When you have Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns to build around, the future of your team is very bright. Add in some unique talents like Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones and Zach LaVine and you have the recipe for a great team in the future. The Minnesota Timberwolves have all of these pieces in addition to the veteran leadership of Kevin Garnett. But on Wednesday, they may have added the most important piece of all.
Tom Thibodeau agreed to terms with the Wolves to take over as both head coach and president of basketball operations. This is something of a homecoming for the former Bulls coach, as he started his coaching career in Minnesota under Bill Mussleman back in 1989.
Thibs has a lot to bring to the table now though. He was an assistant for the Knicks toward the end of Patrick Ewing’s career, including the improbable run to the finals in ’99. He then went to Houston before landing in Boston as an assistant to Doc Rivers during the Celtics’ championship season. He then finally got his chance to take the top job in Chicago in 2010, where he won Coach of the Year in his first season.
Now that guy takes over in Minneapolis, where the Wolves haven’t made the playoffs in a dozen years. They have two former number one overall picks and a ton of potential. Thibodeau is tasked with forming this into a contending team in the next few years.
The first thing that he will overhaul is the defense. Thibodeau’s teams are always known for relentless defensive intensity. Four out of his five years in Chicago, the Bulls finished in the top three for opponents’ points per game and the top ten for defensive rating. Minnesota ranked tied for 23rd in points per game allowed and 28th in opponents’ field goal percentage. In addition to being the leader this young team needs, Thibodeau will fix this team’s reeling defensive efforts.
With a roster already dripping with potential, Minnesota likely has a top-five pick again this year, finishing the season fifth in lottery odds. If the Timberwolves enter the draft picking the fifth, they have a chance to add another high-end lottery pick to a roster already loaded with them. Buddy Hield, Dragen Bender or Kris Dunn all could be playing under Thibs next year and they all could be coming off the bench.
Thibodeau understands the importance of adding veterans and role players, which means I have no doubt he will build around the core he currently has.
The front office got another boost too with the hiring of assistant Spurs General Manager Scott Layden. You know, San Antonio. The team that has missed the playoffs once since 1989 and won five titles in a 15-year span.
The Wolves organization finally put talent in the front office and on the sidelines to match the future talent they have playing on the court right now. Give it about three years and this team will be a title contender. Sky is the limit with what Minnesota could achieve with Thibodeau at the helm.