This week 2 teams decided to hire high-profile coaches to lead them to the next level. The Timberwolves went with Tom Thibodeau and the Wizards decided to hire Scott Brooks. What will this mean for their respective franchises?
For the Timberwolves:
This seems like a natural fit. A hard-nosed, defensive minded coach, to lead Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to the next level. He will make them instantly an above average defensive team. As well as mixing with the current role players on the roster, Minnesota could be among the elite in the NBA on both ends of the court. But let’s look at what immediate impact he will have. The Wolves have a lottery pick this coming draft, but with the amount of talent and potential already on the roster many are wondering if they will try to trade it. An option that has not been much talked about is Jimmy Butler. Thibodeau watched him develop from rarely used rookie to a star and it has been reported that he may have clashed with some of the veteran members of the Bull’s locker room. Perhaps this lottery pick plus some future ones and a combination of players (not including KAT and Wiggins) could pry him away, but it does not seem likely they can put together an appropriate package. So the change may be in their approach to free agency. While no one expects Kevin Durant to suddenly go there, some mid-tier options are available. Joakim Noah is an option, as he developed into a defensive force winning DPOY under Thibodeau and seems to be on his way out in Chicago. Signing Noah could add a valuable defensive asset, but most importantly, provide Thibodeau with an example and a veteran leader whose heart has never been questioned. If he his keen on slotting Wiggins at the 2, or even play him at the 3, there are talented and versatile wings on the market that could fit an area of need, such as Kent Bazemore and Nicolas Batum that could vault them into playoff territory. There is also the question of the point guard and whether he wants to handle the keys of the offense to Ricky Rubio. If he decides he wants to go with another player, Mike Conley could be an attractive option since he can effectively run and offense and is not a shooting liability as Rubio is. An even brighter future seems to be on this Wolves horizon after this hire. It shows a commitment that, quite honestly, they never seemed to show to Kevin Garnett.
For the Wizards:
This was supposed to be the season where John Wall and Bradley Beal would break through and lead a deep playoff run by the Wizards in the hopes of showing Kevin Durant they could become a powerhouse. They completely failed the first part, and to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, they have nearly fallen off the map in terms of their pursuit of Durant. The management is hoping that hiring the coach who helped him achieve stardom can put them back in the conversation. That still does not seem likely, but this hiring could prove beneficial even if it does not lead to landing of Durant. First, after watching this season unfold, it seems that the Thunder’s offense not being as fluid was not entirely on him. He did lead this team to the finals where no one can honestly blame him for losing with a team of young up and coming stars against the more veteran Big Three in Miami. After that run, most of their playoff appearances were plagued with injuries and we never saw their ultimate potential. His biggest strength likely lies in player development (just look at the improvement of Ibaka). Many believe he could “release” the athletic freak that Wall is in the same way he released Westbrook and transform him into a franchise cornerstone-like superstar (despite Wall already being on his way to that title). He can also help Beal, the same way he helped Harden, achieving his ultimate potential. While others such as Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter could benefit also from his expertise, Brooks best chance of success is in maximizing his backcourt play. The team has valuable contributors and will probably look to make moves in free agency (assuming they do not waste too much time in a fool’s errand pursuit of Durant. One positive point could be Durant telling his old coach right away of his intentions and be honest about their chances) to deepen this roster. In the Eastern Conference they look like they could make some noise and, while it is still too soon, if he can realize Beal and Wall’s full potential, Washington could make the kind of noise they expected to make this season.
By: Step-Back J