The Minnesota Timberwolves have been in the gutter of the NBA for a couple of seasons now. Aside from one playoff stint in 2018, after the Jimmy Butler trade, the Wolves have not made the postseason in 17 years. Since then, they have had 11 head coaches, a plethora of NBA talent on their rosters, and still, the team has not had an ounce of real success.
The Wolves have some great players on their team. Karl Anthony-Towns is an elite talent, just like D'Angelo Russell. They also have Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2020 NBA draft, who burst onto the scene in his rookie season and provided plenty of viral moments for Minnesota in what was otherwise a disappointing season for the franchise.
Minnesota is entering this season with a roster that most believe is not ready to fight for a postseason spot. The Western Conference is too strong and the Wolves have questions about the real quality on their roster, apart from the three players mentioned above. However, one overlooked player who might shock you this year is Josh Okogie.
Okogie has been in the league for three years now and it has been a rollercoaster.
While he had two years of solid play, his minutes have been slashed and his contributions fell off mightily. It was clear that coach Ryan Saunders clearly gave Okogie his chances, while now head coach Chris Finch does not feel the same way. There is some sense that Okogie, who was selected in the first round of the 2018 NBA draft, is not being utilized in the right way.
Going into this season Okogie has some new, valuable experience. He played for Nigeria in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. While his averages were not impressive and Nigeria lost all three games, it is still a good experience and a way forward for Okogie with the Wolves. Being able to play, even in limited minutes, means a lot to every player even if it is without much contribution. Okogie should be entering this season with a lot of confidence and with a will to prove himself to the Wolves.
Okogie can be a stable two-way threat at the guard position, especially on a Wolves team that desperately needs players to step up. Minnesota has scarce NBA talent and depth for that matter. Aside from Towns, Russell, Edwards, and possibly Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley, this is a depleted roster. Usually, in these kinds of situations, players like Okogie, somewhat of a sleeper, can have their best seasons.
Additionally, Okogie is also in his contract year. After the Wolves decided to keep him for an additional year in December of 2020, it was up to him to prove them right. Unfortunately for the Nigerian guard, he did not have much of an opportunity to do it, but he can change that. As underlined, the Wolves are essentially playing for the development of their young guys this season. This roster, with questionable talent and without much veteran leadership, will be winning up to 25-30 games and perhaps not many more than that. Thus, the expectancy is that young guys will get their opportunities.
Okogie is still one of those young guys and the Wolves need a scorer from the bench, especially from the guard position. Additionally, he is in the last year of his contract, so to get another opportunity, regardless of if it is in Minnesota or somewhere else, Okogie will fight with everything he has to get this chance. It is a shame that last season was wasted, but there is a valid reason why every NBA player is there, where he is – they have talent. Okogie has tons of it, and if he gets to show it, the Wolves might have a player worth keeping around for quite some time.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are going through an array of issues right now. Other than the aforementioned poor roster, they are also having tumblings in the front office and in terms of ownership transitioning. While it would be foolish to say that one good Josh Okogie season would turn it around, it is clear that the entire organization and its fans need a good season, an over performance of sorts, to think that this team can go the distance, sometime down the line. Okogie could be an ignitor, along with Towns, Edwards, and Russell. Now, everything is up to him and if he can present his case when given a chance, he might even end up starting next to Russell.