2020 Offseason Outlook - Minnesota Timberwolves


Overview


At the conclusion of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves had a record of 19-45 which placed them at 14th in the Western Conference and 28th in the League. The Minnesota Timberwolves have continued their run of disappointing seasons ending with their worst record since the 2014-2015 NBA season. However, there are some significant positives to come out of this season. The Timberwolves will have the 1st overall pick in the 2020 draft which they can use to add to their young team and build up a solid core. Karl-Anthony Towns was dominant through the first half of the season before unfortunately getting injured which sent the team in a downwards spiral. The Timberwolves finally traded away Andrew Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell who is good friends with Towns and the pair should have a positive season playing together in 2020-2021. This offseason, the Timberwolves main focus will surround the 2020 NBA draft and making sure they select the best prospect available with the top pick as they look to finally make a serious run at making the playoffs next season. They will also have to work to maintain their key restricted free agents that they have acquired over the year and who have contributed greatly as part of the team’s rotation.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Minnesota Timberwolves have seven players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020-2021 NBA season. Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaylen Nowell, and Naz Reid have non-guaranteed salary which projects to become fully guaranteed shortly. James Johnson has a $16 million player option which I expect him to opt into. After his issues in Miami, Johnson came to Minnesota and provided solid contributions of the bench at the power forward position. Additionally, while this free agency class is weaker than usual, Johnson would not expect to see an offer anywhere close to the amount of his player option, so I don't see any reason why he would not opt into his significant salary and job security. Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley will be restricted free agents along with two-way players, Kelan Martin, and Jordan McLaughlin. Evan Turner will be an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves will have bird rights. the Timberwolves project to have a $9.2 million mid-level exception available as well as a $3.6 million bi-annual exception to use during 2020 free agency.


Depth Chart –

Free Agency


The Minnesota Timberwolves will enter free agency well over the cap and will therefore be relatively quiet throughout this period. The key decisions during this time will surround restricted free agents Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley. Both players landed in Minnesota after the blockbuster four-team trade in February where they sent Robert Covington to Houston. Up until this trade, neither player had an opportunity to shine but since moving to Minnesota both have become key to the Timberwolves core, putting up approximately 13 and 21 ppg, respectively. With few teams having cap space available, there will be less interest for restricted free agents from other teams and the Timberwolves should be able to resign both of these players provided they are willing to go further into the luxury tax. Their other priority during free agency should be signing two-way players Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin to NBA contracts. The team has used these players significantly throughout the 2019-2020 season and the pair have performed well enough to earn themselves a full contract in the NBA. Evan Turner is the Timberwolves’ only unrestricted free agent and I do not expect him to be retained. Since being traded to Minnesota by Atlanta, Turner has not seen a single NBA minute and with their projected depth at the guard position, it would not be worth bringing him back just to end up further into the luxury tax.


2020 Draft


The Minnesota Timberwolves will have the 1st overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. The Timberwolves are certain to draft with this pick to add to their young stars in Towns and Russell while also looking to add depth at the guard positions. As this is a weaker than usual draft, there is no defined top prospect and teams will be looking to draft based on team need rather than the talent of the prospects available. With the first pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves should look to take Anthony Edwards, a 6’5” shooting guard out of Georgia. Edwards has the potential to be one of the most dominant scorers in the League at the shooting guard position. He possesses some clear strengths on offence and has the potential to become an elite two-way wing player but his lack of effort and discipline on the defensive end puts that into question. He also shows potential to become a strong playmaker however his selfishness when handling the ball often costs his team success and leads to poor efficiency, especially from beyond the arc. He would fit in well with Towns as a lob threat and Russell as the lead guard which would allow him to play more off ball where he can work on his shot and build some unselfishness.


Summary


The Minnesota Timberwolves will enter the 2020 offseason with their sights set firmly on the NBA draft. With the number one pick in hand, they will have countless eyes on them as they hope to make the right pick that can contribute to their team both now and in the future. They will also have some very important decisions to make surrounding restricted free agency, looking to bring back both Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley. Next season, look for a much-improved outfit with more team chemistry as they expect to make a run at the playoffs in the stacked western conference.


Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –

Players IN: Anthony Edwards

Players OUT: Evan Turner