By: Tim Parochka
Power forward is a difficult position to examine because different situations will dictate who is in that slot. Is Gorgui Dieng or Karl-Anthony Towns a power forward? Is Jordan Hill a power forward? What's next for Nemanja Bjelica and Adreian Payne?
Honestly, it doesn't matter if Karl-Anthony Towns or Gorgui Dieng officially "start" at the power forward position. They both will start so, frankly, I'm not focused on which one will be the power forward.
Karl-Anthony Towns is on the verge of greatness and it feels like we're watching a career take shape similar to the career that has just ended. Towns displayed a repertoire of inside post pivots, outside jabs, ball-handling, nifty passing and a jump shot extended to three point range. The kid has the entire package -- possibly a package good enough to end the longest drought without a spot in the playoffs.
Dieng boasts some of the same skills Towns does, but they're not as advanced. The former Louisville Cardinal has shown the ability to shoot the ball and over the past few seasons including a funky one-footed falling away jump-shot off the glass. Gorgui can score inside and stretch the defense just beyond the free-throw line.
It appeared that Towns & Dieng generated a synergy and chemistry together last season. They played well off each other and it makes sense for them to start together because both of them can shoot which opens the lanes for not just each other, but the other three players on the floor as well.
The Final Days
The most known power forward in franchise history is headed to retirement. I'm not going to spend to much time on it because I wrote an article in August that summoned my thoughts on Kevin Garnett.
Garnett's presence will be missed in the locker-room and it will be missed on the court, too. KG played 43 games in his second stint with the Wolves so it's difficult to explain how his presence will be missed on the court, but even at KG's age, he was still, remarkably, one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in the NBA.
Hopefully Towns & Dieng can take what Garnett taught them and put it into use on the court. Garnett's leadership will be missed but in Towns, there's no one better he could pass the torch to.
Let's get Creative
The power forward spot allows for creativity and maneuverability.
Two years ago, the Golden State Warriors initiated a "death lineup", which put their power forward, Draymond Green, at the center position and their small forward, Andre Iquodala, at the power forward spot.
This is where it gets interesting because the Minnesota Timberwolves roster has the ability to generate some sort of small-ball attack. A focus this off-season from Andrew Wiggins was getting bigger and stronger which means he could slide down to the power forward spot if he's comfortable with it.
The power forward is the trickiest spot in a small-ball lineup. Typically, power forwards can guard centers, point guards and shooting guards are interchangeable as well as shooting guards and small forwards. But you need a small-forward who's able and willing to guard the opposing power forward.
Can Andrew Wiggins become that guy? Or maybe it could be Shabazz Muhammad?
A lineup featuring Ricky Rubio or Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Shabazz, Wiggins & Towns definitely has some fire to it and it's sure to give opposing team some fits as Minnesota's version of the "death lineup."
Off The Bench
Another interesting tidbit in the power forward conundrum is the guys up next. Cole Aldrich is sure to be the backup center, so who would be the best fit next to him?
Jordan Hill was a nice off-season addition because he is one of those guys that will work for every loose ball and fight for every rebound, but is he someone that should receive consistent minutes?
In my mind, Hill is a player who should receive sporadic minutes. Meaning, if the Wolves are struggling to rebound or just lack hustle, substitute Jordan Hill because those are two things he's sure to bring.
Nemanja Bjelica makes a lot of sense next to Aldrich because he can stretch the floor. Nemanja had a great start to last season and a solid finish. However, he was awful during the middle of the year which is worrisome because Nemanja is on the court to shoot and if he isn't shooting well, he can't be on the floor.
Lastly, Adreian Payne. Nobody really knows what his future entails but most believe it's not with the Wolves. It's tough because Payne has obvious talent and athletic ability, but the smarts are just not there. Payne may get cut in training camp which opens a spot for one of Thibodeau's former players who signed small contracts in the off-season.
The power forwards off the bench have me concerned and I will be interested in seeing if Thibodeau creates a small-ball "death lineup" of his own because he certainly has the tools.
The next thing to watch for is who gets the power forward minutes off the bench because Hill and Bjelica are complete opposite players. Will Thibodeau go with a floor spacing option or will he go with a hard-nosed tougher option in Hill?
Whatever this season brings, it shall be interesting at the Power Forward position.