Four Questions that Follow the Jimmy Butler Trade

The Timberwolves traded for Jimmy Butler, in case you missed it. Lucas recapped the wild draft night, last week. This post is about what’s next. Here are four questions worth asking and answering now that Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn are Bulls and Butler is a Wolf.

Question #1: What does the roster and depth chart now look like?

We’ll start with a softball question. This one is very straightforward and #factsonly. The current Timberwolves depth chart for players under contract is as follows:

Starting Lineup:
PG:  Ricky Rubio
SG:  Andrew Wiggins
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Gorgui Dieng
C: Karl-Anthony Towns

Tyus Jones
Cole Aldrich
Nemanja Bjelica
Justin Patton

Options Yet to Be Determined:
Shabazz Muhammad (restricted free agent unless Wolves renounce his rights to open up $4 Million in cap space for free agent spending)
Jordan Hill (team has option to keep him for one more season for $4.2 Million)

I’d bet against Shabazz coming back, because at least one team out there will offer him a bigger contract than the Wolves will want to match. Hill is a closer call, in my view, because while he offered almost nothing on the floor last season, his salary is cheap and he seems like a positive locker room presence – at least from my vantage point near the end of the bench where Hill comes off as a mellow source of positive reinforcement that counterbalances Thibs’s ferocious in-game demeanor. But who knows. If they need a few extra million in cap space, all of the positive vibes in the world aren’t going to save Hill’s job and he will be let go.

That’s a good — possible very good — starting five, and a weak bench. The Wolves have 9 players, 5 of which are clearly NBA-caliber rotation players or better (the starters; this goes up to 6 if they retain Bazz), 3 of which might be decent rotation players in the right roles (Jones, Aldrich, and Bjelica) and 1 who will most likely spend next year in Des Moines.

In other words, they need to add some players before October.

Question #2: Compared to last season’s Timberwolves performance, what are the likely changes resulting from a Jimmy Butler for Zach LaVine & Kris Dunn swap?

The simple and easy answer to this question is: the Wolves will be much, much better at winning games. But we can do better than that in answering this one.

First, Dunn can largely be dismissed as a non-factor in this equation. While he played good defense, it was mostly with the second unit last year and the number of games where he seemed like a pivotal contributor can be counted on one hand. More relevant than his good defense was his atrocious offense, captured as well as anything by his single-digit PER of 8.1. For a point guard in today’s NBA, that just isn’t good enough. And for Dunn to be an effective off-the-ball offensive player he needs to dramatically improve his shooting. Dunn has no clear place in an NBA offense, at this point. Add in his advanced rookie age (turned 23 in March) and the likelihood that he ever becomes more than a disruptive bench defender and significant offensive liability seems remote. Sending Dunn away in a trade of this magnitude amounts to a “throw in.” I don’t mean to trash Dunn here — he seems like a good guy, hard worker, and his approach to defense is borderline inspiring. But compared to LaVine and especially Butler, his game is not in the same conversation.

Dismissing Dunn effectively leaves us with a LaVine/Butler swap. (Not in terms of the transaction itself, which also flipped the eventual rights to Lauri Markkanen for Justin Patton, but in terms of what happened to the Wolves rotation from last season to next.) This is a major change for a few different reasons.

First, and worst for the Wolves, losing LaVine and adding Jimmy Butler means a downgrade in three-point shooting ability. While LaVine’s all-around game remained a work-in-progress up through the night he tore his ACL last February, he clearly established himself as an elite perimeter shooter. In high (and increasing) volume for the past two seasons he shot 39 percent from downtown. Many of these shots were semi-contested, far from the “wide open in the corner” variety that boost the percentages of good-team role players around the league. Watching LaVine go through his pregame shootaround became a source of my own entertainment last season. He has a beautiful, effortless stroke with range that extends a few feet behind the three-point line.

On the other side of this trade, Butler is not as good of a perimeter shooter. He hit 36.7 percent of threes last year, which was above his career average of 33.7, but only tried 3.3 of them per game; exactly one half the number that LaVine shot per game for the Wolves. For a team that made the fewest threes in the entire league last year, swapping its only prolific perimeter shooter for Jimmy Butler will only make them worse in that area.

There. We got the one and only way that the Butler-LaVine swap hurts the Wolves. In every other way, it’s a massive upgrade.

