Minnesota Timberwolves: Taking A Look At The Deep Bench Players

Minnesota Timberwolves Bench

Apr 7, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Omri Casspi (18) looks to drive to the basket against Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack (8) in the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves finished 13th in the Western Conference last season. Adding depth to the roster is a priority for this upcoming offseason.

The first five players off the bench weren’t a strong point for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016-17. The last five off the bench struggled tremendously to contribute. The team’s lack of bench depth was a large reason for the Wolves having the least productive bench in the NBA.

Earlier, we covered the Wolves’ top 10 player rankings from the 2016-17 season. Today, we look at the last five players who made up the Wolves 15 man roster based on total minutes played.

The last five players for the Wolves played 1,002 minutes combined. To put that number in perspective Brandon Rush played 1,030 minutes, which was the 9th most on the team.

In addition, the last five ended the season with 246 points, 235 rebounds, and 48 assists—combined.

Looking at a deeper team like the Golden State Warriors shows how far behind the Wolves’ depth really is. The Warriors last five played 2,145 minutes during the regular season. That’s more than double the help the Wolves are getting. They also finished the season with 886 combined points, 575 rebounds, and 118 assists.

Lets take a look at how the Wolves’ last five did individually during the season.

Minnesota Timberwolves Bench

Jan 24, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Cole Aldrich (45) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 112-111. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Aldrich

Position: Center
Age: 28
Experience: 7 Seasons
2016-17 Season Averages: 8.6 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.0 3PM

Cole Aldrich played the 11th most minutes for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s an okay rotational player for resting the Wolves’ starting big men. He’s not a guy the Wolves can expect to come off the bench and put up big numbers.

Aldrich went to high school in Minnesota, so playing for the Timberwolves is a great place for him to be in his career. Before finding his way back to Minnesota, he played for six different NBA teams in his six-year career.

This offseason, the Wolves will likely upgrade their roster by adding a big man with starting capabilities. Once that happens, Gorgui Dieng will come off the bench. This will change Aldrich’s role on the team.

At the end of the day, Cole Aldrich is a big body who plays hard. He does what is asked and is a good role-playing center on the Wolves bench.

Minnesota Timberwolves Bench

Mar 21, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Omri Casspi (18) celebrates his basket in the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Omri Casspi

Position: Power Forward
Age: 28
Experience: 8 Seasons
2016-17 Season Averages: 17.1 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 3PM

The Wolves signed Casspi on March 20th, 2017. This signing was largely due to a season ending injury to Nemanja Bjelica. Despite joining the team late in the season, Casspi finished 12th on the team for total minutes played.

His style of play is very similar to how Bjelica plays. He filled in well on a short notice for the Wolves. If he was on the team for the entire season his total minutes played would have been in the top 10 on the team.

Casspi will become an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason. The Wolves should not pursue a return with him. Their focus should be on bringing in a big time power forward that can start in place of Gorgui Dieng. When Bjelica returns, there will be no need to Casspi on this roster.

Minnesota Timberwolves Bench

Apr 1, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne (33) attempts a slam dunk as Sacramento Kings forward Anthony Tolliver (43) defends. Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) look on during the second half at Target Center. The Kings won 123-117. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Adreian Payne

Position: Power Forward
Age: 26
Experience: 3 Seasons
2016-17 Season Averages: 7.5 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.2 3PM

Adreian Payne played the 13th most minutes for the Wolves. His career is progressing the wrong way since joining the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014.

In his first season with the team he played 24.8 minutes a game. That was followed up by his second season where he played only 9.3 minutes a game. This last season he dropped even lower playing only 7.5 minutes a game.

Payne was once touted as a young player with a high ceiling. That ceiling has dropped every single season. He shows flashes of improving but it has not amounted to anything promising.

The Wolves may not be the right team for Payne going forward. He will be a free agent this offseason. It will be in the best interest of both parties to move on unless he can show the Wolves he is drastically improving before then.

Minnesota Timberwolves Lance Stephenson

Feb 12, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Lance Stephenson (7) dribbles in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Lance Stephenson

Position: Shooting Guard
Age: 26
Experience: 7 Seasons
2016-17 Season Averages: 11.2 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 3PM

Lance Stephenson had a very short stint with the Wolves this past season. Despite that, he managed to play the 14th most minutes for the team.

Stephenson brought a high level of energy to the Wolves when he played. In the absence of Zach LaVine he played some quality minutes with his tough on ball defense and explosive ball handling. He could have eventually challenged Brandon Rush to start at shooting guard if he did not injure his ankle.

Due to the ankle injury the Wolves let him go after he finished two 10 day contracts. This was a mistake. The Wolves should have worked out a longer deal with him. He is a good talent at the shooting guard position. Injuries have just suppressed his production.

The Indiana Pacers ended up signing Stephenson after his time on the Wolves. He agreed to a three-year deal with the Pacers worth $12 million.

Minnesota Timberwolves Jordan Hill

Oct 19, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Jordan Hill (27) dribbles in the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) at Target Center. The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Memphis Grizzlies 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Hill

Position: Power Forward
Age: 29
Experience: 8 Seasons
2016-17 Season Averages: 6.7 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.1 SPG, 0.0 3PM

Jordan Hill came in at 15th for minutes played. In his 8 year career, this was the least amount of minutes he played with 6.7 minutes per game. In addition to minutes, he finished with a career low in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves clearly don’t see a future with Hill. He didn’t get a fair opportunity to contribute to the team at all. Unfortunately he is signed for one more season. Expect the Wolves to deal him in a trade to attempt to get a player they will use.

Despite this forgettable campaign, Hill has some solid NBA season under his belt. Most recently with the Lakers during 2014-15. He averaged 12 points a game and 7.9 rebounds a game. This was accomplished playing a career high 26.8 minutes a game.

Hill can still contribute to a team in need of front court depth. The Timberwolves should have no problem dealing him in a trade next year if they truly see no future with him moving forward.

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