Taking A Glance At The New-Look Wolves

Editor's Note: Beginning next week, Timberwolves.com will take a closer look at each of thew additions the Wolves added during a busy offseason. Seven of the 15 players from last year are still on the roster, and seven new additions have been added through free agency, trades and the Draft.

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There’s a good chance if you haven’t been following the Timberwolves’ offseason moves, you might have trouble recognizing half the roster heading into next season. That’s because of the 15 players on the 2011-12 roster, only seven are currently still signed by the organization. When President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said on the first day of the offseason that no one outside of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio were guaranteed to be back next season, he was pretty accurate in his assessment.
Next week, Timberwolves.com will take a closer look at each of the new offseason signees. Through trades, the NBA Draft and free agency, Minnesota has added forwards Chase Budinger, Robbie Hummel, Dante Cunningham, Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko, guard Brandon Roy and center Greg Stiemsma.
Gone from last year’s roster are guards Wayne Ellington and Martell Webster, forwards Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson and Anthony Randolph and centers Darko Milicic and Brad Miller. Forward Anthony Tolliver remains an unrestricted free agent.
One thing the Wolves are showing in their offseason moves is the need to bolster their wing play and their post depth, as well as adding a collection of guys who bring reputations of having particular skills. Roy was known as an elite scorer with big-play ability late in games during his five years in Portland. Stiemsma brings standout shot blocking ability. Kirilenko was a lock-down defender over 10 years in Utah and can bring a scoring presence on the offensive end. Shved brought a Rubio-like flair to his teams in Europe, Budinger is a strong perimeter shooter lauded for his activity away from the ball and Cunningham adds extra size and depth to the front court.
Kahn said last week he didn’t know specifically how much change would take place when he spoke in April about the upcoming offseason, and nuances of their moves like Roy returning from retirement and Kirilenko coming back after playing a year in Russia were unforeseen developments. Still, he saw an overhaul coming that could help the team make the step from rivaling for a playoff spot to a potential contender in the West.
“We didn’t know numerically how many numbers would change, but I did think this would be a summer of change,” Kahn said. “And yet the guts of the team, Kevin, Ricky, Pek [Nikola Pekovic], people like that will all be back.”

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The roster currently has a collection of able ball handlers in Rubio, Luke Ridnour, JJ Barea, Alexey Shved and Malcolm Lee, as well as an assortment of new wing players who will bring a fresh look to the small forward and shooting guard positions. Last year, those two spots had trouble with consistency offensively and often were hampered size-wise defensively as coach Rick Adelman played a pair of point guards together in the back court to add scoring threats.
Depth-wise, the Wolves seem to have more options heading into 2012-13.
“I think we’re a much stronger bench now,” assistant coach Bill Bayno said, adding the next step is figuring out a suitable rotation that can maximize the team’s efforts both offensively and defensively.
Bayno said if there is one more signing the team could make, he’d say it would be adding one more “energy big” that can help bolster the 5 spot and give Pekovic, Love and Stiemsma some extra depth. But as is, even before the Wolves explore potential options during “Phase 2” of this offseason, he said he’s excited about getting to work with this group.
“But then I think we’re set,” Bayno said. “Now it’s implementing our schemes, putting in the offense, getting people familiar.”