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Starting 5: The Future of the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet

1. The Minnesota Timberwolves are ready to take the next step – Chris Barnewall, Hardwood Paroxysm

The number of teams with a brighter future than the Timberwolves are very few. After San Antonio – assuming Tim Duncan is immortal based on prior experience – and any team with Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and the rest of the Timberwolves have a chance to be very successful in the near future. As Danny Leroux of the RealGM podcast put it, the Timberwolves will begin the 2016-2017 season with their best two players under the age of 22. Ricky Rubio will only be 25 next season, Zach LaVine has a chance to be a productive guard off the bench and they will have the ability to add another young player in next year’s draft. The Timberwolves may not be win many games this season, but they’ll be high on the League Pass rankings.

2. Nikola Mirotic and the Bulls Failed Tall-Ball Experiment – Will Gottlieb, BBALLBREAKDOWN

With the gluttony of big men on the Bulls’ roster, Nikola Mirotic found himself on the short end of the stick when it came to playing minutes under Tom Thibodeau. His play-making abilities and shooting on offense suggest he should play on the wing – where Thibodeau began playing him – but his inability to guard wings on offense caused him to share minutes with Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson last year while adding Bobby Portis to the rotation this year. With Fred Hoiberg manning the rotations this season, Mirotic could see more minutes and more of opportunity to play with starters causing an increase in production.

3. Inside The Numbers: Rest, Performance, and the NBA Schedule – Adam Mares, Nylon Calculus

Nylon Calculus started a video series discussing topics related to advanced metrics. This video dealt with rest and the performance of players on back-to-backs compared to when those players got at least a day of rest. It’s nothing new that most players struggle in expected points per shot, take more shots off the dribble and shoot earlier in the shot clock in the second game of a back-to-back compared to when those players get rest. Although players in the NBA are genetic freaks in most cases, they are still human. All except for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook seems to be impervious to back-to-backs, and gets mentioned by bringing up a game I was lucky enough to watch in person.

4. Don’t expect Julius Randle to light the world on fire right away – Yaron Weitzman, SBNation

The Lakers had one of the best off-seasons in the league for a team that probably won’t make the playoffs this season, but one of the biggest additions to the roster will be a player the team drafted in 2014, Julius Randle. With a full season to dissect him in college, Randle fell out of the top five draft picks, and the Lakers selected him with the seventh overall pick. The Lakers will see significant improvement from their roster this season, but Randle may struggle as he only played 14 minutes in his rookie season due to a broken leg. In general, rookies aren’t productive NBA players, and although Randle shows the potential to be a play-making big man, don’t expect him to impress early on.

5. Zach LaVine, and the quest to become more than “just a dunker” – Tim Faklis, A Wolf Among Wolves

LaVine made a name for himself by having an excellent showing in last year’s dunk contest, and apparently has dunks that he’s yet to unleash to the public. Although the dunks are incredibly entertaining, LaVine lacked most other skills to be a productive NBA player last season. He converted only 45 percent of his two-point attempts last season, his assist-to-turnover ratio was incredibly low for a point guard and his defense was miserable for a player with his athletic ability. LaVine played out of position last season due to an injury to Rubio and the depth at the wing position for the Timberwolves, so focusing on last year’s production to try and predict his future is unwise. However, LaVine did show some flashes for a 19-year old rookie playing against the deepest position in the league, and if LaVine is able to continue his growth as playmaker for the Wolves, he could be an excellent third guard for the team for years to come.

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