The Minnesota Timberwolves entered February with a 25-25 record and looked like they would stumble through another mediocre season, like in years past. Instead, they flipped the clichéd script, concluding February with an 8-4 record before finishing the year 15-8 after the All-Star break with a +5.7 point differential. Minnesota made the playoffs for the first time since 2018 as the 7th seed in the Western Conference.
The Timberwolves lost 2-4 in the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies in a series they could have won if they hadn’t suffered a historic collapse in the fourth quarter of game 4 before buckling again in the fourth quarter of game 5. Perhaps Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards were just happy to be in the postseason after struggling so thoroughly the previous year. Or maybe their lack of playoff experience led to their late-game failures. Either way, Minnesota made a massive leap in 2021-22, and with only three unrestricted free agents on their roster heading into the offseason, they are set to run it back again with the same rotation next season, looking to make some real noise.
Below we’ll outline the Minnesota Timberwolves Current Players’ status for the 2022-23 season.
Karl-Anthony Towns - $33.8 Million
Entering 4th Season Of A 5-Year, $158 Million Contract (2022-23: $33.8 Million, 2023-24: $36.0 Million)
Just one season ago, fans and experts questioned whether you could build a championship-level squad around Karl-Anthony Towns. Sure, he was undoubtedly one of the most talented big men in the league, a true inside-out force capable of blitzing opposing defenses from beyond the arc or inside the paint. At the same time, he seemed more interested in playing video games than playing hard-nosed defense as the Timberwolves’ rim-protecting anchor.
Fast forward to this year, and Towns has laid most of the questions surrounding his defensive effort to rest. The Wolves All-Star big man still doesn’t offer the type of vertical rim protection as the top-tier defensive centers in the NBA, but he did enough. Towns ended the 2021-22 regular season with a 3.2 block percentage, good for 20th in the NBA and up from his previous seasons, while allowing opposing players to shoot 61.4% from less than six feet from the rim, -3.0% under their average field goal percentage.
Karl-Anthony Towns was a top-10 offensive player during the regular season, averaging 24.6 PPG and 3.6 APG while shooting 41.0% from deep off 4.9 attempts per contest. Overall, Towns was third in the league in points added by his overall shooting (211.2) behind only Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert, and the Wolves were +6.3 points per 100 possessions with Towns on the court.
Karl-Anthony Towns will qualify for a supermax extension if he makes either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team All-NBA this season, which seems likely with the year he had. Timberwolves management will jump at the chance to lock up their All-Star big man for the foreseeable future, no matter the cost.
Anthony Edwards - $10.7 Million
Entering 3rd Season Of A 4-Year, $44 Million Rookie Contract (2022-23: $10.7 Million, 2023-24: $13.5 Million Team Option)
Anthony Edwards, in only his second season, averaged 25.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 40.4% from deep off 9.5 attempts per contest while flashing takeover skills during his first jaunt into the playoffs. We’ve seen this movie before. Ja Morant put the league on notice during last year’s postseason, averaging 30.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 8.2 APG in his sophomore campaign before emerging this year as a fringe MVP candidate for the ahead-of-schedule Memphis Grizzlies.
Is Anthony Edwards ready to make the same type of leap in his third season?
Nobody can tell the future, but the signs are there. Edwards’s playoff statistics were excellent, but his confidence in clutch situations was telling. He hoisted 11 clutch shots during the playoffs, a mark that ranks third in the NBA and was easily the highest on the Wolves. Edwards went 2 for 11 from the field during crunch time (18.2%), which is admittedly ugly, but that’s the point. He clanked shot after shot but didn’t shy away from his next attempt, afraid of what the fans or media would say. Anthony Edwards is a 6-4, 225-pound wing with linebacker strength and point guard handles who drives to the basket like a young LeBron and features a sweet stroke from outside, which is impressive. More impressive, though, was the way he took the pressure of the playoffs and the way his Timberwolves continually collapsed in crunch time to the more experienced Grizzlies and shrugged it off, still willing to launch in crunch time.
Anthony Edwards is a surefire All-Star, but his willingness to shoot and miss in the playoffs, like many past young and talented players who eventually became legends, could mean he has top-5 potential in the near future.
D’Angelo Russell- $31.4 Million
Entering Final Season Of A 4-Year, $117 Million Contract
D’Angelo Russell is a solid third wheel, albeit an expensive one.
Russell averaged 18.1 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 3.3 RP while shooting 34.0% from deep for the Timberwolves during the regular season. Russell offers a top-30 off-the-dribble mid-range game and playmaking, and he worked well off Towns and Edwards.
