There will be a ton of talent on the floor when the San Antonio Spurs take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in each team’s regular season opener on Wednesday night.
The San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves have dominated NBA headlines all offseason long, and the drama continues leading up to Wednesday night’s matchup.
The Spurs had to deal with the Kawhi Leonard situation for over a year before sending him to Toronto in exchange for another All-NBA wing in DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan will be facing off against an All-Star who’s in the midst of his own trade drama in Jimmy Butler, who will apparently be wearing a Wolves uniform on Wednesday despite his fervent trade demands.
The combination of new faces in new places and Butler playing with teammates that he’s openly criticized makes this must-watch television.
In addition to the drama, there are also some exciting basketball matchups to break down when these two teams meet.
Here are the top three matchups to keep an eye on in the regular season opener:
Next: DeMar DeRozan versus Jimmy Butler
DeMar DeRozan versus Jimmy Butler
The DeRozan versus Butler matchup has major narrative implications, but it should also be interesting to see who puts up better numbers when they inevitably face off on Monday night.
DeRozan struggled in two games against Minnesota last season with a true shooting percentage of 53% and a negative 2.3 plus-minus while the Raptors went 1-1 against the Wolves.
While his shot wasn’t falling, DeRozan did average 6.5 assists over those two games and he managed to score over 20 points in each contest.
Butler will likely be assigned to DeRozan when the Spurs are on offense, but I doubt that Gregg Popovich will ask DeMar to defend Jimmy on the other end of the floor.
One advantage for DeRozan is that he has a full training camp and preseason of work under his belt while Butler just showed up in Minnesota last week and was held out of the Wolves’ final preseason game to “work on his conditioning.”
DeMar could wear Butler out with his superior conditioning and continue to be a great distributor as he will run the offense in the absence of Dejounte Murray.
Next: LaMarcus Aldridge versus Karl-Anthony Towns
LaMarcus Aldridge versus Karl-Anthony Towns
While DeRozan and Butler may only matchup on one end of the floor, LaMarcus Aldridge and Karl-Anthony Towns could see a lot of each other on Monday night.
Aldridge will likely start at power forward while Towns starts at center, but each player will get plenty of minutes at the five in this game and they will likely be forced to guard each other at different points in this game.
Aldridge was dominant against the Wolves last season scoring 26.3 points with 10 rebounds per game in three matchups against Minnesota. He’ll see a lot of Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng, but Towns will get the honor of trying to defend Aldridge at times on Wednesday.
Towns played well in three matchups against the Spurs last season with 22.3 points and 12.7 rebounds per game and an excellent true shooting percentage of 61.9%.
San Antonio upgraded their post defense with the addition of Jakob Poeltl, and he could be spending more time covering Towns than Aldridge will in this matchup.
We’ll see if Aldridge and Towns can continue to put up outstanding numbers against each other this season.
Next: Andrew Wiggins versus Spurs wings
Andrew Wiggins versus the Spurs’ wings
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The third piece of Minnesota’s big three played well against San Antonio last season scoring nearly 20 points per game with a true shooting percentage of 60% even though the Wolves went 1-2 against the Spurs a year ago.
With the loss of Danny Green in the Kawhi Leonard trade and injuries to Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, and Derrick White, the Spurs don’t have a ton of strong wing defenders on their roster. That situation could be made even worse if Rudy Gay is unable to play in the regular season opener as he deals with a heel injury.
San Antonio’s best wing defender on the floor will be assigned to Jimmy Butler while DeMar DeRozan, who is not known as a strong defender, might see a lot of Andrew Wiggins.
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The Spurs could struggle against teams with multiple talented wings this season, and that’s exactly what they’ll see when Minnesota travels to the AT&T Center on Wednesday.