As the Minnesota Timberwolves look to round out a postseason-caliber roster, Tom Thibodeau’s top target should be power forward Patrick Patterson.
Tom Thibodeau has firmly delivered on his promise to restore the Minnesota Timberwolves to relevance. There’s no telling how it will work out on the court, but the Timberwolves made quite the splash by trading for All-NBA small forward Jimmy Butler.
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In order to make good on the alluring potential of the roster that’s been constructed, Minnesota must flesh out the roster with quality complementary talent.
The Timberwolves will move forward with a promising core of Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. From a statistical perspective, that intriguing trio averaged 72.6 points per game during the 2016-17 NBA regular season.
All three also possess the physical capabilities for legitimately elite defense, with Butler already being a three-time All-Defensive Second Team honoree.
In order to maximize the potential of that trio, however, Thibodeau must next surround them with the ideal complements. The most ideal complements to Butler, Towns, and Wiggins would be 3-point shooters and defensive-minded players.
This list may be short, but a combination of the two talents would be of great aid to the realization of the Timberwolves’ postseason aspirations.
Kyle Korver turned 36 years of age this past March, which establishes the absence of remaining defensive value. That’s an unfortunate reality, but with Ricky Rubio and either Jimmy Butler or Andrew Wiggins on the floor, Minnesota could provide some relief.
Defense may have been the key to Tom Thibodeau’s success in the past, but Korver would provide a necessary—and familiar—offensive spark.
Minnesota finished the 2016-17 NBA regular season at No. 30 in 3-point field goals made and No. 20 in 3-point field goal percentage. That’s unacceptable for a team that will have two slashing scorers (Butler and Wiggins) and a low-post scoring threat (Karl-Anthony Towns).
Improved spacing will be the key to offensive execution in 2017-18, and Korver is the perfect player to provide it.
Korver is tied for No. 5 on the all-time 3-point field goals made list with 2,049 on 43.1 percent shooting. He also played for Thibodeau as a member of the Chicago Bulls’ beloved Bench Mob in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Korver has converted 320 3-point field goals on 42.3 percent shooting over the past two seasons, which is a sign that he’s still dangerous from beyond the arc.
Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins working the wings for what’s likely to be 35-plus minutes per game, the Minnesota Timberwolves will need help with spacing the floor. Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio could help in some regard, but Minnesota needs a true knockdown shooter.
Patrick Patterson checks that box as a legitimate two-way player with a proven ability to convert from beyond the arc on a consistent basis.
Patterson finished the 2016-17 NBA regular season at No. 9 amongst power forwards and No. 46 overall in Real Plus-Minus. He was also No. 26 amongst power forwards in Defensive RPM, which is a testament to his defensive value.
The Toronto Raptors recorded net ratings of +10.9 with Patterson on the floor and +0.9 without him in 2016-17—a difference of 10.0 points per 100 possessions.
As far as the need for spacing is concerned, Patterson has made at least 94 3-point field goals in each of the past three seasons. He has a penchant for stepping up in crucial situations with big shots, and is generally regarded as a player who’s good for the locker room.
With 41 games of postseason experience and an unselfish approach to the game, Patterson would be an excellent fit in Minnesota.