Three Free Agents That Could Turn The Wolves Into A Title Contender
The Minnesota Timberwolves have not made the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season. After years of disappointment, the Wolves have a young talented core who have the potential to end that playoff drought. The one thing that the Wolves are still missing is three point shooting.
The Timberwolves ranked dead last in three pointers made last season and finished with a 31-51 record. The top 4 teams in that category (Houston, Cleveland, Boston, Golden State) had a combined record of 226-102. It is clear that the NBA has become a guard-oriented three point shooting league and the Wolves need to adjust. With that said, the Wolves are not a bad shooting team. They ranked 8th in field goal percentage and 5th in free throw percentage last season.
The problem is the Wolves are a team built around the 2-pointers and free throw shooting. Andrew Wiggins would much rather drive the lane or take a mid-range jumper, than settle for a three pointer. Karl Anthony Towns is a force in the low post and needs shooters to kick out to when he gets double- and triple-teamed. Ricky Rubio enjoyed career highs in points per game, field goal percentage and free throw percentage last season. But he is, at heart, a pass first point guard. Gorgui Dieng prefers the mid-range shot and took only 43 three point shots last season. Zach LaVine led the team with 120 three pointers made despite playing only 47 games last season. The Wolves’ bench accounted for only 29% of the Wolves’ league worst 601 three pointers made. It is not as if the Wolves cannot win with their current style of play. They just need shooters to supplement their core.
Potential Free Agent Fits
Tony Snell – The 25-year old shooting guard from New Mexico could be a perfect long-term piece for the Timberwolves. He started for a Milwaukee team that made the playoffs last season and enjoyed career highs in games played (80), points per game (8.5), three point percentage (40%), three pointers made (144), field goal percentage (45%) and minutes per game (29). He is a restricted free agent this off season and will be coming off his rookie contract. Snell will be looking for a pay increase in free agency but for the right price he could be worth the cash.
Dion Waiters – Waiters played in only 46 games in his first season with the Heat and suffered a season ending ankle injury on March 17th. Before the injury, he averaged 15.8 points per game, and shot 42% from the field and a career high 39% from behind the three point line. While he may be looking for a team he can start for in free agency, Waiters could be a legitimate contender for sixth man of the year if he signs with the Wolves. Waiters has a player option with the Heat for next season that would pay him $3.02 million. If the Wolves can give Waiters a much better offer, he could be on his way to Minnesota.
JJ Reddick – Many expect the Clippers to fall apart in the offseason. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are both free agents and if one leaves, there is not much incentive for the other to stay. JJ Reddick will be 33 years old when next season begins, and probably won’t want to stick around with a Clipper team that is in rebuilding mode. He will be looking to sign with a team that can contend in the next 2-3 years, and where he can fulfill a well-defined role. That is exactly what the Wolves can offer Reddick. The only thing that stands in the Wolves way is the Reddick’s high price tag.