For the better part of two years we’ve been hearing about the talent in this young core of Minnesota Timberwolves players.
It appears some others are starting to take notice. Sports Illustrated is counting down the 100 greatest NBA players for 2016-17 this week. So far, it has released the first half of the candidates, and it includes a pair of Timberwolves.
No. 71 – Ricky Rubio
Rubio has climbed 17 spots from his No. 87 ranking on last year’s list, but SI’s Rob Mahoney says he’s a tough one to rank.
“Rubio is a first-class player in two crucial regards (playmaking, perimeter defense) and sorely lacking in another (scoring). Where that leaves his overall game is a matter of disagreement. Rubio characterizes such an extreme in both regards that his contributions can only be fully understood within an actual team context.”
No. 67 – Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins was a bigger jumper in this year’s top 100 than Rubio. He was No. 91 last year and climbed all the way up to No. 67. He has shown an ability to score – he’s one of five NBA players 21 or younger that averaged more than 20 points a game last year.
Still though, SI notes there are some big areas for him to improve.
“The next steps are straightforward: cut down on the long twos, improve as a catch-and-shoot option from outside, take a step forward as a distributor in pick-and-roll scenarios and gobble up every piece of defensive advice new coach Tom Thibodeau has to offer.”
While there was no mention of Karl-Anthony Towns or any other Timberwolves – yet. Half of the list is still to come, so stay tuned.