By Dastan Haghnazari
Despite Butler’s injury late in the season, Minnesota still found a way to sneak into the playoffs with a close win over Denver for the eight seed in the West. Being the eight seed, the Timberwolves had to play against the Houston Rockets (this year’s best team) in the first round. Minnesota was able to pull out one win out of their five game series against Houston, a somewhat impressive feat for such a young team.
Minnesota had a full line-up, and it was clear that they were a formidable force in their few games. Coach Thibs finally spread some playing time around, whereas starters usually played for 40 minutes or more during the regular season. D-Rose was one of the most impressive players for the Wolves posting series stats of about 70% (7/10) from three and 53% (30/57) from the field with 14.2 points per game, despite coming off of the bench for Minnesota every game. Another key player during the series was Andrew Wiggins; in the past few years, however, many thought of him to be an underdeveloped draft bust. He shot 44% from the field (30/68) and 15.8 points per game, but only posting 33% (7/21) from three-point range. The majority of the other players for Minnesota (including Jimmy Butler and KAT) did not play well during the first few games of the series which ultimately led to Minnesota’s downfall against the Rockets. Inconsistencies and a tough playoff matchup inhibited the Wolves from advancing and winning more games, whereas they would have had a chance if they could have spread the ball around better and made better shot choices when the clock runs low. The bright spot in their loss against the Rockets is that the Timberwolves have found a trustworthy point guard in Derrick Rose in which they can trust to play back-up or possibly even start next season.
In the following seasons, Minnesota needs to target key free agents and make trades in order to improve bench depth and possibly replace some current starters. Although Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins helped the team a lot in the postseason, a “pass-first” point guard may be better suited for the plethora of offensive weapons this Wolves team can put on the floor. One possible trade is Wiggins and Teague for Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs because both Wiggins and Leonard have hinted at leaving their current teams in the off-season. Both teams would benefit greatly in this trade with the Spurs receiving young talent in Teague and Wiggins, and Minnesota would be able to start Rose and add a defensive star in Leonard to their line-up which lacked defensive prowess all season. I have no doubt that in the upcoming seasons this team will be able to advance to the Western Conference Finals and possibly win some Championships with such a young and talented group..