Let’s begin with this: As a fanbase, we may have lost sight of what is important.
As much as we want to make these final weeks of the season feel significant for what the future Minnesota Timberwolves will look like — and to some extent they are — to do so is to ignore the current reality: The Wolves are 13.5 games out of the last play-in spot. Open your eyes, my friends. These are futile times.
With that in mind, I would like to offer a futile exercise.
Watching Minnesota play the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat in the same week earlier this month got me thinking: What former Wolves would fit best on this current roster? Not to bring back via trade, but to add them to the current rotation.
I can hear your thoughts: “The Timberwolves acquiring players by what sounds a lot like free agency? This guy has lost his marbles.”
I know, but allowing the mind to wander — to dream, is a healthy exercise, especially for the downtrodden.
The parameters for this exercise are as follows:
- Players traded after the 2015 draft are eligible.
- I’ll only be dealing with traded players, not draft picks, which means no griping about the upside of Lauri Markennan, no matter how buff he is looking these days.
- These are “fit” rankings, based on what the team needs, primarily shooting, defense, and (how on earth did we get here?) power forwards.
- Current contract sizes don’t matter.
- I will also not be putting any thought into the circumstances under which the Wolves traded the player in the first place — no prizes to anyone who can guess why that is important.
Before we get into this, please don’t take me to task about some of the players that are higher up on the list. I’m acting as a juice bar here, attempting to make something good out of some pretty bad fruit.
18. Chase Budinger
I have nothing to say about Chase, other than that his name sounds like a fictional jock character in a high school sports movie. Something like High School Musical.
17. Jacob Evans
I am unsure if I could pick Jacon Evans out of a lineup. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t get minutes for the Wolves, you might be short of time in the league.
16. Treveon Graham
The ‘three and D’ prototype got Treveon Graham paid. The only problem was he couldn’t shoot the three…
15. Omari Spellman
I was actually keen to see what Omari Spellman could do at power forward last year. He had that Warriors shine on him, but it wasn’t to be.
14. Justin Patton
As much as the team needs more big men, the Wolves don’t need more projects, especially ones who can’t shoot.
13. Jordan Bell
Read the above statement about Omari Spellman, followed by the above statement about Justin Patton.
12. Jeff Teague
You hate to do this to Big League, but the dream appears to be over.
11. Shabazz Napier
Sorry ‘Bazz, have you met Jordan? He’s our short guy now.
10. Noah Vonleh
Noah Vonleh is probably the first player on this list who could help the Wolves if he were to be on the roster again. The man is a wall.
9. Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn turned into a genuine on-ball stopper, and the Wolves can never say no to some defense, but it’s hard to see how he would fit into the guard rotation unless he could shoot it.
Great locker room guy and generally fun AF. I wouldn’t say no to the vet’s minimum if there were an open roster spot.
7. Gorgui Dieng
Oh, Gorgui, I miss you.
It’s funny to think how much of a big deal was made about Gorgui’s contract. He got bought out and ended up on the San Antonio Spurs. It would be fun to have that slow-release jumper back in Minny. The reality is he was bought out for a reason, and the Wolves have the Nazmanian Devil now.
It sucks to ask, but tell me, would you rather have Jarret Culver or KBD on the roster? Yep.
My biggest pet peeve is when people try to tell me that Andrew Wiggins is so much better now that he plays for Golden State. I’ve watched it, and it’s the same. He’s just living the dream of playing next to the chef.
Still, there’s plenty he could do to help on the team in this current iteration. Imagine him cutting to the hoop in that second unit with DLo. Also, loving the DLo second unit experiment. Can we keep it?
4. Dario Saric
What would we do to have a 4 who can shoot and pass the ball like Dario? Would you trade Jarrett Culver for that?
*** Sorry for the Culver slander. It really should be directed at Gersson Rosas and co.
I had a dream about Roco and Ant patrolling the lanes on defense, intercepting passes left and right while also picking up DLo’s slack the other night, only to wake up to find out the Wolves had let in 40 in the first quarter AGAIN!
2. Zach LaVine
So much of me wanted to put Zach first on this list. He was jettisoned as a likely expensive third option and turned himself into an All-Star. The way he is playing this year brings a tear to my eye. Although he and DLo have similar weaknesses, he would be a great fit in the Malik Beasley role playing alongside Ricky Rubio with Ant, Karl-Anthony Towns, and the PF of your choice.
Hindsight is 20/20, but wouldn’t it be great to see what the 2017 Wolves would be now if nothing had been tinkered with?
1. Jimmy Butler
Leave in a cloud of anger, return in a fit of glory? Ant and Jimmy are similar in a lot of ways, except in executing defensive coverages. Ant feels like he would take to Jimmy’s tough… love is not the right word, but abuse is too strong. Encouragement? Whatever it is, the Ant and Jimmy experience would be the ride of your life, a ride that would end up in the playoffs.