Still, there were several problems with Russell’s skill-set. He took over 50% of his shot attempts from beyond the arc during the regular season, acting as a floor-spreading guard for Anthony Edwards’s drives to the rim or for Karl-Anthony Towns to work in the lane, but he connected at a below-average clip. The Memphis Grizzlies routinely sagged off Russell during their first round series against the Timberwolves, making things difficult for Towns and Edwards and living with an open D’Angelo three-pointer; a strategy that worked time and time again.
D’Angelo Russell also struggled on the less fun end. Despite teammate Patrick Beverley routinely guarding the opposing squad’s most effective backcourt scorer, Russell ended the season with a -1.5 Defensive Box Plus/Minus while allowing his assignments to shoot 46.4% from the field.
D’Angelo Russell will enter next season in the final year of his contract. The Timberwolves would be wise to explore the trade market, trying to import a more defensive-minded point guard who can help them improve upon their 13th ranked defense.
Malik Beasley - $15.6 Million
Entering 3rd Season Of A 4-Year, $60 Million Contract (2022-23: $15.6 Million, 2023-24: $16.5 Million Team Option)
Malik Beasley averaged 12.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, and 37.7 3P% during the regular season as a backup wing for the Timberwolves.
Malik Beasley profiles as a prototypical 3-and-D player, but he doesn’t actually shoot the ball well from deep or play above-average defense. Beasley took 74.9% of his shots from beyond the arc in 2021-22 and ended the season ranked 62nd in the league in three-point shooting while offering next to no playmaking or rim pressure. At the same, he had a -1.5 DBPM and allowed his assignments to shoot 0.6% over their normal average for the season.
Malik Beasley is, in essence, a low-tier backup 3-and-D wing who is set to earn $15.6 million next season. The Timberwolves should look to trade Beasley during the offseason for a more effective defensive wing. He has a team option for the 2023-24 season, meaning he’s effectively on an expiring contract, which could be of value to one of the rebuilding teams throughout the league.
Patrick Beverley - $13.0 Million
Patrick Beverley is your quintessential love/hate player. Minnesota Timberwolves fans have grown to love Beverly while the rest of the league vacillates from feelings of mild dislike to utter loathing. Whether you live in Minnesota or outside its snowy confines, one thing is clear: Beverly has become the Timberwolves’ defensive mascot.
Patrick Beverley ended the season ranked in the 87th percentile in Dunks and Threes Estimated Defensive +/- and had a 2.1 Defensive Box Plus/Minus, the highest mark out of the Timberwolves’ main rotation players.
In today’s NBA, perimeter defenders are incredibly valuable, and Patrick Beverley is a top-20 ballhawk, a player who thrills at slowing down the opposing squad’s most talented offensive guard. The Timberwolves extended Patrick Beverley through the upcoming season, and although he’s on the wrong side of 30, they’d be wise to keep him for the next several years.
Jaden McDaniels - $2.2 Million
Entering 3rd Season Of A 4-Year, $10 Million Rookie Contract (2022-23: $2.2 Million, 2023-24: $3.9 Million Team Option)
Jaden McDaniels, 21, is a springy 6-9 power forward with a 6-11.5 wingspan and an 8-11 standing reach who offers the type of defensive potential next to Karl-Anthony Towns that could transform the Timberwolves into a top-10 defensive team as soon as next season.
Jaden McDaniels finished the 2021-22 season ranked fourth in the NBA in opposing field goal percentage at the rim with a 51.1% mark (minimum 150 total field goals defended). McDaniels’s 51.1% mark wasn't a small sample size outlier either. He defended 284 field goal attempts within six feet of the basket, more than the Celtics’ Robert Williams III and only a handful less than the Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson. Simply put: McDaniels was one of the league’s premier rim protectors during the regular season.
Jaden McDaniels tends to get bullied on the block by bulkier players, and he needs to work on his rebounding (4.2 RPG) and shooting stroke (31.7 3P%).
Still, if McDaniels hits the weight room and works on his jumper over the summer, he should come back next season ready to become a big-time contributor for the Timberwolves.
Jarred Vanderbilt - $4.4 Million
Entering 2nd Season Of A 3-Year, $13 Million Contract (2022-23: $4.4 Million, 2023-24: $4.7 Million)
Jarred Vanderbilt was a solid player for the Timberwolves during the regular season, starting 67 games while averaging 6.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG. Vanderbilt did the dirty work for Minnesota last season, crashing the boards and playing tough-nosed defense. With McDaniels’s emergence in the postseason, the Wolves might feature a starting lineup of D. Russell, P. Beverley, A. Edwards, J. McDaniels, and K. Towns next year, which would push Vanderbilt to a bench role.
