The Minnesota Timberwolves have found the man that’s going to lead them to future success, as Tom Thibodeau inherits a young and talented basketball team. But what does Thibodeau have planned for the Timberwolves?
And how will he turn the franchise from a perennial lottery team into a playoff caliber squad?
It’s well known that Thibodeau is a defensive minded coach. During his five-year tenure in Chicago, Thibodeau never produced a team that finished outside the top-12 in defensive rating. In fact, during his first season as head coach, Thibodeau’s Bulls placed 1st in the category.
That’s a pretty impressive statistic seeing as Chicago ranked 11th the previous year.
The job in Minnesota will prove to be a much greater task than his transition to the Windy City. Thibodeau will have his work cut out for him, as the Timberwolves ranked 28th in defensive rating last season. It’s going to be a tough task for Thibs to get the Wolves defense to play at his level.
Although, the main issue Thibodeau faces right now isn’t team defense. He must first figure out what to do with the Timberwolves roster. While players like Towns and Wiggins are going to be mainstays in the rotation, there are a lot of uncertainties regarding the teams future rotation, especially when it comes to Ricky Rubio.
The future role of Rubio is a hot topic amongst fans in Minnesota. Does Thibodeau believe in the Wolves current starting point guard? The Timberwolves organization was frantically trying to deal Rubio during the trade deadline. Given Thibodeau’s sucess with a healthy Derrick Rose, he might want to use a more consistent scoring guard to run his offense.
Thibodeau must also contend with the Nikola Pekovic situation. Pekovic didn’t see the court much last season. And with such a young, fast-paced unit on the floor, it’s unlikely he will next season either. The 6’11 big man isn’t a free agent until the 2018 offseason, and his hefty contract might dwindle his trade value.
In addition to being named head coach, Thibodeau was also named President of Basketball Operations. His imprint will be heavily felt on this franchise. He’s got a winning pedigree in the NBA, and it’s something the Wolves need in the worst way.
The only issue with Thibodeau is whether or not he’s capable of handling both the head coach position, and the role of President of Basketball Operations.
Some may argue that Thibodeau is in way over his head. Analysts and fans also said the same thing about Stan Van Gundy when he took the same positions in Detroit. Although he’s gotten a once decimated franchise to the playoffs, and it’s likely a brilliant basketball mind such as Thibodeau can do the same.
The hiring of Tom Thibodeau was the best hire the Timberwolves could have made. He’s going to get the young stars to play elite two-way basketball. And while there is a lot of work to be done, Minnesota has the right man for the job.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on Twitter @dgentleman9288