Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of NBA fans. Every week, we ask questions to the most connected Minnesota Wolves fans and fans across the country.
Now that Wolves have officially started their free agency spree by re-signing Taurean Prince with bird money, the focus is on a variety of external targets which will no longer include Dejounte Murray, who has would have been traded to the Atlanta Hawks.
Strengthen the central rotation
Despite drafting former Auburn center Walker Kessler with the 22nd overall pick in last week’s NBA draft, Minnesota has reportedly expressed interest in adding another center, including checking availability of Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert. Considering the unlikely nature of this move given the cost to both acquire and pay for the three-time All-Star, it makes sense that President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and his front office are looking to add a big man. through free agency.
Backup centers Isaiah Hartenstein of the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors have been two usable options tied to Minnesota as players in Wolves’ price range who can defend both on the edge and in the space and also provide some spacing on offense. end.
Hartenstein played in 68 games last season, averaging 8.3 points on 62.6/46.7/68.9 shooting, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 assists on 17.9 minutes per game, all center, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Los Angeles was 12.3 points per 100 possessions better with him on the ground than with him on the bench, good for the 96th percentile. Defensively, the Clippers’ opponents had a 3.7% lower eFG% (93rd percentile) with Hartenstein on the ground, but they also had a 1.9% higher OREB rate (24th percentile).
For reference, Naz Reid ranked in the 23rd percentile in terms of impact on the opponent’s OREB rate (+2.0%) while down. So while Hartenstein is a significantly better defender at 7ft 1 than Reid, he isn’t much better on the glass, which is a central reason for Wolves’ interest in finding a replacement for Reid.
Boucher played in 80 games for Nick Nurse’s Raptors last season, averaging 9.4 points on 46.4/29.7/77.7, 6.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 1.5 shares on 21.1 minutes per game. 64% of those minutes came at the forefront, while the remaining 36% came at the center.
Toronto had more success with Boucher playing the 4 when you factor in all of his minutes, but the Raptors’ best lineup that included Boucher came with him at center in a front court of Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam and Boucher. While that’s more versatile than a Jaden McDaniels/Karl-Anthony Towns/Boucher forecourt, it’s not far off, especially considering the defensive play Anthony Edwards brings.
Like Hartenstein with the Clippers, the Raptors allowed opponents to grab offensive rebounds at a 0.5% higher clip with Boucher on the floor, ranking in the 42nd percentile, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Both would likely see an extended run at Minnesota from their 17.9 and 21.1 minutes per game, respectively, in their current situation. Each player is able to deploy in lineups with or without cities due to their offensive skills and ability to play in space, making them attractive targets.
To make up for the big two’s inability to provide a clear rebound upgrade, the Timberwolves’ solution could very well be simply an honest conversation with Edwards heavily demanding six or seven rebounds per game. For someone as special as Ant, it can be a simple ask-and-you-get situation.
Added defensive versatility on the wing
If there’s anything we learned in this year’s NBA playoffs, it’s that you can’t have too many athletic, switchable defenders who can play in space on both sides.
Two names that immediately come to mind as players who would fit into Wolves’ fast pace, fluid offense and aggressive defensive patterns are Golden State Warriors goaltender Gary Payton II and Brooklyn’s Swiss army knife. Nets Bruce Brown.
Payton II is rumored to be in play for teams such as the Dallas Mavericks with their mid-level taxpayer exception just south of $7 million a year. A raise of almost $4 million could be enough of a selling point for the 2022 NBA champion to leave for Minnesota.
He played in 71 games for Golden State last year, holding averages of 7.1 points on 6.16/35.8/60.3 separate shots, 3.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.7 shares on 17.6 minutes per game – and has dropped little in the playoffs, despite suffering a broken elbow in their second-round series.
At 6ft 3in and 190lbs, Payton II is not the biggest option available to play on the wing, but has a wingspan of 6ft 7in and is a crazy athlete who navigates the screens very well in point. attacking, has quick hands and strong legs that keep him from getting posted by bigger defenders, and is an excellent playmaker both on and off the ball who plays well in a team concept.
He doesn’t offer as much ball as you might want for someone playing at the full intermediate level, but he cuts extremely well, has completed 77% (!!) of his 242 attempts at the rim this season and has shot 42 % on 90 corner 3s. Payton II can also be a little redundant with Patrick Beverley and put a cap on the role Jaylen Nowell could play on the bench.
Brown is one of my favorite players in the whole league. He fights like hell defensively, showed the ability to keep 1-4 (and a couple 5s in the small-ball lineups with the wide spacing to the short corner), and made timely plays over and over at both ends in the clutch for the Brooklyn Nets last season.
The former University of Miami star played 72 games for the Nets, averaging 9.0 points on 50.6/40.4/75.8 shooting, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 actions in 24.6 minutes per game. He improved each of those ratings – while his minutes rose to 34.8 per game – in Brooklyn’s first-round series with the eventual runner-up Boston Celtics.
If Wolves decide to look at an improvement from Jarred Vanderbilt, Brown makes a lot of sense as a guy who can play the 5 effectively on offense but provides extra space at the corners and slots, hence he is an excellent cutter. He’s the perfect type of complementary player to surround Towns, Edwards and McDaniels, and would be a better fit than Payton II given he’s taller, plays well as a facilitator and scorer as a roller in PnR actions, and handles the ball better too. Some of the same redundancy issues exist with Brown, but this makes more sense to me than Vanderbilt given Vando’s lack of spacing.
Who do you have?
The Timberwolves currently sit at +5500 to win the 2023 NBA Finals at DraftKings.
Which player do you think would best improve Minnesota’s chances of winning a title next season if added to the roster?
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