Timberwolves

Who Should Replace Pat Bev In the Starting Lineup?

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Patrick Beverley trade positively impacted the Minnesota Timberwolves. When the Wolves traded Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pat Bev, it altered their future.

Culver struggled to be a league-average player, falling in and out of rotation as a young forward. It was clear his time in Minnesota was coming to an end. Swapping Culver and Hernangomez for Beverley turned out to be one of the best off-season moves of the year.

The Wolves finished 31-23 in the regular-season games that Pat Bev started. Although it was a formidable record in the regular season, the Timberwolves lost in the playoffs with Beverley as their starter.

Pat Bev finished with 11 points per game, 4.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in this year’s playoffs – a respectable stat line for the 33-year-old vet. But it didn’t matter. The Memphis Grizzlies beat the Wolves in six, and it may be time for Minnesota to look at adjusting the starting lineup.

Why replace Beverley?

The Wolves learned a valuable lesson in the playoffs: They need to surround Karl-Anthony Towns with shooters; otherwise, teams will double him. Until he can find a more effective way to sort through doubles, they need to punish teams in other ways.

Beverley only shot 34% from the three-point line this season. Teams would rather settle for a 34% shooter than a KAT possession. Fair enough. But the NBA is a league of counters, so how do the Wolves adjust?

Remove Beverley from the starting lineup. Although he’s a fan favorite, his lack of three-point shooting hinders spacing for Towns.

Malik Beasley

Malik Beasley is a candidate to replace Beverley. Beasley started 36 games last year but had his starts sliced in half this year. Malik averaged 16.8 points in the 18 games he started this season.

Beasley’s season was full of ups and downs. The same fans that saw him break the franchise record for most threes made in a game against Oklahoma City watched as he went 0-8 in Golden State. No matter how hot he was, the Wolves found success when he played well. Minnesota was 34-22 when Malik knocked down at least two threes.

He has also been developing into an average on-ball defender. Capable of stepping into passing lanes, Beasley is developing the tools to become an impact defender.

The problem is his consistency. If Malik could shoot 39% from the three more consistently, it would be impossible not to start him. Beasley is capable of it, too. There are times when Malik has been unstoppable. With his near-perfect form and excellent shot preparation, he’s poised to have a fantastic three-point shooting season.

Even when Malik was struggling, teams would never leave him open. When teams leave Beverley open, which they will willingly do, it creates the opportunity for them to double Towns.

The ideal Malik Beasley starting lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell

SG: Malik Beasley

SF: Anthony Edwards

PF: Jarred Vanderbilt

C: Karl-Anthony Towns

Jaden McDaniels

Jaden McDaniels showed out in this year’s playoffs, but was it a fluke, or is Jaden arriving on the scene. The camp that believes Jaden has arrived should also believe he should start.

His three-point shooting pales compared to Beasley’s, but he is no slouch from deep. He’s also becoming a fantastic rim-runner and DLo’s alley-oop mate.

He makes up for what he lacks in offensive skill on the defensive end.

McDaniels would add a much-needed burst to Minnesota’s starting lineup defense. Jaden showed the ability to wall up versus larger defenders. With KAT at the center position, the Wolves need to be able to help protect the paint.

 

Jaden also adds to the switchability the Wolves wanted to incorporate this year. The Wolves were not good at the switching defensive scheme this year, so Finch didn’t use it. Players suggested switching all year, but he stayed firm in his stance.

A lineup with McDaniels, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Anthony Edwards would also have incredible recovery ability on the defensive end. Those long, athletic wings would scramble all over the court on the defensive side of the ball.

The ideal Jaden McDaniels starting lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell

SG: Anthony Edwards

SF: Jaden McDaniels

PF: Jarred Vanderbilt

C: Karl-Anthony Towns

Another harsh reality the Wolves have to face is that a 34-year-old Beverley is playing 34 minutes per game next year is not sustainable. If the Wolves intend to play Bev 34 minutes per game again, they’ll be lucky if he’s 75% by the playoffs.

If the Wolves opt to replace Beverley in the starting lineup, it doesn’t mean they should significantly reduce his minutes. Although injury concerns will always loom, there’s no reason Pat Bev shouldn’t play 24-26 minutes a night as a sixth man.

Beverley did the state of Minnesota a solid by installing his DNA into this Wolves roster. Now it’s time for the old wolf to let his young pups take the reins from him. It’s not anywhere near the end for Bev, who just inked his new $13 million extensions, but it’s time to take a step down.

Even if he ends up playing only 26 minutes per game, Bev’s impact will still be just as immeasurable.

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