NBA Fantasy Impact: Upgrade!
In an offseason of trades, signings, and everything in between, the Minnesota Timberwolves have found themselves among the elites of the West. By trading Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and the 7th pick of the draft, the Timberwolves landed coveteted two-way star, Jimmy Butler. However, the Wolves didn’t stop there, as they also signed Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson. Now, with a high octane, bolstered offense, the Timberwolves shakeup the landscape of their Northwest Division and look to end a 13 season playoff drought.
- Jimmy Butler
Over the last few seasons, Jimmy Butler’s name has come up in many trade talks. This offseason, however, things turned out differently as Butler was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now in a more potent offense, Jimmy G. has the ability to not only get his buckets, but play along side other young, talented players in Wiggins and Towns. The trio of these Wolves alone is a lot to handle for any opposing team, especially since they play so many minutes. This is a familiar offense for him, as he is reunited with longtime coach Tom Thibodeau, which should create a nice flowing chemistry. As a vet, Butler will be a huge leader on and off the court for Minnesota’s young stars, and will be a definitive piece to their success as a whole. With a stat line of 23/5/6 last season and a usage rate of 26.5, we’ll see how well the Timberwolves distribute the ball throughout their three stars and still get others involved.
- Jeff Teague
After playing seven seasons with the Atlanta Hawks (’09-’16), Jeff Teague signed a three-year $57-million deal with his hometown Indiana Pacers. However, following a disappointing 42-40 year and losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs, he opted out. Now with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Teague looks to continue his steady career and forward his playoff progression. This contract, similar to his one with the Pacers, is a three-year $55-million deal, and looks to be more than just a one year stint. What Teague brings the Wolves is more than just ball handling, which he will likely share that role with Jimmy Butler, as he brings double-digit scoring and playmaking. With Wiggins and Butler on the wings, #0’s ability to open up the floor and playmake will help take some pressure off their immense workloads. Don’t expect Teague to be a major improvement from Ricky Rubio, but with last year’s averages of 15/7/4, all above his career averages, he should be a solid contributor for this team.
- Jamal Crawford
Not only did the Timberwolves upgrade their starting five, but they added to their depth. Jamal Crawford, a prolific scorer off the bench, is a 3x Sixth Man of the Year award winner. Crawford offers this young Minnesota team leadership, maturity, and firepower. Following his five years in LA, J-Crossover the 17 year vet, continues to be a productive player with a composition of over 5,600 points in his time with the Clippers. He brings them a spark from the bench, which will be vital throughout the year with the minutes that their starters typically log. The way the Wolves play is perfect for a player like Crawford, as an athletic, crafty player with moderate pace. Look for him to step up and be a big factor for them late or whenever they need some buckets.
- Taj Gibson
As an old-school type player, Taj Gibson has a lot to offer this young team. He brings grit and grind to a team that has yet to be battle-tested by the challenges of the playoffs. Gibson, along with Butler, is back with his former coach Thibodeau, so he knows what this upcoming season will entail and what is expected. With big men transitioning more and more to perimeter type play styles, Gibson stays true to his game and pounds the paint. Last season, he played on a subpar Bulls team where he averaged 10/6 and was then traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for their playoff push. Now as a member of the Wolves, he will likely return to a starting role to toughen up their front court defense. Though Gibson won’t be much more than a role player for the team, he will aid them defensively and with rebounding.
- Fantasy Impact:
All of the new acquisitions that the Timberwolves have made greatly improve their chances at snapping that awful 13 season playoff drought and even competing for a championship. Jimmy Butler gives them veteran leadership and the ability to play at a higher level. The signing of Jeff Teague gives them a scorer at the point guard position and a way to spread the floor a little more from Wiggins and Butler. Off the bench, Crawford adds a spark that this team has been missing aside from their stars and easily gives them point production. Taj Gibson adds defense and grit to a team that allowed 106ppg last season, 12th worst in the league. Minnesota did a fantastic job this offseason and appears to be in good position for a top five seed in this year’s playoffs.