Who would have thought, that the only guard remaining from last season’s roster would be….Tyus Jones?
After the first week of free agency, the Timberwolves look like a completely different team on paper. Of the five guards that played substantial minutes last year, Jones is the only one to survive the roster overhaul that saw Ricky Rubio, Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn traded, and Shabazz Muhammad cut loose.
Thibodeau’s total team transformation is finally putting the Timberwolves back on the map. Last year’s free agent class was “headlined” by mediocrity. Jordan Hill, Cole Aldrich, and Brandon Rush combined to make a marginal impact at best. This year’s crop (so far), has been an upgrade in every sense of the word.
After acquiring seasoned vets like Butler, Gibson, Teague, and most recently Jamal Crawford, it is clear that the decade long rebuild is over in MN. Lacking veteran leadership in 2016-2017, the addition of players who can help develop a winning culture was the first issue addressed in free agency. Jeff Teague is a winner. He’s been on a playoff team every year of his career. Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson were part of the perennial playoff Bulls team under Thibodeau in Chicago. Jamal Crawford is a 17 year veteran, and three time 6th Man of the Year. It is clear Thibs wants to change the culture in Minnesota, and he has the right personnel to finally do it.
Many expected this massive roster overhaul a year ago, when the Wolves struggled to start the season. A visibly impatient man, Thibodeau is notoriously known for favoring former players and there were rumors of Andrew Wiggins + Zach Lavine + the 5th pick of the draft for Butler in 2016. Thankfully, he didn’t pull the trigger. Instead he used 2016-2017 as a trial season, getting a feel for what his team was capable of, and his patience has appeared to pay off.
This is what it must feel like to have a relevant basketball team.