First, defense. Butler was on the NBA’s All-Defensive Team in 2014, ’15, and ’16, and could very well be on it again whenever that gets announced for 2017. Simply put, he’s really good at D. Butler is strong, athletic, tough, aggressive, serious, and it seems reasonable to expect some degree of contagiousness to his effort that will infect Wiggins and Towns with more defensive focus. That’s the hope, anyway. If the youngins don’t show up with their priorities more skewed toward getting stops, there will be a loud veteran voice in their ear.

LaVine, as every Timberwolves viewer knows, is not a good defensive player. While he has supreme athleticism and seems to try hard, his lack of physical strength and poor awareness combine for sub-par D. The Wolves always defend better when he’s off the floor than when he’s on it, and his mistakes can be easily observed by anyone paying attention.

Second, Butler adds another playmaker to the Wolves starting five. Last year, Rubio was the only Wolf capable of setting up teammates. Thibs experimented with “Point Wiggins” to little success, and never even bothered with LaVine, whose skillset to this point does not include slashing into the lane against a ball defender, a basic prerequisite for effective wing passing. Butler averaged 5.5 assists per game last year and 4.8 the year before that. LaVine averaged 3.0. Butler, more than any recent Timberwolf including Rubio can handle primary playmaking duties against late-game, physical defense. He can get his own shot or create one for an open teammate.

To help illustrate how Butler attacks the paint, he shot a whopping 8.9 free throws per game last year. LaVine, a high-flyer but featherweight who doesn’t absorb contact well, shot just 3.0. The Wolves overall offensive rating of 108.1 (10th ranked in the NBA) dropped to 106.5 with LaVine on the floor, despite his sharp shooting. Last year’s Bulls were an offensively-challenged sort with their bizarro experiment to surround non-shooters with non-shooters; often times rocking a starting perimeter trio of Butler, Rajon Rondo, and Dwyane Wade. Butler, however, managed to carry them to decent offense, with an O-rating of 106.4. When he sat, the Bulls were a miserable 100.0, a number that would’ve qualified as the worst offense in the NBA.

It seems inevitable that Butler is going to bump the Timberwolves defense from the bottom tier of the league into at least the middle and possibly higher than that, if Wiggins and Towns take careful notes and follow his lead. But it also seems possible, if not probable, that Butler could improve the Wolves’ OFFENSE as well. He isn’t the shooter LaVine is — not even close — but he’s so much better at driving to the basket, drawing fouls, and creating for teammates, that it might add up to a net-positive on both ends of the floor.

The Wolves got much, much better, immediately in this trade and that is without taking LaVine’s recovering knee into consideration. Jimmy Butler is one of the best wings in the world and he is now a Timberwolf.

Question #3: In planning to contend for championships, what does the Butler acquisition do to the timeline?

Well, it obviously speeds up the #process. By acquiring Jimmy Butler, Tom Thibodeau has more or less announced that he plans to win now. There has been a natural and logical tendency to preach patience with the Timberwolves ever since the Kevin Love-for-Andrew Wiggins trade that went down in 2014. Since that roster shake-up they have been devoting huge minutes to 19, 20, and 21 year old players with crazy talent but also myriad flaws in their games that have been revealed and partially improved through rigorous on-the-job training.

That on-the-job training stops now.

By sending away LaVine and Dunn, probably letting Shabazz Muhammad go in free agency, and adding 27-year old Jimmy Butler coming off the best season of his impressive career, the Wolves have rid themselves of excuses and added a player who can carry a team. This massive shake-up, combined with the possibility and hope that Towns ascends to All-NBA status next year, means that the Wolves will probably have the 1-2 core of a contending team.

You don’t waste that — even for one season — in the name of patience or the long view. In looking at potential “title windows,” people clamoring for instant competitiveness will focus on Butler. He  is older than the other Wolves and in his prime. His contract is also up in two years, which means the Wolves have less certainty that he will be here for a long time.

Towns, however, is arguably the one that people should be thinking about. After the All-Star Break last season, he averaged over 28 points and 13 rebounds per game on 60 percent shooting. He hit over 43 percent of threes and 84 percent of free throws. In some huge ways, Towns is already playing like a top-tier superstar player; better than Jimmy Butler, even.

