For the Minnesota Timberwolves, their offseason has already begun and believe me it hasn’t been quiet so far. Owner Glen Taylor has decided to move forward by letting go of David Kahn and bringing back a familiar face in Flip Saunders as new president of basketball operations. For Saunders, one of his very first duties will be that of solidifying the shooting guard spot.
Last year, the Wolves had to start point guard Luke Ridnour at that spot for a couple of reasons. Chase Budinger came in from the Houston Rockets looking like he could wind up starting, after getting acclimated to the team’s system. Unfortunately for Budinger, he was kept out for the majority of the year due to injury. Never having gotten enough time with the team for a consistent stretch. The question arises now whether or not if he will be the solution for Minnesota going forward.
This year’s NBA free agency period will feature a few guys that may intrigue the Wolves, such as Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo and a former Wolves guard in Denver Nuggets Corey Brewer. The two guys have been tossed around in discussions based on Minnesota’s plan at the shooting guard spot, but what happens if Saunders and company are unable to bring either of them in?
They may be able to check out other options in the free agent pool, which many assume will be done. Otherwise, is Budinger a viable option for head coach Rick Adelman at the starting two guard? He is a career 43 percent shooter overall and just under 36 percent from outside the arc, which isn’t too spectacular in comparison to the rest of the league. It’s what you would expect from a role player coming off the bench, but it may not be able to cut it as a starter.
The one thing Budinger has going for him is that he is still young, and he plays fairly smart most of the time. He has averaged only 0.8 turnovers per game for his four-year tenure in the NBA. He also has given his teams about 3.5 rebounds in just over 20 minutes played. As a shooting guard, that is actually quite impressive, especially for a guy who is spending most of his time out on the perimeter. Budinger definitely offers a few desirable qualities in a starting shooting guard, but just hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to prove it.
For the Wolves, they have a great core set up for the future if forward Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio can stay healthy and continue to further their chemistry together. Budinger may be an option for their most glaring need in the offseason, however, Saunders should absolutely explore his options. Saunders is given a lot of credit for bringing in former fan favorite Kevin Garnett through the NBA Draft, so don’t count out the possibility of solving this issue through that route. Whether or not Budinger ends up starting, I do believe the Wolves have a spot for the young guard and must keep him healthy going into next year.