The Minnesota Timberwolves have arrived. The team is fresh off a run all the way to the Western Conference Finals in the 2024 NBA Playoffs, where they ended up losing to the Dallas Mavericks. And while that loss was a tough pill to swallow, this is the first time since the Kevin Garnett era where basketball is alive and well in Minnesota.

The Timberwolves are led by superstar wing Anthony Edwards, and they have several other valuable contributors in their starting lineup. From a roster-building perspective, Minnesota is in an enviable spot. The Wolves don’t have the cap space to go after any of the big-name free agents such as Paul George this offseason, but the good news is that they don’t need a player like that to fill out their roster right now.

So, what do the Wolves really need? With their starting lineup largely intact, their offseason work in free agency will be focused on finding a way to round out their rotation by adding a couple of contributors off the bench. Luckily enough for Minnesota and their fans, there are several players available in free agency who will be affordable and who fit what they are looking for perfectly.

Markelle Fultz

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz (20) brings the ball up court during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Amway Center.
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Minnesota doesn’t need a star to improve their bench unit. Rather, they just need somebody who can keep things steady and not give up a lead or let a game get out of control during the 20 to 25 minutes they’ll be on the court.

Markelle Fultz has had one of the most confounding and unique starts to a career that we have ever seen. The former Washington Huskies guard was once viewed as a generational, can’t miss prospect, which led to the Philadelphia 76ers selecting him first overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Unfortunately for Fultz and the 76ers, an inexplicable set of circumstances led to the young guard arriving at his first preseason training camp with an altered shot. Nobody has been able to find a true answer as to what happened between draft night and the eve of his rookie season. The only thing that is definitive is that Fultz arrived with a completely different shooting form that ruined his shot.

To this day, Fultz has been unable to find his old form and unlock the promise that he once held. That being said, he has developed into a useful rotational piece who can score at the rim and create for others. He also has upside on the defensive end, where his elite athleticism and wingspan helps him disrupt opposing players and force turnovers.

Given his career to date, Fultz will likely only be looking for $3-5 million per year on his next contract. This is a great price for a once highly touted prospect who still brings value as a slasher, playmaker, and defender, and he could be just what the Timberwolves are looking for off the bench.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) looks up during the first half of Knicks game
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At this point in his career, Kelly Oubre Jr. is who he is, for better or for worse. He’s an exciting offensive player who can score, albeit inefficiently. He can score from deep, he can get to the rim with ease, and he has the physical tools to be a quality defender when engaged. The problem is that Oubre might have played himself out of Minnesota’s price range with the excellent season he put together this past year in Philadelphia.

In some ways, Oubre is a paradox. He can be inconsistent in his play, but he is consistently frustrating. That being said, he also makes the types of plays that win games. He’ll likely only command a deal in the $5 million per year range, which could make him a candidate to pair up alongside Edwards on the Timberwolves.

Dennis Smith Jr.

Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) gestures after making a three point shot in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden
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Dennis Smith Jr. came into the NBA as an athletic, high-flying guard in the style of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. Smith wasn’t known as a particularly skilled player, but someone who could score through you, around you, or over you. He was a guy who could jump out of the gym and he brought an aggressive mentality to the game, preferring to score over players even if there was an easier option available.

He was a highly touted prospect because of his athleticism and aggressiveness, but it quickly became apparent that this would not be enough for him to have a successful NBA career. Once he got to the league and was competing with athletes who were his equal on a daily basis, he needed to develop his skills and find other ways to win.

To his credit, Smith has done just that. In recent seasons, he has emerged as a legitimate threat from beyond the arc, and rebuilt himself as an effective three-and-d player. While that certainly wasn’t what scouts had in mind when they were evaluating Smith leading up to the draft, a 3-and-d guard is a valuable player archetype in the modern NBA.

The choice between Fultz and Smith comes down to preference. Smith brings better shooting to the table, while Fultz has significant size and strength. The former Maverick might have a slight edge in leaping ability, but Fultz is a smoother overall athlete.

Both players should be available for a league-minimum deal, and the Timberwolves can’t go wrong with either of them.