Grading the Minnesota Timberwolves' Current 2-Deep Depth Chart
David Kahn and the Minnesota Timberwolves have done plenty of work over the offseason, and the 2012-13 roster looks entirely different than it did last year.
The franchise looks to have a big season this year, and additions such as Brandon Roy and Alexey Schved will hopefully provide some depth for the team to accomplish bit things.
“It’s a totally different team,” said Coach Adelman during training camp. “I think we’ve added some veterans. We’ve added ball handling and shooting. We’ll see how it all works out. That’s what we’re going to figure out. We get through these three more practices and get to our first game and we’ll find out a lot about ourselves.”
Let's take a look at each position and evaluate the two-player depth* at each point.
*all depth chart information taken from RotoWorld.com.
The most unsettling part of Minnesota's point guard situation is the timeline of Ricky Rubio's return from his ACL injury.
During the 2011-12 season, Rubio immediately proved himself as an athletic, versatile athlete—young or not.
If Rubio could be expected to make a quick return, I wouldn't be at all worried about the PG position. His current timeline, though, puts him on the bench until late December or early January.
The young star's full recovery is too crucial to the team's future to rush.
That being said, however, veteran Luke Ridnour stepped up in Rubio's absence last season, and he looks to fill his shoes once again. During the 2011-12 season, the Oregon alum averaged 10 points and 3.5 assists per game. His fade-away jump shot has become a signature move that Minnesota fans look for during game crunch times.
Ridnour has seen limited activity during training camp due to back spasms. The issue seems minor thus far, and he will hopefully make his preseason debut this week.
If the spasms continue and affect Ridnour's presence during the regular season, it will greatly threaten the Wolves' talent at point guard.
Current Grade: B+
When Brandon Roy came out of retirement to join the Timberwolves in July, he was a giant question mark. A couple months later, things are looking positive for the veteran. In an interview with NBA TV, Roy said the following:
Honestly, right now and all summer long, I've been preparing to not have to take a step back with my game. I'll be honest, some of the lift isn't what it used to be, but my explosiveness, my explosiveness to get to the basket is good. More than anything, I think I'm a lot smarter of a basketball player.
The biggest concern entering the 2012-13 season is Roy's knees and whether or not they'll hold up.
He appears to be feeling great, though, and training camp reports show his progress with the squad, and, most significantly, his motivation and enthusiasm about being back on the court. Roy's knowledge of the game and veteran experience will be a major improvement from last year's roster, which didn't really boast a solid SG.
Currently, RotoWorld places J.J. Barea as backup shooting guard.
The great thing about having Barea as "backup" is that he's not really second-string caliber. If Roy's knees aren't quite ready to go or aren't strong enough for an entire game, Barea can competently share the minutes.
Although small in stature, Barea is the type of player who can maneuver quickly around defenders and create plays effectively. He'll be an explosive second SG for the Wolves.
Current Grade: B-
There's not a whole lot of criticism for Kevin Love.
In 2011-12, Love averaged 21.5 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. He proved to be the most in shape of his NBA career last season, and he'll look to continue that success in 2012-13.
The All-Star forward has admitted to his patience running out, as he has played the last few years without the support of solid teammates.
This year, Derrick Williams looks to be that support. His rookie year started out sluggish, failing to live up to expectations. No one can deny the 21-year-old's potential, though.
Timberwolves writer Mark Remme wrote the following in a Day 1 Training Camp report:
"Second year forward [Williams] was impressive on Day 1, particularly building off his performance at Summer League where he was more aggressive attacking the basket. He had the same mentality today and also was more consistent with his jump shooting."
As long as Love stays healthy, he'll continue to dominate on the floor and absorb most of the minutes, and Williams is an explosive backup who will continue to learn and improve under Love's mentorship.
Current Grade: A-
Small forward is the only position to be completely revamped for the 2012-13 season. Over the past two years, Minnesota really hasn't had a solid guy to fill the spot. Finally, the Wolves have two legitimate small forwards in Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger.
Slotted at starter, Kirilenko will make his return to the NBA after taking a hiatus during the lockout. The veteran forward delivered an impressive performance during the 2012 Olympics, and he took home a Bronze medal with Team Russia. Kirilenko looked solid during the Timberwolves training camp in Mankato, and he should be a positive addition for Minnesota moving forward.
Budinger is a decent athlete, but don't expect him to make a huge impact on the Wolves' roster this season. He averaged fewer than 10 points per game last year in Houston, but he will improve the squad's perimeter shooting, as he's known for a consistency behind the three-point line. He's been fairly quiet leading up to preseason, and it will be interesting to see how much playing time he receives coming out of the gate.
Current Grade: C +
If Nikola Peković can pick up where he left off at the peak of the 2011-12 season, the Wolves will be in good shape at center.
The big man blossomed early last year, delivering averages of 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Pek is aggressive beneath the basket, while still retaining a soft touch on the ball, and Minnesota can only hope its center stays healthy. Pekovic's ankles proved problematic toward the end of last season, and treatments during the offseason will hopefully keep him pain-free and productive.
The Wolves also added Greg Stiemsma to the roster.
The second-year out of Boston probably won't get much playing time overall, but his size and youth make him a positive asset off the bench. Let's just hope Minny doesn't have to rely on him as its No. 1 guy.
Current Grade: B