The Minnesota Timberwolves took a big swing last summer when they traded a bunch of picks and some important role players to Utah for Rudy Gobert. His fit with Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt was a bit questionable, but the hope was the 3-time DPOY and the best shooting big man in the league could figure it out on both ends of the floor.
Unfortunately, they never got a chance to spend as much time on court together as hoped, and the results were uneven in the limited action they did get together. As a result, even with a sensational year from Anthony Edwards, the Wolves floundered a bit, ultimately nabbing the 8-seed in the West Play-In before losing to the Nuggets in the first round. This summer has been much quieter in Minnesota, as they’re hoping to benefit from some more continuity and remaining patient until they can see a (hopeful) full season of this group before making any more significant changes. Still, there are some new pieces and additions and we’ll grade out the team’s summer of work as they get set for an important season.
The Timberwolves will need to be creative to add players through the Draft in the coming years given the amount of capital they gave up for Gobert, but they did an excellent job of bringing in some talent despite the lack of a first this year. Leonard Miller from the G League Ignite headlines their second round haul, alongside Jaylen Clark from UCLA who is signed to a two-way. The 6’10 forward popped last year for the Ignite alongside Scoot Henderson and there were plenty of evaluators that put a first round grade on Miller, who averaged a double-double in the G League last season. Getting him at No. 33 in a trade with the Spurs given his upside and potential versatility on the wing certainly seems like a success for the Wolves given what they had to work with coming into the Draft.
Free Agency/Contract Extensions: B-
The Timberwolves didn’t make any groundbreaking moves, but they did solidify their depth this offseason. Their best move was re-signing Naz Reid to an extension prior to free agency opening, locking in one of the best backup bigs in the NBA long-term and providing themselves with a terrific insurance policy for their two star big men should either miss time. Beyond bringing Reid back, they also re-signed Nickeil Alexander-Walker and added Shake Milton and Troy Brown to bolster their guard and wing depth behind Anthony Edwards and Mike Conley Jr. after seeing Taurean Prince and Austin Rivers leave. Overall this will be mostly the team it was a year ago. I do like all four of their main signings from this summer, but they figure to be floor raisers rather than ceiling raisers and this team still hinges on what their stars will do which keeps this grade from being particularly high.
The Wolves didn’t make any trades this summer beyond the Draft night move to acquire Miller, which isn’t surprising given how active they were last summer and at the deadline. A full season of Conley and Towns should be the biggest additions this team gets compared to last year, when they got 24 and 29 games from each, respectively. Edwards continues his rise to superstardom after a big summer with Team USA, and Towns appears to be healthy and in good spirits coming into the season for the first time in a few years, which I think could be very big for this team. How he fits with Gobert is still a question mark and I’m not totally sold it can work to the level they seemingly believed it could when they gave up so much for Rudy, but this should be a better team than last year, even if they weren’t particularly active this offseason.