Whether or not Vanderbilt starts or comes off the bench in 2022-23, he’s an excellent contributor who does all the little things necessary to win and should have a prominent role.
Naz Reid – $1.9 Million
Entering Final Season Of A 4-Year, $6.1 Million Contract
Naz Reid has given the Timberwolves steady backup center play over the last three seasons. Reid is a top-tier rim protector with a 5.6 block percentage in 2021-22, a mark that would have been sixth in the NBA if he’d played enough to qualify for the leaderboard. Reid is also a capable floor-spreading big man (34.3 3P% in 2021-22) who rolls to the rim hard after setting a screen.
Reid will enter the final year of his contract next season. The Wolves would be wise to hand him an extension during the offseason, locking him up for the next four to five years.
Taurean Prince - Unrestricted Free Agent
Taurean Prince averaged 7.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 1.0 APG while shooting 37.6% from deep in 2021-22, and at 6-7, 218-pounds has the size to bother the league’s top offensive wings. Prince was a more effective long distance shooter and defender than Malik Beasley during the regular season. 3-and-D wings are all the rage in the NBA, and hard to come by, which means the Wolves should look to sign him to another contract over the summer; a two-year, $5 million deal seems fair.
Jordan McLaughlin - $2.2 Million
Entering 2nd Season Of A 3-Year, $6.5 Million Contract (2022-23: $2.2 Million, 2023-24: $2.3 Million)
Jordan McLaughlin is a 5-11 point guard who struggles to connect from deep (31.8 3P% in 2021-22). Nevertheless, he has become a fan favorite in Minnesota behind his quick-as-lightning flashes to the rack and 120% defense. Despite McLaughlin’s limitations as a player, he has a +10 net rating and should remain a fixture in the Wolves rotation for the next few seasons.
Jaylen Nowell - $1.9 Million
Entering Final Season Of A 4-Year, $4.7 Million Contract
Jaylen Nowell averaged 8.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 2.1 APG while shooting 39.4% from deep in 2021-22 as the Wolves’ backup shooting guard. Nowell struggled at times during the regular season to contain his man on the perimeter but is still a solid option for the Wolves off the bench next year.
Greg Monroe - Unrestricted Free Agent
Greg Monroe played for four teams in 2021-22, Utah, Milwaukee, Washington, and Minnesota, averaging a combined 5.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.6 APG. Monroe played a total of seven minutes during the playoffs for the Timberwolves, and it’s difficult to see them extending him another contract for next season.
Josh Okogie - $5.9 Million (Qualifying Offer)
Josh Okogie averaged 2.7 PPG, 1.4 RPG, and 0.5 APG in a mostly garbage-time role during the 2021-22 season. There is next to no chance the Timberwolves will pay Okogie $5.9 million next season as an end-of-the-bench shooting guard.
Leandro Bolmaro - $2.5 Million
Entering 2nd Season Of A 4-Year, $11.8 Million Rookie Contract (2022-23: $2.5 Million, 2023-24: $2.6 Million Team Option, 2024-25: $4.4 Million Team Option)
Leandro Bolmaro, a small forward from Argentina, was the Timberwolves’ first-round draft pick last season. He saw next to no action, playing in only 241 minutes per game while averaging 1.4 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.6 APG, and 27.8 3P%. Unless Bolmaro hits the lab hard during the offseason showing exceptional all-around improvement during the preseason, he’ll likely relax at the end of the bench again next year before the Timberwolves decline his 2023-24 team option.
Jake Layman - Unrestricted Free Agent
Jake Layman will enter the offseason as an unrestricted free agent who averaged 2.4 PPG while shooting 22.9% from deep and 41.1% overall from the field. It's highly unlikely the Timberwolves will re-sign him.
The Timberwolves Will Most Likely Run It Back Again Next Season
The Timberwolves have their main rotation signed through at least next season, which means, barring an out-of-nowhere trade, they’ll basically bring back the same team next season. And that’s a good thing.
The Timberwolves showed excellent improvement with their young core during 2021-22. Karl-Anthony Towns is a perennial All-Star, and Anthony Edwards looks ready to transform into a superstar next season. D’Angelo Russell and Patrick Beverley are stable backcourt players, and Jaden McDaniels flashed two-way upside throughout the year.
The Clippers and Nuggets will be healthy next season, and the Suns, Warriors, Grizzlies, and Mavs aren’t going anywhere. Nonetheless, the Wolves should find themselves squarely within the playoff picture in the Western Conference with a chance to advance out of the first round.