Everyone expected the Minnesota Timberwolves to be one of the most-improved teams in the NBA after they acquired Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, and they haven't disappointed through the first 20 games, posting a 12-8 record in a stacked Western Conference.
Minnesota's starting five - Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, and Butler - is one of the most formidable in the NBA, but the talent level on the squad severely drops off after that. The Timberwolves' bench is among the worst in the league in several key offensive statistical categories, including points per game (26th), rebounds (28th), and assists (28th).
Without question, Minnesota will need to add depth at some point of the season if it hopes to seriously contend with the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets, among others, in the playoffs.
Here are three players the Timberwolves could realistically acquire to solve their depth issues:
Lou Williams - Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have been a disaster since Chris Paul left for Houston, and now Blake Griffin is out for up to eight weeks due to injury. Los Angeles is on the verge of a full rebuild around its star power forward, and that means Williams could be on the trade block. The former Sixth Man of the Year is an absolute weapon off the bench with his slashing and pure shooting ability, and he's affordable too. The 31-year-old is making $7 million U.S. and is in the final year of his contract, making him an ideal rental player for a contender. Williams is averaging 18.6 points per game to this point, which would easily eclipse his career high in the category if he can keep the momentum going.
Jahlil Okafor - Philadelphia 76ers
The alienated Sixers big man is just itching to get out of Philadelphia, and he'd fit right in behind Gibson as a reserve at power forward. Okafor's trade value is at an all-time low since he was banished from the rotation, and he'll have something to prove once he's given a new life elsewhere. Minnesota wouldn't likely need to part with a first-round pick, or deal anyone significant off the roster in order to acquire Okafor's services. He's in the final year of his rookie deal, and like Williams, will hit the free-agent market after this season.
Tyson Chandler - Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have already sent Eric Bledsoe packing, and now they have an issue with too many big men on the roster. Chandler, 35, offers plenty of experience and toughness, but with Phoenix destined for another miserable season, he will definitely be shopped leading up to the trade deadline. He carries a hefty $13-million price tag, and is still under contract for next season as well, which could make him tricky to move. Chandler is a double-double machine, and he'd provide some insurance behind Towns, who is already logging heavy minutes.