Wolves will start Garnett in crowded frontcourt, still believe in Bennett's talent

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Like he was 20 seasons ago at age 19, Kevin Garnett is the best power forward on the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to head coach and president Flip Saunders.

Saunders said as much to Grantland's Zach Lowe this week as the two discussed the Wolves' crowded frontcourt rotation:

And here’s the thing: KG can still play.
...
He’s gonna start. That’s who he is. KG is a starter. He’s the best power forward on our team, actually. No one rebounds better. He’s the best help defender. No one communicates better. He knows the offense, and he can pass it.

It was speculated when Garnett re-signed on a two-year, $16-million deal that he would start, at least until one of the team's younger players proves himself worthy of the role. Garnett's vocal defensive presence could help with the learning curve for No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, who is hoping to lean on Garnett as a mentor this season.

That's not to say Towns will start, as Saunders was coy about his starting pivot, and his frontcourt rotation in general. Nikola Pekovic isn't fully healed from an Achilles injury, which would seem to give Towns an edge, but the Wolves "have another guy who isn't bad in Gorgui Dieng."

On top of the center logjam, the Wolves would like to get Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad minutes at the four, the team signed Nemanja Bjelica and traded for Damjan Rudez as combo-forwards, and prospects Adreian Payne and Anthony Bennett are still around.

Bennett is the most interesting name, as the Wolves have until Oct. 31 to decide whether or not to pick up their $7.3-million 2016-17 option on Bennett's rookie scale deal. That seems exceptionally unlikely given how much the former No. 1 pick has struggled through two years, but Saunders remains a believer in the Canadian's talent.

"We're going to evaluate him over the summer," Saunders said. "He played a good Pan American Games. There is no question about his talent. It's about getting in shape. He's in shape now."

Bennett did perform well at the Pan Am Games, and theScore saw him live at the OVO Bounce Pro-Am tournament in Toronto on Tuesday. Bennett's shot was terribly off, but he looks in the best physical shape of his career and seems to have hit his stated goal of dropping 15 pounds.

Bennett 2013-14 2014-15
Games 52 57
MPG 12.8 15.7
Pts/36 11.8 12.0
TS% 42.5% 45.8%
PER 6.9 11.4
Rbs/36 8.4 8.7
Reb% 13.1% 13.8%
Ast/36 0.9 1.9
Ast% 4.0% 8.7%

He showed incremental improvement as a sophomore but still has a ways to go, and he'd have to perform incredibly well to convince the Wolves to exercise such an expensive option.

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Wolves will start Garnett in crowded frontcourt, still believe in Bennett's talent
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