Gersson Rosas feels as though the Minnesota Timberwolves have made “significant progress” in reshaping the organization, specifically the roster.
With the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, Minnesota has a young, promising trio of high-end talent. Mix in players such as Josh Okogie, Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez, and the Wolves might have something here.
“Might” being the operative word.
“I love our group, I like the potential that they have,” said Rosas, the Timberwolves president of basketball operations. “But to be fair, it’s potential right now, and they’re young players and it’s a young team.”
Not even necessarily a good team.
The franchise has talked about the “momentum” it was generating after the 2019-20 all-star break, but Minnesota won just three of its final 13 games. To be fair, Towns missed 12 of those; you have to think the all-star center would have made a difference. Still, there is still little evidence as to how all of the pieces the Wolves have assembled will fit alongside one another. The roster looks good, but will it work?
The Timberwolves haven’t so much generated momentum as they have hope.
“We have more work to do, and I would put more of that on individual development of some of our players,” Rosas said. “This is a continuing evaluation phase. We have high hopes for our guys and we want to feel like we’ve got our core and our foundation in place, and we’re very confident of the moves that we made at the (trade) deadline and the guys that are in here now, how they complement our best player in Karl-Anthony Towns, but also complement our offensive system and, as we develop our defensive system, we’re going to find out a lot about this group.”
Which is what makes this offseason so important. Minnesota has much to discover about its roster, what guys are capable of and where the current roster can max out. Player development will likely play a large role in determining this team’s future.
“Can we do our part to help them become the best players they can be and can they fit in our organization and in our roster to maximize our vision? That’s the question that we have to ask ourselves every day,” Rosas said. “I hope that’s the case. I hope we have an incredible summer of development.”
Rosas’ said the goal, and that of head coach Ryan Saunders is “to take a step forward, to maximize our offense, improve our defense and come together as a team to have consistent success and take another step forward.”
That won’t be easy to do this offseason. Minnesota likely will go about nine months between competitive games after the NBA suspended play in March, then only invited the top 22 teams to Orlando, Fla., to resume play next month.
Exactly what Minnesota’s offseason will consist of remains to be seen. Rosas hopes the league and union come together to give the non-Orlando teams more “team-like” activities, which Rosas compared to NFL organized team activities, or OTAs. The Wolves want to be able to compete, whether that be in intrasquad games or with other teams.
Other teams around the league whose seasons are now over have expressed a similar interest
“We just want to create regular checkpoints over the next five months so guys can ramp up individually to a group setting where we can teach and emphasize our philosophy on both ends of the floor and give them the opportunity to grow and develop individually, in between those periods, so they can be ready for December,” Rosas said.
“We have our coaches setting out a strategy and an approach to do something that we have been forced to do,” he added, “but for a young team … hungry to get to work, it gives us the opportunity to get better, and it’s not just technique. You guys know our young guys. We’ve got to get stronger. We’ve got to get more athletic, more versatile.”