Timberwolves heading into the 2022-23 season are looking to improve upon their spectacular 2021 season. There was an extremely small pool of analysts coming into the 21’ season that would have expected the Timberwolves to be in the play-in, much less competing in the 1st round. They proved the deniers wrong by beating the Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in tournament and competed with the 2nd seed Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. With that came an All-NBA season from Karl-Anthony Towns and strong performances from the likes of Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverly, Jaden McDaniels, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt. Coming into the 22’ season the Timberwolves are looking to bolster their roster and make a splash in the playoffs.
What do the Timberwolves Lack?
Timberwolves had no shortage of scorers on their roster. Leading the league in 3PM this season. I don’t think anyone would question that the Timberwolves can and will shoot the ball. What people can question is – the Timberwolves’ ability to rebound the ball and make the correct pass. Timberwolves fans saw it all season and the rest of the NBA saw that in the playoffs. Their scoring can win them a lot of games, but if they want to ever to go to the next level they need to tighten up the little things, namely rebounding and passing.
What can the Timberwolves do to Fix Their Problems?
There are two routes the Timberwolves can go to fix their rebounding and passing deficits.
First, they can change the personnel on their roster through either trade or Free Agent signing, check out our top 5 free agents at each position. We can see them moving towards this with the recent hiring of President of Basketball Operations, Tim Connelly, they are looking to improve their decision-making when it comes to roster building decisions with the guy who drafted back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokic.
Second, they can draft talent, develop their current roster, and coach better habits into the players. In the post-season interviews, Chris Finch all season was hinting at needing more from his guys.
When watching the Timberwolves, you can tell that they suffered sometimes from their 3-headed monster of KAT, Ant, and Dlo playing hero ball. Regardless of if they choose the roster change approach, these 3 leaders need to change their approach to the game for this roster to be a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. Below we will explore these options further.
How can the Timberwolves Improve their Roster?
Coming into the 22’ season Free Agency, the Timberwolves are primarily looking to deepen their strength at the Center position. While the Timberwolves have All-NBA 3rd Team, All-Star, and 3-point champion Karl-Anthony Towns (’22 season), his backups, Naz Reid and Jarred Vanderbilt, are serviceable, but severely lacking in one aspect or another of playing “big man”. Jarred Vanderbilt cannot shoot the basketball outside of the restricted zone. Naz Reid cannot rebound effectively or play sufficient defense. Chris Finch was quoted saying
You can feel the frustration in his voice, this is not a new problem for Naz and it will be something he needs to figure out. Both of these players are also undersized. While both of these guys could improve on these skills over their offseason, the Timberwolves’ window to win is now and they need to take advantage.
The most straightforward way the Timberwolves can address their issues is through Free Agency. The Timberwolves do not have a lot of wiggle room coming into Free Agency, meaning they need to look for value. One name that we love for the Timberwolves to scoop up in free agency is Isaiah Hartenstein.
What does Isaiah Hartenstein Bring to the Timberwolves?
Isaiah Hartenstein had a semi-breakout 21’ season for the Clippers. Coming off the bench behind Zubac averaging 8.3/4.9/2.4. Hartenstein towards the end of the season showed flashes of being a very-much-so Jokic-lite this past season. He brought rebounding, defense, playmaking, and decent scoring tools too. We think this would be a perfect fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves roster. He won’t provide you with game-breaking spurts of offense or defense, but he is very consistent on both ends and knows his role on his team, which the Timberwolves could really benefit from in their 2022-23’ season.
How can the Timberwolves Develop their Current Roster?
While the Timberwolves have a strong veteran presence with the likes of KAT, DLo, and especially Patrick Beverly, they are a very young team, 3rd youngest in the NBA. With that youth, comes a lot of opportunity for growth and boy do some of the players on the Timberwolves roster need to grow, including those veterans. Some of these youthful players, that were mentioned already, Jarred Vanderbilt and Naz Reid, will need to improve if they want to keep their playing time. Jarred Vanderbilt, namely. While Vanderbilt is an amazing defender, hustler, and rebounder, his lack of shooting affects the Timberwolves roster too much to outweigh his benefits. His lack of shooting lets opposing teams exploits matchups and exposes more opportunities for double teams on KAT. If Vanderbilt can improve this aspect of his game, Timberwolves can quickly become one of the best teams in the NBA in my opinion. That is a big “if” though. Developing these young players to fit specific roles that the Timberwolves need is essential if the Timberwolves want a successful 22’ season.
One other way the Timberwolves can develop their roster is by changing how their best players play. Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Dangelo Russell are all guilty of being selfish with the basketball and playing hero-ball late in games. Going back to that quote from Chris Finch, saying it was too engrained in their brains for it to be fixed this previous season. This issue killed them far too many times and was all too evident in the playoffs as well. If the Timberwolves want to close out hard-fought games, these 3 stars need to be able to get the offense moving and not become a black hole when it gets moved to them.
Which Approach Should the Timberwolves Take?
Well in an ideal world the Timberwolves will look to take both approaches. This would be the most effective way of improving the Timberwolves roster for this coming season, but with limited resources and relying on things multiple things going right it seems more likely for one or the other approaches to happen. We also can’t forget about the Timberwolves’ draft pick at #19. It is up in the air what they will do with the draft pick, but expect them to pick the best available player there.
Things are looking bright in Minnesota, Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels are shaping up to be two of the best young faces in the league, and Timberwolves fans have a lot to look forward to.