticism, as he continues on an apparent crusade to reunite every single player he coached in Chicago.
The short-term solution is to let Thibs coach, then fish for another front-office hire. The T-Wolves are locked in with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, which should make this season more about their development than immediate results.
Regardless of wins and losses, the Timberwolves can position themselves better for the future by restructuring their org chart. Thibs is admirably strong-willed, but taking a step back from team-building could pay immediate dividends.
COACH TOM THIBODEAU
2017--18 RECORD: 47--35
PREDICTION: Miss playoffs
PG JEFF TEAGUE (58 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
SG JIMMY BUTLER (11 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
PF TAJ GIBSON (84 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
C KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (19 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
SF ANDREW WIGGINS (74 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])
Wiggins saw his scoring average drop by 5.9 points with the arrival of Butler. Wiggins's usage rate also fell from 29.0% to 23.4%.
SF LUOL DENG [NEW ACQUISITION]
PF ANTHONY TOLLIVER DENG [NEW ACQUISITION]
C GORGUI DIENG
(*) NEW ACQUISITION
(#) SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP MINNESOTA
MORE LIKELY than not, they miss the playoffs. Their floor could be pretty low because their roster isn't balanced well positionally and has a lot of holes. They're starting the season with major distractions, too, with JIMMY BUTLER wanting to be traded.... To me, Butler isn't a top 10 player. I like that he commits so hard defensively, but he's very ball-dominant on offense.... Remember when people were really comparing KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS to Anthony Davis? I'll take Davis every day and twice on Sunday.... If I were Tom Thibodeau, I'd run the offense through Towns like Denver does with Nikola Jokić. Towns isn't that kind of a passer, but he's skilled with the ball and just needs to get touches early in every possession. Defensively, he's not a great shot blocker, he's not very physical inside, he doesn't keep the ball in front of him. He has such poor defensive feel.... ANDREW WIGGINS has been so inconsistent and disappointing. I get why Butler was getting impatient with Towns and Wiggins. Wiggins needs to play harder overall and have more force defensively.... I'm worried that Towns and Wiggins will get into a choppy my-turn, your-turn offense. Towns will always be aggressive, and Wiggins just isn't great as a playmaker or ball mover. I think Wiggins's numbers will go up, but that will just be stat-padding.... I don't think Thibodeau can ask JEFF TEAGUE to do much more on offense. He's never been an elite scorer. He's better as a facilitator, a fourth or fifth option running the show. As a third option, I don't love that.