Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Previewing a strong Northwest division

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves

Key arrivals: Jarrett Culver, Jordan Bell

Key departures: Tyus Jones, Derrick Rose

After trading up from the 11th spot in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves snatched Jarrett Culver with the 6th pick. Culver had enough talent to be picked in the top three but his fall to the sixth spot is nothing if not a steal for Minnesota. The addition of Jordan Bell is a nice pick-up too if a little uninspiring.

The losses of Rose and Jones and represent a huge lack of depth at the guard spot for head coach Ryan Saunders, and even the pick-up of Culver had its consequences. The Timberwolves had to give up Dario Saric in addition to the number 11 pick in the draft. Saric only started in 28 games for the Timberwolves, but still provided scoring off the bench.

Offensive outlook

The offense will remain in the hands of Jeff Teague – an uninspiring but safe choice – as the lead playmaker for Minnesota but the fulcrum of the offense has to be Karl-Anthony Towns. He remains one of the best offensive players in the NBA, and in an offense predicated around his strengths, they could surprise. One of the Timberwolves’ strengths last season was their ability to get to the line, attempting 24.3 free throws per game, good for eighth in the NBA. Without Rose and Saric, the bench productivity will likely falter.

Defensive outlook

This Timberwolves roster still has a decent amount of length, and one of the best defenders in the NBA – Robert Covington – will head into the season fully healthy. The problem always has been a lack of hunger on the defensive side of the ball, though. Andrew Wiggins is nearing the lost cause territory unless he makes strides on either side of the ball this year, and Towns can still show improvements as a rim protector heading into his fifth season.

Projected outlook: 30-52

The Timberwolves could surprise everyone and make a real run for the final spot in the playoffs, but the lack of growth from main contributors, as well as some lost pieces from the bench, means that it’s a little unlikely – especially in the West. They won’t be terrible, but it could be another lost season in Minnesota.