Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said it would be "ideal" if the Wolves had either Karl-Anthony Towns or Rudy Gobert on the floor at all times.
"That's the plan we have," Finch said. "We look at KAT as a backup 'five' for us."
The offseason acquisition of the 7-1 Gobert, a true center or "five," to pair with the 6-11 Towns will give the team a different look when they are playing together. Towns will be downshifting to playing the "four" on both ends when he and Gobert are on the floor, which could end up being around 20 minutes per game, give or take.
What's becoming clear in listening to the players and coaches early in training camp is the Wolves could be a different team stylistically on defense depending on whether Gobert is on the floor. His ability to play drop coverage and protect the rim at an elite level will likely have the Wolves favoring that kind of scheme when he is on the floor, even as Finch has pledged to play Gobert more on the perimeter at times.
"He's such a great athlete, he moves so well that you can really, really use him in a bunch of ways," Finch said.
But when Gobert is off the floor, the Wolves may favor more of the high-wall and scramble approach they deployed last season when Towns is playing the "backup five." One of the main questions is: Will the Wolves be able to pull off playing multiple coverages when they have different lineup combinations on the floor?
"We have the personnel for it," forward Kyle Anderson said. "That's what good teams are able to do. The Golden States, Milwaukees, teams like that. They're able to execute different coverages throughout the game. We want to be a team like that."
Assistant coach Micah Nori said the Wolves have been working on a lot of drop coverage, and they can't get complacent in that coverage and just expect Gobert to clean everything up at the rim. He also said there should be some muscle memory for the Wolves to switch coverages back to a more aggressive style.
"There are enough guys on the floor that are accustomed to playing that type," Nori said. "... It's easier to get guys to get back to what they were accustomed to, being aggressive."
Towns' and Gobert's presence on the floor will also dictate who plays with them. It appears the Wolves are favoring having D'Angelo Russell stay on the floor with Gobert and Anthony Edwards stay with Towns. The reasoning is twofold: how they like to take their shifts and how they mesh with each other.
Gobert and Russell could form a potent pick-and-roll duo, and both like to play three shifts per half, Nori said. Edwards and Towns prefer longer shifts and only one rest per half.
"The way it lines up is very good for us," Nori said. "And then, what you have to figure out is, 'Who are those guys around?' So if you're playing more pick-and-roll with Rudy and D-Lo out there, it may make more sense to have a shooter, to make sure the floor stays spread.
"When you have Ant and KAT, you may have more guys driving, different things like that."
Edwards said his game meshes well with Towns'.
"KAT's game complements my game so well due to the fact that he's the best popper in the league and he's the best three-point shooting big in the league," Edwards said. "So anytime that I want a ball screen, I would prefer that it be KAT, because he's going to pop, and his man has to guard him, and I got a highway to the rim."
On the other rim, the Wolves will have one of the best road blocks a team could have.