The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t exactly take the step forward they were hoping to this year, winning four less games in the regular season than they did last year and then being demolished by the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. That was after they traded a whole lot of draft picks for Rudy Gobert, and having sold so much of their future for the Frenchman they’ll be desperate to find a way to get the most out of this roster – aside from simply trying to fix a few of their glaring deficiencies. The trade table is a good place to start, so let’s take a look at three early trade targets for the Timberwolves this off-season.
1. Damian Lillard
Maybe this is wishful thinking. In fact, it probably is. But there’s no doubting the fact that Damian Lillard’s commitment to loyalty and desire to make things work in Portland is waning. Now 32 years of age, he’s been in Rip City for 11 seasons, a period of time during which they’ve made it past the first round of the NBA Playoffs on just three occasions. What’s more, they haven’t won a playoff series for the past four seasons, and haven’t got close to even making the postseason for the past two years. Lillard appears to be coming to the conclusion that if he wants to compete for a chip in his career, it may not be in Portland, and that could leave the door open for the Timberwolves.
They’d obviously need to give up plenty to get him, and Karl-Anthony Towns would be the most likely candidate in a trade for Lillard. While that would be a blow for the Timberwolves, Towns has now been in Minnesota for eight seasons and, for all his talents, has becoming increasingly timid on offense over the past couple of seasons.
Bringing Lillard in would give the Timberwolves arguably the most capable backcourt in the NBA; the explosive and rapidly improving Edwards supported by a veteran presence who just so happens to be one of the best players in the world. This would be a major move, but if the Wolves can find a way to make it happen they’ll reap the rewards.
2. Tyus Jones
Now to a trade which would have a far less dramatic effect on the Timberwolves fortunes, but which is likely a lot more attainable, too. One of Minnesota’s biggest issues is their lack of punch off the bench, something which was palpable in their recent first round playoff series loss to the Denver Nuggets during which their bench scored just 18.8 points per game on a woeful 34.6% shooting from the field and 28.3% from three-point range.
Tyus Jones could provide a great boost in that regard. He has been an underrated back-up point guard for the Grizzlies over the past few years, leading the league in assist:turnover ratio for the past six years. His production isn’t through the roof, but everything Jones does he does well. He typically shoots in the mid-high 30s from long-range, can get his ten points in 20 minutes on reasonably efficient shooting, and will create good shots for his teammates while taking care of the basketball.
What’s more, Jones has spent half of his career in Minnesota, having played four seasons there between 2015 and 2019. A reunion would provide a valuable boost likely for the Timberwolves bench, and with this season’s point guard in Mike Conley 35 years of age and his salary only partially guaranteed for next season, the 26-year-old Jones could step into the starting lineup to fill the void if need be.
3. OG Anunoby
What NBA team doesn’t need a talented two-way wing? It’s a player type that few, if any, teams don’t want more of, and the Timberwolves are no different. The small forward spot is one which lacked stability for Minnesota this year, and they alternated variously between using Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Taurean Prince there. Neither of them set the world on fire, and OG Anunoby would provide a significant upgrade.
Already the Timberwolves are a solid defensive team, but the addition of Anunoby would only bolster that defense. He’s also a capable offensive player, having averaged 16-17 points over each of the past three seasons while shooting nearly 50% from the field and high 30s from deep. With the Raptors looking likely to blow up their roster, Anunoby is one who could very easily find himself on the trade table, and if he does he is a player that the Timberwolves should be targeting.
Each of the above three players would help to make the Timberwolves a better team, albeit not to the same extent. Damian Lillard, of course, would be the most drastic change to the roster, but both Jones and in particular Anunoby would also be valuable additions who would fill a need for this team.
The post 3 early Timberwolves trade targets in 2023 NBA offseason appeared first on ClutchPoints.