Timberwolves Reacts Poll: How Should Minnesota Use Its Mid-Level Non-Taxpayer Exemption?


Timberwolves Reacts Poll: How Should Minnesota Use Its Mid-Level Non-Taxpayer Exemption?

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a poll of fans across the NBA. Each week we ask questions about the most connected Minnesota Timberwolves Fans and fans across the country.

Now that Wolves have officially started their free-agency party by re-signing Taurean Prince for bird money, the focus shifts to a variety of outside targets that will no longer include Dejounte Murray, who did so He was reportedly traded to the Atlanta Hawks.

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Strengthening the center rotation

Despite the draft of former Auburn center Walker Kessler with the No. 22 pick in last week’s NBA draft, Minnesota has reportedly expressed interest in adding another center, including reviewing the availability of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Given the unlikely nature of this move, given the cost of acquiring and paying the three-time All-Star, it makes sense that Basketball Operations President Tim Connelly and his front office would seek to add a big man by free hand.

Backup centers Isaiah Hartenstein of the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors were two viable options associated with Minnesota as a player in the Wolves price bracket who defends both at the edge and in space and also some distance on offense can create end.

Isaiah Hartenstein

Hartenstein played in 68 games last season and averaged 8.3 points on 62.6/46.7/68.9 shooting splits, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 stocks in 17.9 minutes per game, all in the center, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Los Angeles was 12.3 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than with him on the bench, good for the 96th percentile. Defensively, the Clippers’ opponents with Hartenstein on the ground registered a 3.7% worse eFG% (93rd percentile), but they also had a 1.9% higher OREB rate (24th percentile).

For reference, Naz Reid ranked in the 23rd percentile in terms of opponent OREB rate (+2.0%) while on the ground. While Hartenstein is a significantly better defender than Reid at 7-foot-1, he’s not much better off the glass, which is a key reason for Wolves’ interest in finding a replacement for Reid.

Chris Boucher

Boucher played in 80 contests for Nick Nurse’s Raptors last season, averaging 9.4 points in 21.1 minutes per game at 46.4/29.7/77.7, 6.2 rebounds, 0.3 Assists and 1.5 stocks. 64% of those minutes were played at power forward, while the remaining 36% were played at center.

Toronto had more success with Boucher playing the 4 if you consider his total minutes, but the Raptors’ best lineup that included Boucher came with him down center in a frontcourt of Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam and Boucher. While that’s more versatile than a Jaden McDaniels/Karl-Anthony Towns/Boucher frontcourt, it’s not far off, especially given how Anthony Edwards is playing defensively.

Similar to Hartenstein with the Clippers, the Raptors allowed their opponents to hit offensive rebounds with a 0.5% higher clip with Boucher on the floor, which ranks in the 42nd percentile according to Cleaning the Glass.

Both would likely see a longer run in Minnesota from their 17.9 and 21.1 minutes per game in their current situations. Each player can be deployed in lineups with or without cities due to their offensive prowess and ability to play in space, making them tempting targets.

To make up for the two Bigs’ inability to provide a clear rebound upgrade, the Timberwolves’ solution may very well be just an honest talk with Edwards, urging him to do six or seven rebounds a game. For someone as special as Ant, it can be a simple ask-and-you-will-receive situation.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets - Game One

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Added defensive versatility on the wing

If we’ve learned anything from this year’s NBA playoffs, it’s that you can’t have too many athletic, interchangeable defensemen playing in space at both ends.

Two names that immediately spring to mind for players who would suit the Wolves with their fast, flowing offense and aggressive defensive plans are Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II and Brooklyn Nets Swiss Army Knife Bruce Brown.

Gary Payton II

Payton II has been rumored to be just south of $7 million a year in play for teams like the Dallas Mavericks with their mid-level taxpayer exemption. A nearly $4 million raise could be enough of a selling point for the 2022 NBA champion to go to Minnesota.

He played in 71 games for Golden State last year, averaging 7.1 points with 6.16/35.8/60.3 shooting splits, 3.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.7 stocks over 17, 6 minutes a game – and still had little dropoff in the playoffs suffered a broken elbow in her second round.

At 6’3 and 190 pounds, Payton II isn’t the tallest option available to play on the wing, but he has a 6’7 wingspan and is a mad athlete who is very good at navigating screens at the point of attack. has quick hands and strong legs that prevent him from being set up by taller defenders and is a great playmaker both on and off the ball who plays well in a team concept.

He doesn’t offer as much off the ball as one would hope for in a full midfielder, but he performs extremely well, completing 77% (!!) of his 242 attempts at the edge this season and shooting 42% at 90 corners 3s. Payton II may also be somewhat redundant with Patrick Beverley, limiting the role Jaylen Nowell could play off the bench.

Bruce Brown

Brown is one of my favorite players in the entire league. He fights like hell on defense, has demonstrated the ability to protect 1-4 (and some 5’s in small ball formations with the wide margin to the short corner) and consistently made timed plays at both ends in the clutch for the Brooklyn Nets last season.

The former University of Miami standout played in 72 games for the Nets and averaged 9.0 points in 24.6 minutes per game on 50.6/40.4/75.8 shooting splits, 4.8 rebounds, 2, 1 assists and 1.8 stocks. He improved every one of those marks – while his minutes soared to 34.8 per game – in Brooklyn’s first-round streak with eventual runners-up Boston Celtics.

If Wolves decide to consider an improvement from Jarred Vanderbilt, Brown makes a lot of sense as a guy who can play the 5 effectively on offense but provides extra distance to the corners and the slots from where he is is an excellent editor. He’s the perfect backup player to surround Towns, Edwards and McDaniels and would be a better fit than Payton II as he’s taller, plays well as a host and goalscorer in PnR action and is better at handling the bullet as well. Some of the same redundancy issues exist with Brown, but make more sense to me than Vanderbilt given Vando’s no standoff.

Who do you have?

The Timberwolves are currently sitting at +5500 to win the 2023 NBA Finals at DraftKings.

Which player do you think would best improve Minnesota’s chances of bringing home a title next season if they were added to the roster?

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