Minnesota The Timberwolves gave up 5 players and four picks for three-time defender of the year Rudy Gobert. They’ve gone all-in on him and on the roster, so what if Gobert doesn’t train in Minnesota?
While there are plenty of positives associated with getting someone of Rudy’s stature, the possibility of the plan might fall flat. However, Tim Connelly is one of the best basketball brains in the league. If he ends up digging a hole for Wolves, he could get out and put the team back on track.
Before we dive into some avenues Connelly and Co. can take in the wake of a potential Stifle Tower collapse in the Twin Cities, let’s take a look at what Gobert could do for this team on both sides. Gobert’s positives are obvious, but so are the shortcomings. As he relieves Towns on the defensive end and controls the glass on both ends, he can also bring DLo back to his Brooklyn days and bring out the best in Anthony Edwards. However, he can also be a potential obstacle in the paint, which could trigger adjustment issues for him and Edwards. Running two big players in a single formation can also lead to adjustment issues on the attacking side. Despite these issues, Gobert can bring what it takes to take this Wolves side to the next level.
Will we ever see 2019 DLo again?
After a disappointing playoff run for D’Angelo Russell, many were upset with his performance. Some even wanted to pass the 26-year-old guard. However, quite a few people, including me, still saw Russell’s talent and how important he was to Wolves throughout the regular season and the qualifying game. With the addition of Gobert, those thoughts come to the surface even more.
During DLo’s 2018-19 campaign with the Brooklyn Nets, he scored 21 points per game, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds on 43% from the floor and 37% on three in 81 games. Russell was the main man, leading a mediocre Nets team to a playoff berth and earning his first career All-Star nod.
Russell’s match with big man Jarrett Allen made him so deadly in Brooklyn. DLo is used to executing the pick-and-roll almost perfectly. However, he hasn’t had a solid partner to execute this set since he was in Brooklyn. But now he does in Rudy Gobert.
While Russell may have been the main calling card for this Nets team, he doesn’t need to be for Wolves. What he needs to accomplish, however, is his ability to hit open guys, especially in the case of Anthony Edwards. If Russell wants to be the 4th star of the Wolves team and earn an overtime with Minnesota, he will have to exploit his matchup with Gobert in the paint while finding open guys on the perimeter.
Does Ant have any other gear?
Adding Gobert to the roster gives teams one more threat to worry about. Although it only comes from the paint in Gobert’s case, the threat is still there. Having someone like Gobert can only bring out the talent in other players, especially Edwards… for the most part.
Again, Gobert will be involved in a series of pick-and-rolls. While the main focus of these sets will be to clear the way for him or the guy he’s riding with, the open wing points and corner shots will be there – right where Edwards will stand.
Gobert’s great passing ability is one of the most overlooked parts of his game. For someone like Gobert, who is over 7 feet tall and excels in paint defense, you wouldn’t expect him to be able to see the whole floor the way he does. With all of his work in the paint and attacking the rim, having a good read on the pitch is huge, especially with all the attacking talent on this Wolves roster.
I paint a picture in my head where Gobert rolls, draws two, kicks Ant, who pump-fakes and drives, putting another defender on the poster – Heaven.
While all of these situations sound good, a fit issue can still arise. Edwards makes his living attacking the basket, and while Gobert can complement Ant with his solid roll seal, there’s always a chance he’ll obstruct a potential open drive for Ant. If issues like fit develop down the road, what can Tim Connelly and the Wolves do to get out of this situation?
How would they explode?
The Wolves community is thrilled to add Gobert, but the thought of their vision failing is still on almost everyone’s mind. With the departure of key guys like Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, as well as the many draft picks, there doesn’t seem to be a back-up plan.
Wolves have just five draft picks through 2029, including three in the first round. Although it may not look good in advance, there is not much to worry about. If Wolves were to face a first four to get Gobert, they could get a similar run on the road.
So what are they doing? Gobert, Towns and Russell trade.
While Gobert is in his prime right now and could start to decline sooner rather than later, Towns and Russell are 26 and just entering their prime. If Wolves have been a consistent team in the playoffs for several years but have nothing to show for but a few series wins, they’ve probably squandered Towns and Russell’s bounties. In this case, the somewhat obvious solution would be to treat them both. This would add a significant amount of project capital and ceiling space. If Wolves go that far, they’ll likely move Gobert too. It is already 30 years old and would not fit the timetable for a reconstruction.
Don’t lower your head if it looks like Gobert isn’t clicking early. They will need time to start to gel on the ground. It can be just a few games or 15+. When adding someone like Gobert to a squad that hasn’t had someone like that since Kevin Garnett, it will take time for Wolves to get on the same page.
In the event of a potential rebuild, the focus would be on Edwards and Jaden McDaniels. Ant had a terrific season last year, collecting 21 points per game, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on 44% from the floor and 36% on three. However, McDaniels stood out the most for me last year. Big Mac is averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds on 46% from the floor in 70 games. While those numbers aren’t mind-blowing, his ability to impact the game at a very high level on both sides of the ball is remarkable. The talent between these two alone is enough to center a rebuild around them.
While the odds of something like a total rebuild happening are slim, the possibility is still there. I expect Gobert to reside in Minnesota alongside Russell and Towns for some time. However, if this does not come true, the Wolves are not married to Stifle Tower. Therefore, Minnesota fans shouldn’t lose any sleep over this.