Breaking Down the New-Look Minnesota Timberwolves Roster
There may be a bit of uncertainty surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves and their success in the upcoming seasons, but one thing's for sure—no one can say David Kahn and Rick Adelman aren't trying to put together a solid team, and the 2012-2013 roster will look entirely different than that of last season.
Let's take a look at this year's lineup and then go into depth on each new addition.
Jose Barea, G
*Chase Budinger, F
*Dante Cunningham, F
*Robbie Hummel, F-G
*Andrei Kirilenko, F
Malcolm Lee, G
Kevin Love, F-C
Nikola Pekovic, C
Luke Ridnour, G
*Brandon Roy, G
Ricky Rubio, G
*Alexey Shved, G
**Anthony Tolliver, F
Derrick Williams, F
*denotes a new addition to the roster
**currently a free agent
Weight: 218 lbs
Prior to NBA: Arizona
As a fourth-year small forward, Budinger has previous experience with Rick Adelman’s coaching style and offensive schemes.
“Chase was an integral part of our team in Houston my last two years as coach there,” Adelman said (via CBC Sports). “He will help our perimeter game with his athleticism and shooting ability. Chase’s game has improved in each of his first three seasons in the NBA and we look forward to that continuing here in Minnesota.”
Budinger may not be a huge rebounder, but that isn’t the Wolves’ top concern stat-wise. Minnesota desperately needs a small forward to start (Wes Johnson was a complete disappointment last season), and Budinger can get it done.
At 24 years old, Budinger will greatly improve Minnesota's perimeter shooting and impact the scoring totals as a whole. In 2011-2012, he averaged 9.6 points over 22 minutes of play and shot 44 percent from the field. He’s consistent on offense, and he averages less than one turnover per game.
Budinger’s biggest asset is that he can shoot the long ball. The Arizona alum shoots 40 percent from behind the three-point line, and he drained an incredible 88 baskets from downtown last season.
Oh, and guess what? He can dunk, too.
Budinger found himself a contestant in the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and he’ll no doubt aid Minnesota in making the SportsCenter highlight reel.
“We’re excited to add a player like Chase who is a proven shot-maker and also has an excellent all-around game,” David Kahn said (via FoxSportsNorth.com).
Weight: 230 lbs
Prior to NBA: Villanova
For the Timberwolves, 25-year-old Dante Cunningham proved an easy swap for Wayne Ellington. I was a bit sad to see Ellington go, but I can understand the move.
Ellington wasn't reliable enough to serve Minnesota's current needs, and Memphis will be able to use a solid off-the-bench guard.
Cunningham was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft. In three seasons, the Villanova alum has averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 205 games.
He has a decent success rate on the floor with a field-goal average of 48 percent since being in the league. Last season, he had a career-high 51.6 percent.
Cunningham is a versatile athlete, and he will bring with him a heightened defensive presence and a consistency on offense.
Weight: 215 lbs
Prior to NBA: Purdue
With the No. 58 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, the Timberwolves selected Robbie Hummel out of Purdue.
In 2011-2012, Hummel averaged 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, and he is definitely a well-rounded athlete that can fill more than one place on the floor.
Hummel was originally predicted to go as a first-rounder, but he suffered two ACL injuries in college. Regardless of the health risk, though, Minnesota saw past the injuries and decided to take a risk on a player that David Kahn says has every chance to make the regular-season roster.
“He’s got a beautiful shot with a quick release,” Kahn said (via NBA.com). “In our league, if you can make shots on a consistent basis and you have a little size to you—and he’s 6-8, 6-8 1/2—then you have a chance to make the league.”
Hummel is a smart player, and if he can keep his physical strength in check, the young rookie shows huge potential for development.
Weight: 235 lbs
Prior to NBA: St. Petersburg, Russia
Although he did not play in the NBA during the 2011-2012 season due the lockout, Andrei Kirilenko is a great pickup for Minnesota.
The Russian native played 10 years with the Utah Jazz, and in 2010-2011, he averaged 9.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game. While he probably won't be starting for the Wolves, Kirilenko will be a great go-to reserve and will earn solid minutes on the hardwood.
Yahoo! Sports' Kelly Dwyer weighs in:
Kirilenko, though declining, will likely be an upgrade on second-year forward Derrick Williams, who was the hoped-for future small forward but disappointed at both the big and small forward slots during 2011-12 [...] He'll be better than just about any other wing free agent the Wolves could have latched onto. He'll be good, even though it's still up in the air as to whether or not Kirilenko's best position is at the small forward.
For those of you watching the 2012 Summer Olympics, you may have seen Kirilenko's impressive performances for his native team. On July 29, he scored 35 points to lead Russia to a victory over Great Britain.
Although some uncertainty surrounds Kirilenko's return to the NBA, I'm anticipating a positive impact in Minnesota.
Weight: 211 lbs
Prior to NBA: Washington
Despite walking away in 2011 due to bad knees, Brandon Roy has returned to the game to join the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Roy is a three-time All-Star and, while he was healthy, he established himself as one of the league's top shooting guards. In 2007, he received Rookie of the Year honors.
Throughout his career, Roy has averaged 19 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 46 percent from the field.
Minnesota President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said, via FoxNews.com:
Weight: 161 lbs
Prior to NBA: CSKA Moscow, Russia
He's a bit on the small side weight-wise, but Alexey Shved shows huge potential. The 23-year-old plays a great pick-and-roll offense, and his fluidity and quickness on the open floor will make him an effective guard in the league.
Shved is not the most physical of players, but he makes up for it with quick passing and an incredible ability to create shots for himself. He's been compared to Goran Dragic.
Last season in Russia, Shved averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 assists per game. He was named the 2012 BEKO PBL Playoffs MVP with 14.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 60 percent from three-point range during the postseason.
David Kahn described Shved in the following way, per FoxNews.com:
"Alexey has been regarded as one of the best young talents in Europe for the past few seasons and will be a tremendous addition to our club. He is a smooth, fast-paced player who brings great shooting and passing abilities to our team. He will fit in well with our style of play and we look forward to seeing him a Timberwolves uniform."
The young guard is playing alongside Kirilenko for Russia in the Olympics, and it will serve as good preparation for his transition to the NBA.
Moving Forward with a New Roster
With a solid nucleus held together by All-Star Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio, these new faces will help add depth to Minnesota's roster.
The forward position has especially been improved by a combination of transactions, and Rubio, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea will have some assistance in the backcourt as well.
It's been an odd offseason to be sure, but Timberwolves fans can expect their team to make huge strides forward in 2012-2013.