KAT has a unique set of skills, but he is most often compared to Tim Duncan as a young center. It’s easy to forget that the Spurs won the championship in Duncan’s SECOND season as a pro. They obviously had veterans around him — David Robinson, Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, among others — but Timmy was their best player and they didn’t spend a single season looking into the future with their on and off-court decisions. They won from Day 1 and had a championship trophy by Year 2. The Wolves have a pretty luxurious roster situation right now with KAT being only 21 years old and a mere 2 years into his Wolves tenure that figures to include 7 more before he ever hits unrestricted free agency. Combine that with Andrew Wiggins — 22 years old and fresh off a 23.6 points per game third year — and Butler, a bona fide star, and you have the makings of a team that can win now AND in the future.

The most natural counter to any notions of immediate title contention is the Golden State Warriors, who might be unbeatable for a couple more years if they remain healthy.

But the Wolves can’t make that their problem. They need to try to replicate as best they can what Gregg Popovich did with Young Tim Duncan and win as much as possible, right away. As soon as Towns prioritizes defense to even 30 or 40 percent of his total effort, he’s All-NBA. Butler is already in that class. Wiggins will take on a different role and with his immense talent it could easily lead to a bump in his effectiveness.

Starting this season, the Wolves should make decisions during games and in the front office that are geared toward winning as many games as they possibly can. It’s weird to have to spell that out, but the NBA has a strange incentive structure that actually rewards losing for a lot of its teams. Few team “go all in,” because they have no chance at the title and want to position themselves to have that chance in the future. After acquiring Jimmy Butler, the Wolves are in the select company of “teams with multiple star players.” With great players comes great responsibility and the Wolves now have to accept theirs.

Question #4: What should the Wolves try to do with the rest of their offseason — trades and free agency — to follow up the Butler trade?

They clearly need more three-point shooting and depth.

A backcourt trio of Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler is probably not good enough at spacing the floor to keep defenses from effectively packing the paint and inviting bricks from the outside, much like what happened in Chicago last year. Unless Wiggins takes another step in three-point improvement (his percentage rose from 30.0 to 35.6 in Year 2 to Year 3; more on this below) they will have no good shooters in their backcourt positions. In the frontcourt, Gorgui Dieng has teased a corner trey in recent games but it has never seemed like something that will become a big part of his game. Towns is a great shooter from all over the floor, but they need more than their stud post player for floor spacing.

Ideally, the Wolves will find a better shooting point guard and a stretch four to play with Butler, Wiggins, and Towns in the starting lineup. If they renounce Bazz and opt out of Hill’s contract, they’ll have about $85 Million in committed salary, according to HoopsHype. Add in Patton and it’s more like $87 Million. Assuming Nikola Pekovic’s contract is removed from their cap number via medical retirement (this announcement should be coming soon) the number drops to about $75.5 Million. The NBA recently announced next year’s salary cap at $99 Million, which would leave the Wolves about $23.5 Million in cap room, assuming all of the above contingencies occur.

That isn’t as much as it sounds under the current cap, and the Wolves will need to add quite a few players just to fill out a roster.

The general plan of action to improve the overall situation might be to acquire a good starter who can shoot threes at either the 1 or 4 position to both improve the shooting and floor spacing of the starting unit and to significantly improve the bench, by sending either Rubio or Gorgui to it. Beyond that, they’ll have to explore trades and/or hope for internal improvement from guys like Tyus (who improved a ton from Year 1 to 2, but still has a ways to go to be considered a reliable good-team rotation player) and Bjelica.

One tangent worth exploring about the shooting issue involves Wiggins. With Butler now in the rotation and presumably handling a lot of the playmaking responsibilities from the wing, it’s possible that Wiggins will be positioned in new, choice real estate that he has rarely visited in the past:

The corner three.

Last season, Wiggins attempted just 31 corner treys. The year before, he shot just 30 times from the corners. And the year before that, as a rookie, he took 32 corner treys. Through three seasons, Wiggins has not spent much time as a spot-up corner shooter; the place where many wings develop their perimeter shooting stroke. For a couple wing comparisons, last year Kawhi Leonard took 63 corner threes and Klay Thompson took 180 of them (!).

Wiggins has very good shooting form and it’s reasonable to expect improvement in his accuracy from downtown as his career progresses. One way that he might take an immediate leap in this department is camping out in the corners when Butler is driving and looking to dish. If he hones that skill and jacks up 50, or even 100 corner treys next year, maybe his three shooting will become a strength and the team’s will not seem like such a collective weakness.

