The Minnesota Timberwolves play their first regular season game on December 23rd and there are still a bunch of unanswered questions. This season, the questions aren’t sad and destitute like they have been in years past, but they need to be answered nonetheless. The first, and main question, is a simple one: who is going to start?
We know for sure that Towns and Russell will be there, but who will fill the other three spots? Here are all the players who could potentially start for the Wolves. Sorry Jarrett Culver, but you’re just not very good.
- Malik Beasley
- Ricky Rubio
- Juancho Hernangomez
- Josh Okogie
- Jake Layman
- Anthony Edwards
Embarrassment of riches?
From those six spots, Rosas and Saunders need to find 3 starters. Beasley was just given $15 million/year, but faces a potential suspension. Rubio is a top-4 player on this roster but could be very useful leading a young bench too. Hernangomez is one of only two capable power forwards, but he can’t defend (do we care?).
Okogie plays solid defense, with great energy, but would also make for a good spark plug off the bench. Layman is valuable but doesn’t have the same breakout potential. Edwards is only 19 and loaded with talent but he hasn’t had an offseason and won’t have much of a preseason.
If the Minnesota Timberwolves were smart enough to hire me as the guy who makes these major roster decisions, here would be my starting-five.
- PG: D’Angelo Russel
- SG: Malik Beasley
- SF: Jake Layman
- PF: Juan Hernangomez
- C: Karl-Anthony Towns
Malik Beasley, while his off-the-court antics are highly questionable (and allegedly criminal), did more than enough in 14 games on-the-court last season, to prove he belongs in the starting lineup. He’s also a 3rd shooting threat next to Towns and Russell, which should help all three of them get decent looks at the basket. He isn’t good at defense, but who needs defense, right?
Why Juan Hernangomez?
I believe Juancho Hernangomez is as much a lock as anyone to be in this starting lineup, mostly because there’s nobody else. JH is talented enough to do it on offense and, I’m feeling like a bit of a broken record at this point, but we don’t care about defense in this blog. Lastly, Juancho Hernangomez is really annoying to spell. Can we get this dude a nickname?
Why Jake Layman?
I love me some Jake Layman and I believe he is best suited for this spot. Is he the most talented out of him, Rubio, Edwards, and Okogie? No, he may even be fourth on that list… but I think he fits in best with the other four starters.
Although it comes in very small sample sizes, he was one of the only players to have a positive +/- two-man rotation with both DLo and Towns (according to basketball-reference.com). When playing with Russell, the Wolves were +10.8 in +/- last season. With Towns, it was a +7.2. Layman provides stability both offensively (and defensively for those who care). He’s another outside shooter, too.
Bench of Stars
There are pieces of the second unit that have me more excited than the first. A bench of Rubio, Edwards, and Okogie sounds pretty damn good. They’d certainly be a lot of fun to watch. Nobody knows how to run an offense better than Rubio and he’s the perfect side-piece to a young and blossoming Anthony Edwards, Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver.
It’s not always about who starts the game, though. Who is playing in crunch time? It will obviously depend partly on game flow and who is playing well, but you’d have to think we’ll see both Russell and Rubio on the floor in key late-game situations.
Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan