This offseason, the Timberwolves needed to address two main things in free agency.
One was 3-point shooting, and the other was bench depth.
By signing Anthony Tolliver for his second stint in Minnesota, the Wolves can cross both of those things off their list.
Last season, the second unit was one of the biggest weaknesses of the Timberwolves. On paper, it looks like that group will be drastically better than a season ago. And the most-important piece in the group is Tolliver.
We can expect Tolliver to play somewhere between 20-24 minutes per game, which is what he called his “sweet spot” in training camp.
He’s coming off the best season of his career with the Pistons, averaging 8.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the field (career high), 43.6 percent from the 3-point line (career high and seventh in the NBA) and 79.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Throughout training camp, Tolliver has told us more than once that he’s going to let it fly from deep. After all, he did shoot 4.6 3-pointers per game last season. And if he’s hitting at a 40-percent clip from deep, everything tells us that Tolliver should get the green light.
One thing that should put Tolliver in a position to succeed is Tyus Jones. Jones is the commander of the second unit and is a traditional point guard who does an excellent job of setting teammates up.
When you think about a Sixth Man, you tend to think of guards. Only one forward has won the Sixth Man of the Year since 2010-11, and that was Lamar Odom. Prior to that, it was Mike Miller in 2005-06.
Tolliver has the position flexibility to play both forward spots and it wouldn’t be wild to see him move to the five if the Wolves play small ball.
He’s improved throughout his career offensively. He’s no longer just a shooter. He can put the ball on the floor and make plays and that’s something that he’s only recently been able to do which is incredible considering he’s 33 years old. Most players don’t continue to improve into their 30s. That speaks to Tolliver's work ethic.
While his offense will be what makes fans happy, his defense is what will keep him on the floor in Tom Thibodeau’s system. Tolliver is a smart team defender and is well-respected among NBA coaches.
He might not be a superstar, but the Timberwolves don’t need him to be. They need reliable play from the second unit, something that Tolliver seems well-equipped to give the team.