Anyway, those are some thoughts about the trade and what might follow it. This offseason is certainly not over for the Wolves. Along with following Patton in the summer league, there will be a lot of roster activity in free agency and probably a trade or three.

Stay tuned.

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23 thoughts on “Four Questions that Follow the Jimmy Butler Trade

  1. I wouldn’t count on Patton being on the roster next year. He seems destined for at least part of the first season in the G League. Guy is raw and maybe practicing against KAT everyday is what he needs, but it seems more like minutes and he won’t get those on this team.

    Tend to agree ‘bazz is gone, but hope we can do sign-and-trade.

    Shooting has to be priority in off-season – both in FA’s but also in Wiggins’ development.

  2. Hill is rumored to want a max contract. Ricky makes 14 million. Hill have played more than 50 games once in the last three seasons. Do players in their 30s get healthier? Ricky has three seasons with less than 70 games. 2 of those seasons were his knee injury, and the third was his ankle injury, and a lot of his missed games in the ankle season were due to Flip tanking. Ricky averages 25% more rebounds, over DOUBLE the assists, almost DOUBLE steals, slightly less blocks, slightly more turnovers, higher free throw percentage, and Ricky is still improving at age 26 versus Hill being past his prime. I need someone to convince me how an injury prone 31 year old would be more valuable than Ricky at over double the salary, when Ricky is younger and better at most facets of the game. Also, please find for me how many teams have won a championship with their PG as their highest pay player. Derek Rose and Chris Paul sure have not had much playoff success.

  3. Rumors are hot today that Thibs is bound and determined to make sure Rubio is not on this team for the start of the season. Considering he’s a guy that you’re never going to get full value for, I’m curious to see how this plays out.

    1. You know what? Just trade him already Thibs, you don’t deserve him in your team…all these constant rumours about trading for Rose, Hill, Teague or Holiday as if we’re talking about Allen Iverson or Magic Johnson…no respect whatsoever…

  4. Lumping in David Robinson as one of Tim Duncan’s “vets” alongside Avery Johnson and Sean Elliott is…well, that’s something. Robinson was still that team’s best player and probably one of the 5 best in the league; he was a “vet” type during their 2nd title in 2003, but he was closer to MVP-level Robinson than 2003 Robinson in impacting the game. That lockout-shortened season is enough of an anomaly that any real lessons beyond Duncan winning early in his career would be shortsighted. Also, Duncan was 23 when they won the title, an age Towns will reach early in the 2018-19 season.

    I’m with BerkesBBQ on their plans to “upgrade” from Rubio. Look, if they want to bring in a cheap placeholder who can shoot, clearing up cap space for other upgrades, sure, I guess. All of the other options will cost 50% more or twice as much. For all the “What about in a playoff series?” questions about Rubio, it would be just as bad if a) their ball movement was choked off without enough facilitators or b) a guy like Hill was injured frequently enough that it lowered their chances to make the playoffs or forced them to rely on a 3rd-stringer if they made the playoffs.

    1. I agree with your statements gjk(and most of you who post your opinions here), but tell me, honestly… at this point, do you think Rubio has any desire to continue playing for this coach, for this team? For a franchise whose assistant GM just said that Rubio is going to have a great career with the wolves? I wouldn’t. Imagine hearing that and at the same time positively knowing that you are being offered around once again like a cheap item at some flea market…

  5. Another possible question worth exploring: could they play Butler and Wiggins as their forwards in small lineups? Butler’s rim protection numbers are decent, and in short stretches, he has the strength to play against a PF in the same way that Draymond Green has the strength to guard Cs. Additionally, though Iguodala is a long shot, a FA like him or Joe Ingles would provide some passing and stretchability to play without a backup PG at times in tandem with Butler. With the importance of shooting, it seems like they’d be as well off pursuing guards who can shoot and pass a little as they would PFs, since a guy like Patrick Patterson would have trouble staying on the floor against small lineups anyway.

