Timberwolves

What Is the Next Step For Josh Minott?

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Minott just finished his second season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the 21-year-old forward out of Memphis has been unable to crack Minnesota’s rotation. Still, many fans may find him intriguing because of his two-way potential and freakish athleticism. However, after a couple of seasons developing in Iowa, could Minott get an opportunity next season?

Minott’s time with the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s G-League affiliate, has been largely positive. He improved in his second season with the team, particularly on offense. Coming into the NBA, scouts considered Minott a raw talent with great athleticism. His time in Iowa has allowed him to develop into more of a complete player, and he’s even been able to show that during his occasional minutes in the NBA.

In the preseason, the Wolves gave Minott plenty of time to showcase his improvements from his rookie season. Minott earned a team-high in minutes in a game against Maccabi Ra’anana of Israel, finishing with 23 points. He showed his ability to affect the game in transition and his high activity on the offensive end. Minott proved he’s not just a dunker with lackluster offense but someone who can create for himself and play off others. Minott uses his athletic, high-energy style on both ends, which Wolves fans could appreciate as it’s reminiscent of fan-favorite Jordan McLaughlin. If Minott continually improves as a shooter, his intrigue will only rise.

The Wolves took Minott in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, and he has shown more promise as a pro compared to Wendell Moore Jr., Minnesota’s other draft pick that year. This has been particularly proven in their two Summer League showings, “garbage time” minutes, and G-League opportunities. Therefore, it seems like Minott has positioned himself ahead of Moore in the pecking order of candidates who could enter the rotation next season.

Kyle Anderson is entering free agency this offseason, which could affect Minott’s playing time. The Wolves coaching staff has immense trust in Anderson, and he expressed his appreciation for this in his exit interview.

“He’s trusted me with decision-making, to play my game and allow me to have the ball in my hands,” Anderson said. “That meant a lot to me because I’ve [come] across many coaches that haven’t let me do that.”

“We would love to have [Anderson] back,” Chris Finch said in his exit interview. However, due to Minnesota’s increasing financial barriers, there is a real chance Anderson will leave. The Wolves have the lowest projected cap space in the league and are one of four teams over the second apron, meaning while they can still re-sign players like Anderson, the only players they can bring in will have to be on minimum contracts. That will limit the likelihood of them bringing in a quality rotational player if they don’t re-sign Anderson. Remember that the Wolves also have the contract extensions of Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels kicking in.

Minott will have more opportunities to earn minutes if the Wolves move on from Anderson. While their skill sets differ, Minott’s gradual improvements could make him an intriguing option for Finch and his staff entering year three. Leonard Miller is seen as more of a like-for-like replacement for Anderson but is still raw in some aspects of his game, increasing the chance of Minnesota bringing in a replacement. Suppose Anderson departs, and the Wolves sign a replacement this offseason. In that case, there is still no guarantee that the player would be locked into a rotational spot, considering they’d be on a one-year minimum contract.

Last offseason, the Wolves signed former Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton, an attractive backup point guard option. However, Milton didn’t fit well in Minnesota’s system and eventually dropped out of the rotation. Minott has been in the Timberwolves organization for two years, giving him an advantage over players vying for minutes. He’s around the team often and plays a significant role in the same system down in Iowa.

Ultimately, does Finch trust Minott to contribute to a team with championship aspirations? Miller faces a similar conundrum. Outside of a few exceptions, Finch has yet to stick his young talent in the rotation since the Wolves have been a consistent playoff team.

It’ll be interesting to see if Finch takes a page out of Michael Malone’s book for next season. The Denver Nuggets head coach played 2022 draft picks Christian Braun and Peyton Watson in meaningful minutes this season. They had evident limitations and contributed to the narrative of this Nuggets team’s poor depth. Still, Malone played them through good and bad moments, which should set them up for a promising future in Denver.

Minott could handle a similar opportunity. He will likely go through his growing pains. However, it can set him up nicely for a chance to solidify himself in Minnesota’s plans alongside Naz Reid, McDaniels, and Edwards. It’s an option worth considering for the Wolves coaching staff.

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