Anthony Bennett or Thad Young: Who Is Timberwolves' Power Forward of the Future?

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2014

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 4:  Thaddeus Young #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers stands on the court against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 4, 2014 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
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With a 30-day moratorium on trading rookie Andrew Wiggins set to expire, Minnesota Timberwolves are on the brink of officially hitting the reset button.

After Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski initially reported the contours of a deal that would send disaffected forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, we're now learning new details about what the trade looks like.

Citing "a person with knowledge of the trade," the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda reports that, "The Wolves will receive Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, 76ers forward Thaddeus Young and a trade exception believed to be worth at least $4 million."

In return for Young's addition to the deal, Zgoda adds that, "Philadelphia will receive Miami’s 2015 first-round pick that the Cavaliers own, as well as the expiring contracts of Wolves players Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved."'s Marc Stein is also reporting the deal, adding that, "The Wolves, sources said, have been operating under the premise for days that they will land Young from the Sixers as Love's replacement."

So when the dust settles, Minnesota will have a couple of new power forwards to at least partially ease the blow of Love's loss.

The big question is whether both of them fit into the Timberwolves' long-term plans.

Young is by far the more NBA-ready option. The 26-year-old is entering his eighth season after averaging a career-high 17.9 points per game to go along with six rebounds and 2.1 steals per contest.

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 4:  Thaddeus Young #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers smiles against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 4, 2014 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading an
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The surge in productivity was partly a function of Philadelphia's ugly rebuild.

Young actually shot a career-low 45.4 percent from the field en route to all those points, carrying the Sixers' load alongside rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams. With more competitive iterations of the 76ers, Young instead averaged roughly between 13 and 15 points—still solid but also more representative of the contributions he'll make on a good team.

There's little doubt that the Georgia Tech product will immediately become Minnesota's most logical candidate to replace Love in the starting lineup.

Young certainly doesn't rebound or shoot like Love, but he's an athletic and well-rounded forward who was built to run the floor with a charitable point guard like Ricky Rubio.

He can also defend, which should prove instrumental for a team that gave up 104.3 points per game last season.

Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney breaks down his defensive pedigree:

Some of his finest work comes on defense. Young's transition to the power forward spot has given him a more consistent presence in guarding the pick-and-roll, where his feel for maneuvering in space makes him a bother to opponents at every turn. Seven years in the league (including three under Doug Collins) have given Young an education in team defense, though he also instinctively understands how to snuff out and complicate plays.

The Timberwolves will still find themselves amidst a rebuilding process, but someone like Young may ensure that process initially avoids a precipitous fall in the standings.

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 18:  (L-R) Vince Carter #25 of the Dallas Mavericks and Thaddeus Young #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers hold on to the ball on a jump ball call at American Airlines Center on November 18, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expre
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In any event, he's a reasonably priced acquisition. The Timberwolves are getting a starting-caliber player in exchange for two reserves and a draft pick that could fall in the 20s.

If there's a downside to Young, it's that he might not be around for much longer. After this season, he has a player option worth $9,721,739 to return in 2015-16, per Spotrac. That's a lot of money to turn down, but the summer of 2015 could also be a prime opportunity for Young to cash in with another lucrative, long-term deal.

Should he have another productive season, it could be wise to gauge his worth on the open market. 

Similarly, Young could just decide that Minnesota isn't for him, that he's tired of rebuilding efforts and looking to get on board with a playoff team. 

Any number of variables could ultimately translate into a short-lived relationship between Young and the Timberwolves.

That's where Anthony Bennett comes in.

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 30: Anthony Bennett #15 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands against the Brooklyn Nets during a game at the Quicken Loans Arena on October 30, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by down
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Though far less proven than Young, the 21-year-old demonstrated enough upside at UNLV for the Cavaliers to select him with the first-overall pick in 2013. 

Like Young, he registers as a hybrid of the two forward positions—albeit without the athleticism and quickness to spend the majority of his time on the wing. In theory, however, Bennett could develop into a versatile front-court asset capable of scoring from all over the floor.

In theory.

At the moment, Bennett is coming off a disappointing rookie season in which he averaged just 4.2 points and three rebounds per contest through 52 games.

"AB's biggest trouble last year was he never really had the opportunity to play enough because he was either hurt or not in good physical shape," Cavaliers coach David Blatt told reporters during the Las Vegas Summer League. "As you can see, he worked very hard at that. That's a good first step. He did some good things."

Indeed, Bennett has shed some weight and given at least some indications he's prepared for a more robust role this season.

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 9: Head Coach Mike Brown and Anthony Bennett #15 of the Cleveland Cavaliers talk things over against the Philadelphia 76ers at The Quicken Loans Arena on November 9, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
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As CBS SportsZach Harper observed, "His play in summer league was also much different than we saw at any point last year."

Despite the encouraging signals coming out of summer league play, Minnesota will have to proceed patiently with Bennett. He may well emerge as the organization's power forward of the future, but it will take him some time to get there.

In the interim, Young alleviates pressure. Bennett reasons to see plenty of opportunities as the Timberwolves turn their attention to the future, but he needn't make dramatic progress right away. 

There, of course, remains some chance Minnesota can keep Young beyond the end of his current contract, perhaps providing some insurance in the event Bennett never pans out as hoped. But don't be surprised if Young merely serves as a placeholder for the next season or two.

The future lies with Bennett. It just might take him a while to prove it.