  6. Jordan Hill has been waived. Rumours are the timberwolves are looking at Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague, George Hill and Jrue Holiday. None of them particularly fill me with confidence as the piece to take down the warriors. If we are so intent on trading Rubio at least hopefully we can get back a stretch 4 who can shoot and defend. I would like to see James Johnson maybe from Miami who had a pretty decent season last season, but I feel it will be Taj Gibson

  7. Rubio is a very good PG on the upswing (16,10,5 the second half of 2017) the hole is at the 4 so what do the Wolves want to do? trade their PG and pay the new one so much they can’t afford the upgrade they need at the 4.. /SMH

  8. Lowry would be good, if the Wolves could lure him in, but he’s not a spring chicken. I don’t see any other Point Guards who are obtainable who are worth bringing in over Rubio. If we can’t get Lowry, just add a good shooting guard or a stretch 4 – that’s more realistic.

  9. I wouldn’t overreact on the Rubio rumors. Thibsden doesn’t leak anything to the press, near as I can tell, so every rumor regarding the Wolves over the past year has been consistently from other teams or from player’s agents.

    Furthermore, if you listened to Doogie’s podcast with Brian Windhorst, Brian made an interesting comment that seems relevant here. He said that while trading for a player like Butler might be the primary goal of an offseason, teams don’t plan extensively for what happens after that. The likelihood of those deals actually happening is so low that teams game plan around them not happening. Since the trade actually worked, Windhorst believes (based on what he’s seen with other teams over the years) that Thibsden is actively figuring out an entirely new offseason plan this week before FA starts.

    If this is true, then it would make sense (and follow Thibs’ MO) that they would learn as much as they can about top FAs (something Glen referenced in the same podcast – the team wants to figure out how attractive they are to FAs now that Butler is on board), what the cost might be, exploring different schematic fit options, etc. So ya, I believe that Thibs probably is talking to Lowry’s reps and Jrue’s reps, etc etc, but doing so doesn’t mean Rubio is out. Thibs is a calculating guy, and he seems to have a pretty firm grasp on what the value is of different players, and thus far he only makes moves when it’s a clear win or upgrade for us (and this does factor in money, given how much of it they will need to spend over the next 3 years on KAT, Wigs, Butler, and potentially even Rubio).

    If we actually have a shot at CP3, then Thibs has to explore that. But if the options are Jeff Teague for $25 million per season, or Lowry at $30 million per season, I’m not convinced Thibs will act on that, given the other things that must adjust in the balance.

    Lastly, and I’ve said this before, but I don’t think Ricky particularly cares about the rumors. He cares about winning. I think it’s telling that down the stretch of the season, Thibs adjusted with some of his key players. No more point Wiggins. Ricky stopped taking corner three’s. In terms of players Thibs depended on, especially late game, Ricky was one of Thibs’ core guys last year. I think that’s far more significant than rumors from agents and other teams. I also think Ricky is cut from the same cloth as Thibs and Butler – a super competitive guy who’s not afraid of effort and work and smart basketball, and who (like I said) basically cares about winning and that’s it.

    It’s interesting because Thibs may have found the way that motivates Ricky by calling him out, by being hard on him. Ricky has never been a guy who needs attention, publicly, from his coaches. He likes to be pushed and challenged when it leads to winning. He’s been very consistent about that over the years. Thibs pushed him and challenged him, and (again, I think this is really interesting) ultimately called Ricky out about not taking shots for himself (instead always waiting to take awful shots late in the shot clock when all other options were gone). So Ricky started taking those shots, and post ASB he put up great numbers consistently (on still suspect shooting – it’s not like he suddenly had an unsustainably high FG%), and he suddenly looked like a guy who would fit just fine with what Thibs is doing. I’m not convinced Thibs has any desire to become Houston or GSW and rain threes. I’m not convinced that Thibs thinks Ricky can’t be our PG now and in the future. I think Thibs will always be looking to improve and find an advantage, but as a coach that is balanced (so far effectively) by the long term needs of a GM. Signing Lowry for $30 million per really hamstrings the team over the next 4-5 years. On the net, it’s more strategically advantageous to keep your effective and cost controlled PG and focus on building depth and defense and improving KAT and Wigs.

    Defense is what cost this team a playoff spot last year, not offense – three’s or no threes.

