A New Sheriff With Towns: Minnesota Timberwolves Fantasy Outlook

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A lot of things happened this offseason in the NBA with several stars changing teams in a flurry of trades, free agency, and more trades. This preseason, we'll be looking at the teams that have seen the most change and asking how we should value the players on their new-look rosters.

The Minnesota Timberwolves finished 31-51 last season, with a core group of young players, and in one offseason, have set their sights on making a playoff run. This is due in large part because they traded for three time All-Star Jimmy Butler.

On June 22, the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler and a pick to Minnesota for Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. With these changes happening, the question becomes, what will the Timberwolves offense look like? Well, let’s get into some stats from last year, and a bit of speculation on how the new team will flow.

Editor's note: Purchase any NBA Lineup Optimizer pass (including daily DFS cheat sheets), and you also get access to NFL and NHL Optimizers and DFS cheat sheets.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Fantasy Outlook

Jimmy Butler has averaged 20 points per game or more for the past three seasons, and had a 28.4% usage rate last season. Butler is a phenomenal defender, and a true wing player that can put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket, but also put up from deep. Due to some injuries and overall, below average skill from the Bulls last season, Butler was a triple-double threat any night. He comes to a team with two budding young superstars, so his usage may take a slight dip, but is still a top option.

On the other side, we have Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, who had a 30.9% usage rate, and a 29.4% usage rate, respectively. A one-two punch, which before this trade, were set to lead this team for the foreseeable, but now have a “veteran” added to the mix. Long story short, this team now has three potential All-Stars. Who will take the lead, who will fall back, and how does this impact them in the fantasy realm?

The starting lineup should look something like this:

PG - Jeff Teague
SG - Jimmy Butler
SF - Andrew Wiggins
PF - Taj Gibson or Gorgui Dieng
C - Karl-Anthony Towns

Teague and Gibson will be solid role players, and are worthy picks for season-long fantasy leagues, as they will see plenty of utility as an offshoot of having three superstars on their team. Teague is more of a traditional point guard, and is pass first, which can always be beneficial on a team that has three scorers who should average over 20 points a game. In a season long format, you will want to aim high to get one of the elite point guards, but Teague makes a great second string guy, who will produce plenty throughout the year.

The next set of players to look at it Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng. Gibson is now one of the veterans on the team, and one who has plenty of familiarity playing along side Jimmy Butler, and under coach Tom Thibodeau. Gibson isn't a big time scorer, as he has only averaged 10 points or more in three of his last five seasons. He also brings a strong defensive presence, although that doesn't translate directly to the fantasy realm. While he make lack pure scoring, he brings plenty of rebounds and a high field goal percentage, which can help you in season long head to head leagues. Dieng has averaged 10 or more points in each of his last two season, along with seven or more rebounds in his last three. Dieng has the benefit of being younger than Gibson, and is currently listed as the the 9th overall power forward, according to ESPN. Dieng has been improving year to year, but we may see his production slip due to the addition of Jimmy Butler. There is no doubt he is still a good fantasy option, but is ceiling may be limited now that the ball will be spread around more. He will also be competing for playing time against Taj Gibson, but rotation is all speculative as of now.

Towns comes into this year as the clear number one option at center, and a case could be made for him a first overall pick worthy. He is young, has played two years in the league injury free, and averaged a double-double in both of his season. As there are fewer and fewer true big men in the NBA, Towns will set himself apart as an old school center, who will be consistent night in and night out, therefore making him a hot commodity. If you are in a season long league, or any type of keeper league, Towns is a surefire pick for consistency long term. There is no doubt we may see each players individual stats take a minor hit, but the sum will be greater than their parts.

Jimmy Butler has maintained himself as a top real life NBA player and a top fantasy player over the past few seasons, and we should be expecting much of the same this season. There is no doubt Butler is an elite option in any type of fantasy league, and shouldn't be passed on if you have the chance to draft him. We may seem Butler develop into more of an on court leader, where he defers the ball to teammates, but in doing so, he can become a more well rounded fantasy player.

Wiggins is currently listed as the eighth best shooting guard according to ESPN fantasy roto rankings, and that seems about right for him. He has yet to come close to his peak, and at only 22 years old, the future is bright for him. Wiggins has the most to gain from playing alongside Jimmy Butler, as he can model his game after one of the great wing players in the league. Wiggins has a strong game, but its also clear that he needs a bit of refinement in certain areas. The addition of Butler will give him space to create opportunities off the ball, which can lead to him developing all parts of his game, which will make him an amazing fantasy option.

Overall, the Timberwolves present three top fantasy options, along with a cast of role players, who are set to have successful seasons in their own right. Whether you play season long, or daily fantasy, the Timberwolves are a team to keep an eye one, because they have production at all five positions, and are primed for the future in a competitive Western Conference.

 

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