Season preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Season preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

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Season preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

STAYING: Jimmy Butler, Gorgui Dieng, Taj Gibson, Tyus Jones, Justin Patton, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

ADDED: Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), James Nunnally (Fenerbahce), Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech), Jared Terrell (Rhode Island), Anthony Tolliver (Detroit) and CJ Williams (LA Clippers).

GONE: Cole Aldrich, Nemanja Bjelica (Sacramento), Aaron Brooks, Anthony Brown (Philadelphia), Jamal Crawford, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Amile Jefferson.

STRENGTHS: On talent alone, few teams can keep up with the Timberwolves … Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler are two bonafide stars and among the most efficient players in the NBA … Butler’s two-way play is a massive asset for the Timberwolves … His net rating last season was +8.3, which put him near Kevin Durant … KAT’s offensive versatility will continue to create headaches … Just too big, quick, athletic and skilled for most teams … Taj Gibson is quietly a very helpful player at the power forward spot … Quite a glue guy … Minnesota’s five most used players last season are back this year … Continuity and familiarity should help, right? … The Anthony Tolliver signing was a low-key nice addition … Should help open up the floor with his three-point shooting.

WEAKNESSES: Is everybody on the same page? … Widely considered the next great squad not long ago, Minnesota now appears to have Team Titanic potential … Butler, Towns and Andrew Wiggins may not be such a great fit personality-wise … With all the rumblings about team discord, one gets the feeling things could go south quick if they don’t start the season well … Although supremely talented, Wiggins has been a mild disappointment in the NBA so far … Is the competitive fire there? … Defensively, you expected a lot more out of a Thibodeau-coached club … They were 27th in defensive rating his first year with the Wolves and managed to lose one spot in 2017-18 … They averaged a league-worst 8.0 three-pointers per game last year … Tolliver and James Nunnally can help there, but to what extent? … Some questions about durability with Butler … He’s missed at least 15 games in five of his sevens campaigns as a pro.

PREDICTION: 5th in the Northwest Division, 10th in the Western Conference.

SALARIES:

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