  10. Getting Lowry in place of Rubio seems like a good waste of cap space. If Thibs can get a stretch four or a guy like Gallinari, who can play the three or four, I think you would have the ability to pick up another scoring point guard for Rubio and be set. I think Rubio will not get you much for the team in trade with all the new point guards in the league. We have to hope that we work with one of the teams losing a point guard and send Rubio there for assets. I could see Denver wanting to unload Mudiay and maybe Darryl Arthur. Then you could pick up a guy like D Rose or Livingston for cheap. Next year, you shop for a SG as a backup to Wiggins and Butler. We look at Wiggins this year and decide IF he can expand his game to include a deadly corner three, now that he will be guarding the second best offensive player, instead of the best one.
    PF DRose or Livingston, Mudiay and Jones SG Wiggins
    SF Butler and Gallinari and Casspi PF G, Arthur and Belly (Gallinari would play some here too)
    C KAT, Patton and Aldridge

    1. Mudiay would be an awful pickup. DRose is a shell of himself. Rubio is the only one with a positive net rating, he has the highest TS%, is essentially tied for best three point shooting between the three, is the best defender, far superior when it comes to assists, superior when it comes to drawing fouls efficiently, and sports a low usage meaning he’s positively impactful for his team which frees open looks to go to KAT, Butler, and Wigs.

      We didn’t struggle to score points last year – we had the 10th ranked Ortg in the entire league despite our ‘terrible’ shooting. Yes, we need more shooting generally, but so much of the Rubio replacement ideas are more expensive lateral moves – trading a better scoring guy (so now we will have 4 high usage guys) who does everything else slightly to significantly worse than Ricky, at up to twice the cost. It doesn’t make any sense.

      Consider this thought exercise: Rank the following in terms of answering this question…
      …all else staying the same, the Wolves would’ve made the playoffs last year if…
      – they had a better defense (top 15 in Drtg, compared to their actual ranking of 27th)
      – they had a better (more productive) bench
      – they had a better scoring point guard

  11. I tend to agree with Biggity here. To put it in very simple terms, we have way too much roster to fill out to go out and get a Lowry or even Holiday and still put together a supporting cast/bench we can win with. We do need more shooting, but I think we need to do that with existing starters (maybe minus Dieng) and with bench additions. We do not need more scoring overall, though. So wasting a huge amount of money on a high usage, ball hog PG who would likely not be much of an upgrade in any other PG skills seems dubious. It would cost way more, limit our options filling the roster out greatly and possibly make us a worse/harder to balance team overall.

    1. I just posted over at CH about this (I’m Dr. Wolfenstein over there), but postASB Ricky shot in line with Jeff Teague and Jrue Holiday last year. Furthermore, postASB Ricky’s offensive boost appears to be largely due to taking more shots (a per36 jump of 63% more FGAs and 45% more FTAs without really adding any more threes), with only marginal improvements in his shooting numbers. I personally think this suggests that his offensive production is likely sustainable because it wasn’t created through some magical boost in shooting efficiency, but rather through (arguably) taking better shots when they’re there instead of taking terrible shots late in the clock when there are no other options.

      He even managed to boost his assist numbers to nearly 11 ast per36, and that is the main difference between him and the other PGs. Ricky is a superior distributor.

      So given all of that, is it better to replace Ricky with a similar guy who costs $6-10 million more and is older (with the exception of Jrue)? Or do you roll with Ricky and use that money elsewhere?

  12. I love Ricky more than most, but if Thibs wants to go in a direction where the “PG” hands the ball to Wiggins or Butler and then goes stand in the corner waiting for an open three, is Ricky ever going to be that guy? If that is the direction, than getting a guy that can hit a three is important. Either at the stretch four with ability to play the three (Gallinari) or a shooting point guard that can hit the three when they collapse on Wiggins or Butler. When you look at two guards, there just isn’t a lot of them that shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as many of the PG do. I think that is why you hear rumors that Thibs may want Lowry. I just think Klow is more of a ball hoarder than a guy like DRose or Livingston and will cost a lot more.

