Minnesota Timberwolves 2008-09 Fantasy Preview

Big Al is unquestionably THE MAN in Minnesota.

Big Al is unquestionably THE MAN in Minnesota.

All previews follow the same format. I’ll be going in depth only on the players worth owning in a standard 12-team league, followed by players who you might consider as injury handcuffs/deep sleepers. As always, it starts with the most valuable player on the team:

Al Jefferson (C/PF)

Helps: Points, Rebounds, Blocks, FG%

Hurts: FT%

Kevin who? OK, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to think Jefferson is making the folks in Minnesota forget about Kevin Garnett, but he is inching up on KG in terms of fantasy value.

As far as centers go, Jefferson is part of the upper crust. Not quite Amare Stoudemire or a healthy Yao, but he keeps improving and could the reach that level. Porbably not this season, but you never know. He made tremendous strides as a player in his first year with the Timberwolves.

Jefferson is a lock to average a double-double, with his scoring averaging in the low 20s, and between one and two blocks per game. The analysis can pretty much stop right there and he’s top 25 pick. But it gets better.

He is a career .507 shooter from the floor and while last season’s .721 free-throw percentage was below average, his numbers from the line have gotten dramatically better in each of his four NBA seasons. Jefferson shot .630 from the line as a rookie, .642 in his second season and then .681 before last season’s career high.

Don’t be surprised if he makes closer to 76 percent of his free throws this season (but don’t count on it either).

Where to take him: In the middle of the second round, around 20th overall.

Mike Miller (SF/SG)

Helps: 3-pointers, FT%, possibly points and assists

Coming off two extremely strong seasons with the Grizzlies, Miller was traded to Minnesota where he is the undisputed best overall perimiter player on a T-Wolves team brimming with young talent. That’s a good thing.

Although Minnesota won’t depend on Miller to carry the offense, which would lead to bigger cumulative numbers, they will rely on his ballhandling ability and outside shooting to support Big Al’s interior presence.

Consider that Miller has averaged at least 3.5 assists per game in each of the last two seasons and his FG% has been solid in each of the last four seasons. He could provide a ton of 3-pointers AND a high FG% as well as around four assists per game.

Miller’s FT% has always been somewhat erratic but he is a career 77% shooter from the line and doesn’t go to the line much anyway. He always seems to be perceived as just a 3-pointe specialist but will provide much more this season.

When to take him: In the fifth round.

Randy Foye (PG)

Helps: 3-pointers, Assists, Steals, FT%

Hurts: FG%

Although he will be the team’s starting point guard, Foye is not much of a facilitator. He has the ability to contribute some pretty solid assist numbers, but he is thinking about scoring first and could emerge as the team’s second-leading scorer to Jefferson.

Foye will likely sink around a couple of 3-pointers and collect about one steal per game. He has high upside in both of those categories but don’t expect him to carry your squad in assists – five per game is a safe estimate.

When to take him: In the seventh round.

Kevin Love (C/PF)

Helps: Rebounds, FG%

Hurts: FT%

One of the better rookie fantasy options, Love may be the starting power forward due to Minnesota’s lack of depth in the frontcourt. While his passing skills are well-documented, he is more likely to contribute rebounds and a high FG% while playing opposite Jefferson in the paint.

Expect around eight rebounds per game and a modest amount of blocks. His assists numbers may be good for a power forward overall, but it’s hard to expect more than three per game.

When to take him: In the ninth or 10th rounds.

THE REST:

With the additions of Miller and Love and the development of Foye, the rest of the Timberwolves roster is a bit of a dicey situation. Ryan Gomes is definitely a guy worth considering in the last couple rounds, but it’s not clear where/how much he’ll play and he doesn’t have spectacular numbers anyway. Rashad McCants was a solid scorer/3-point bomber in limited minutes last season. While his minutes won’t go up, he could still provide a very good late-round scoring punch. Sebastian Telfair is coming off his best season as a pro but mainly only helps in assists. Corey Brewer and Craig Smith should be left for only the deepest of leagues.

Be sure to check your league rules for specific position eligibility rules.

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Filed under Draft Strategy, Season Preview, Team Preview

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