Coming off a successful pre-season run, the Minnesota Timberwolves have decided to make another change in its roster ahead of the upcoming 2022-23 NBA season. They waived three of its then 20-man roster, forward CJ Elleby and guards PJ Dozier and AJ Lawson.
The news was officially confirmed on the T-Wolves’ Twitter page. However, the release of the three, especially Dozier and Lawson, came off unexpectedly, at least for the Wolves fans.
NEWS: The @Timberwolves today announced the team has waived guard PJ Dozier, forward CJ Elleby and guard A.J. Lawson.
The roster stands at 17 players.
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) October 15, 2022
Why Are They Trimming The Roster?
The addition of 6’10” center Luka Garza already had spectators assume that either Eric Paschall or Lawson will depart from the Minneapolis-based squad, although the majority thought the latter will stay as he statistically had better outputs than the former.
This move by the team was done after their lone pre-season loss against the Nets on October 15. It also signaled more changes to the team’s roster, which were made a few days later.
Now down to 17, did the Timberwolves make the right decision of letting go of the three, or otherwise? Moreover, will this have an effect on the team’s performance this upcoming season and on their chances of taking home the NBA 2022-23 title?
An Analysis Of The Departees
After a short stint with the Wolves, Dozier, Elleby, and Lawson had quite a few moments with the pre-season favorites.
Acquired in late July this year, Lawson’s talents were first noticed by the T-Wolves in the NBA Summer League where he played for the Dallas Mavericks.
The 6’6″ Canadian baller posted an average of 15.6 points along with 6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists, highlighted by a 51.9 shooting efficiency from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc in his five games with the Mavs.
The Wolves were not blind to overlook the former South Carolina Gamecocks standout’s impressive performance, signing Lawson to a two-way contract. Lawson garnered a total of 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 6 assists in his three showings for the Wolves in the pre-season.
To cut things short, this play alone is why you should get excited about AJ Lawson as a Timberwolves 2 way pic.twitter.com/3PVnWZ9bdz
— 🌸 (@DayDreamThis) July 20, 2022
On the other hand, Elleby is a 6’6″ guard acquired from the Portland Trailblazers. He was the 46th pick in the second round of the 2020 NBA draft selected by the Blazers, playing for the team for two seasons.
In his rookie year with the Blazers, the former Washington State star posted an average of 3.5 points, 2.5 assists, one rebound, a hundred percent free-throw shooting efficiency, and 20 percent shooting success rate on the floor, all gained off-the-bench.
Elleby had his career-high performance in the Blazers’ 119-115 triumph over the Detroit Pistons the following season, tallying 16 points off a 71.4 percent shooting efficiency from the floor, 66.6 success rate from beyond the arc, and 57.1 on the free throw line.
In the same game, he also chipped in eight rebounds, two assists, three steals, and a block for the Pistons. He started in 28 of the team’s last 30 games in the 2021-22 season, allowing Elleby to gain more minutes on the floor.
The 6-foot-6-inch guard garnered an average of 5.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in his second and final year with the Blazers. He was then officially signed by the Wolves in August, together with Garza. He appeared twice in the team’s pre-season run, tallying 2 points, 5 rebounds, and an assist in a 15-minute performance.
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) September 6, 2022
Of all the three departees, Dozier’s disposal, apart from Lawson’s, was what left most spectators in shock.
Although he missed all five exhibition games of the T-Wolves, he actually had an impressive run in his three seasons with the Nuggets, generating 7.5 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in his three-year stint with the team.
He has also proven himself to be an efficient contributor on the floor, tallying an impressive 50% shooting efficiency in his 2017-18 stint with the Oklahoma Thunders.
Even if the 6-foot-6 guard was limited to 5.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists last season for the Nuggets due to an ACL injury, he was still signed by the Wolves in September with the hopes of gaining his strength back and contributing to the team’s offensive and defensive pattern.
Off of the Wolves’ den, Dozier is bound to look for his fifth team in six seasons.
Solid get on PJ Dozier for #Timberwolves on Exhibit 10 contract. Another reminder: There are more NBA players than standard deals available. I recall Jokic after Den. lost in playoffs citing how much PJ was missed. Had left ACL reconstruction early Dec. pic.twitter.com/vogOYadabD
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) September 17, 2022
Will The Wolves Regret This Move?
Now the million-dollar question here is whether the Wolves will regret Elleby, Dozier, and Lawson’s disposal. Statistically speaking, the departees’ numbers aren’t really at par with the other players on the roster. Hence, the Wolves might not regret this decision at all.
Elleby’s lacking in the shooting department could have been a reason for his eviction from the team’s lineup. The newly-acquired Forbes and Nowell, joined by stars Towns and Gobert, are set to lead the Wolves’ offense this season.
Pre-season statistics also prove how the team’s offense immensely improved compared to their outputs the previous seasons, which makes Elleby’s departure not much of a big deal for the Wolves.
On the other hand, Lawson also only appeared thrice for the Wolves in the pre-season. Although his minimal outputs are understandable due to limited minutes on the floor, the Wolves still have Russell, Anderson, among others, to fill in the space left by Lawson.
Dozier not suiting up for the Wolves in the exhibition games also means the team has nothing to worry about with his departure. Spectators also believe that the Nuggets should take him back, given his familiarity with the team’s system as well as proof of what he can actually bring to the table.
He can also have more playing opportunities with the Nuggets than with an already-stacked Wolves roster.
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 19, 2022
A Shot In The Finals?
The Timberwolves have never won a championship since joining the league in 1989. With such an impressive pre-season run and an all-star lineup, the team can definitely surpass their usual 40-win output and have a shot in the finals stage.
An already efficient shooting squad, the team has to be consistent defensively and let it complement their offense in order to finally bring the title to Minneapolis.
With Gobert and Garza’s additions, along with Forbes and others, the Wolves will definitely give teams a run for their money this season.
The Wolves are the pre-season favorites for a reason. Still a star-studded roster even after losing three great players, the team has a promising season ahead.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will open their season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 19 at the Target Center.
sleep tight, Wolves fans.
tomorrow, the journey begins. 🐺 pic.twitter.com/Tqfd1u7fpT
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 19, 2022