  13. Biggity–Haha, I read CH all the time but stopped posting there as it get a little cliquey there for me. And the yard long minutia arguments that resort to name calling happen a lot too… But also some interesting stuff there. I agree–I don’t think we have to worry about Ricky not being a scorer anymore if we use him correctly at all. It’s just that he’s not ideal in his limited 3 point ability. But that’s also true of Butler and Wiggins. I guess the question is, does this flaw matter THAT much? For all the stuff Rubio contributes, not to mention his experience and chemistry with these guys and his good contract, does it matter that he’s not a good three point shooter enough to go bankrupt chasing another PG? The guy can score some and gets to the line really well, and we have 3 major scorers in the starting lineup… It may also be that the attention our big three attract will make Rubio’s offense even better. He’s going to get even more open looks. I hope Wiggins is in the gym working on his 3 point shot all summer…

    As to Tom’s comments, I’ve been hearing some chatter about Lowry over at CH. There was a long, stats laden argument over him and for a while it focused on D. I guess numbers suggest that Lowry is a better defender than Rubio. I really doubt this… I wonder if these numbers are skewed by being on a competent D team versus MN which is decidedly incompetent. That has to taint everyone’s advanced stats… Either way, I never liked Lowry and his game. Yeah, I guess he’s a good player… It is also notable that he’s old and has been not very good in the playoffs. And he uses the ball. We do not need another high usage player. At all.

    The Rose rumors have been a source of nervous laughter for me… It’s such a bad idea that it is funny, but with Thibs homerism you never quite know. Honestly I’d welcome him if he came at the price of a bag of planting soil for the purpose of being a backup PG. Repeat, BACKUP. If we put our eggs in him as a starter, not even considering his game and it’s lack of refinement we’ve become used to from Rubio, we have to constantly worry about injury. The guy is not young and simply doesn’t have healthy knees (and hasn’t had them for a long time). Holiday is the only floated name (I’m not even going to dignify Teague talk with a response) I’m really OK with, but he’s like 90% redundant with what we already have with Rubio. And it is arguable that the remaining 10% actually makes Rubio the better player. As I was walking by the TV WCCO was putting out Korver as an option and that would be a good 3-pt bench specialist if he’s not too pricey… In other words cue the non starting PG ways to spend our upgrade money.

    1. Agree with you on the CH cliquey-ness. Can get a bit much from time to time. I ebb and flow on participating.

      I do think the three point shot thing is overrated by most MN fans, likely because we don’t take enough. However, if the point of the thinking about three point shots is that they are the highest ‘value’ shots, and that’s why we need more of them, then we haven’t pushed our thinking nearly far enough.

      Generally speaking, for an average to good shooter, the corner three is the highest value shot in the league. Most of our guys are 40% shooters from the corners as it is right now, with the constraint being that we simply haven’t looked for that shot too much. Adding Lowry or Reddick or whoever isn’t going to solve that constraint, right, because it’s a schematic thing.

      The next most efficient shots, tho, aren’t all other three pointers, they’re dunks and free throws. And this is where things get interesting with the Wolves, who posted the 10th best Ortg last year utilizing a ‘dinosaur’ offense. What are these guys really good at? Drawing a ton of FTAs, and putbacks or other dunks. So, one might argue that with the significant reduction in long 2’s (the least efficient shot in the NBA) and a healthy dose of FTAs and dunks due to our length and athleticism and certain PG, the Wolves’ offense should have been relatively efficient. Which, arguably, it was (again, 10th in Ortg).

      To me, you have to consider all of this, weighed against the cost of the contract and any defensive impact, when it comes to ‘upgrading’ at the PG spot. If Thibs has no desire to significantly increase his usage of the corner three, then which of the prospective PGs out there offers a greater value than Ricky (for the cost)? Again, this assumes that the basis of the emphasis on more three point shooting is the logic of adding more high value shots to this offense (which is really just adding more corner 3’s). You can’t dismiss FTAs and dunks with this thinking, assuming that ‘all 3’s’ = better shots (which isn’t true).

  14. Hopes for upcoming season: offense’s output comparable to last year, KAT and AW playing gritty defense, team playing all quarters at same level of intensity, finishing games, a competitive bench. Don’t think we need to hit a half court shot in free agency.

  15. I see that Utah has interest in Rubio. Hood, Exum and a number two was the speculation for swapping Rubio. IF Thibs is more interested in getting a big Four starters instead of bench depth, this would be a good trade. You add about $8 million to the pot and get a nice backup two guard and a kid who had similar potential to Dunn. If you took that money and got a Lowry your team would look like:
    PG Lowry, Jones
    Combo Exum
    SG Wiggins and Hood
    SF Butler and possibly Casspi or Rush
    PF G, Belly
    C KAT, Patten, and Aldrich
    That is our own four 20 point scorers plus G to start against the Houston and G State juggernauts. The bench is thin and young, but Thibs doesn’t seem to go more than 8-9 deep anyway.

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