Minnesota Timberwolves

Tom Thibodeau still hasn’t learned to stop overplaying players

The Minnesota Timberwolves are going to have some big decisions to make this summer.

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t changed his stripes. He’s been known to keep his players on the floor for an excessive amount of minutes in the past, and Friday night was no different.

With Jeff Teague out with an injury, Thibodeau leaned heavily on Derrick Rose to play 39 minutes before the point guard sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter. He couldn’t contribute during overtime in the Wolves’ 123-120 loss as a result.

You would think that at least with a player like Rose, who Thibodeau coached with the Chicago Bulls during the PG’s horrific ACL tear in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, the coach would have a little more caution.

Rose has had an eventful week. He received MVP chants during Minnesota’s recent visit to Chicago and scored 24 points in that victory.

The point guard is having a stellar individual season by averaging 18.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, especially when you consider how the last couple years have gone for him. But playing him 39 minutes in a game versus the Atlanta Hawks is purely absurd. The Wolves aren’t a playoff team, and so why drive one of your assets into the ground in December?

The record is clear. Jimmy Butler was second in the league in time played (36.7 minutes per game) last season despite dealing with a variety of maladies.

Thibodeau could at least follow his own advice.

“I think every team is different,” he said last January. “If you have younger players, you’re going to play them a little bit more. If you have guys in their mid-30s, you’re probably going to pull back on it.”

Rose may only be 30, but he has the knees of a 40-year-old after all of the intense surgeries he’s had on that area of his body. Players like him and Joakim Noah have seen their careers go sideways after campaigns with Thibodeau.

Rose and Teague are doubtful for Sunday’s game, and so it will be interesting to see which point guard the coach overplays now.

The Wolves will have to make some tough decisions this summer. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins aren’t delivering on their potential as No. 1 overall picks, and Thibodeau clearly hasn’t adapted his coaching style. The Wolves must move on from at least one of those players or the head coach if the season keeps going in this direction, and after this point, they shouldn’t expect Thibodeau to adjust.

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