The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a blazing 2-0 get started in the preseason regardless of the absence of famous person ahead Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s convalescing from an sickness that sidelined him right through the primary week of coaching camp.
While you’ll be able to level to availability components, such because the Miami Heat sitting Jimmy Butler on Tuesday, or LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook at the bench in their Las Vegas best possible on Thursday night time, higher signs in their preseason good fortune are their quite staggering intensity and fantastic proclivity for pushing the tempo in transition.
Head trainer Chris Finch’s staff gained the short damage struggle 30-5 over the Heat in their first preseason time out earlier than turning in 25 transition issues to the Los Angeles Lakers’ 13. Minnesota was once one among 3 groups to attain no less than 30 issues at the damage in more than one video games ultimate season, and is well-positioned to do this as soon as once more in 2022-23.
Now, let’s check out which avid gamers are profiting from their preseason and those that are searching for higher effects in the staff’s ultimate 3 exhibition matchups.
Stock Up: Anthony Edwards
The Atlanta local wasted no time selecting up the place he left off in a historical 2022 NBA postseason, the place he changed into the absolute best scoring 20-year-old in a unmarried playoff run in NBA historical past.
Edwards informed journalists ultimate week that he hung out this offseason specializing in strengthening his knees (and legs as an entire) in purpose of rendering the fatigue and knee problems he skilled ultimate season a factor of the previous. That renewed explosiveness and agility popped with the ball in his palms, and the previous No. 1 select made complex takes to the rim glance easy.
Following the tip of ultimate season, Edwards stated he sought after to toughen his mid-range recreation so he may well be extra of a weapon coming off displays. There’s certainly that the Wolves will glance to get him going downhill in high-leverage moments; Edwards has made positive lovers know he put in the trouble on his middy recreation this offseason.
He mixed the ones two components of his recreation, plus his easy 3-point unlock, to attain 24 issues on 9/15 taking pictures in simply 23 mins in opposition to the Heat, then adopted that up through as soon as once more taking part in 23 mins, and connecting on 5/12 fires for 13 issues in opposition to the Lakers.
Stock Down: Naz Reid
Now that the Wolves make use of each Gobert and Towns, Reid figures to just input the middle rotation if one among his All-NBA teammates are in foul bother. We know what Reid is at this level as a middle; he’s undersized and struggles with larger 5s, has the quickness to get through them at the force, and frequently unearths himself selecting up fast fouls that ship him again to the bench.
Reid put many of those considerations on show in the primary preseason recreation in opposition to the Heat when he began on the 5 in position of Gobert. The officers whistled him for 2 fouls in the primary 3 mins of the sport earlier than Reid picked up his 3rd foul on the 4:22 mark of the primary quarter. Fouls averted him from discovering a rhythm, as he completed with 9 issues, 4 rebounds, 5 fouls and two turnovers throughout 18 mins, in which Reid registered a team-worst -8.
He has labored this offseason to toughen his abilities as a 4 given the context of ways mins will probably be dolled out, so Finch and Co. began Reid on Thursday in position of Towns with the opposite 4 projected opening night time starters on.
It didn’t move properly.
While the fourth-year large guy from LSU made some robust defensive performs, he had a bent to over-help, arise out of his stance, and it resulted in getting beat for buckets, teammates having to foul, or the Wolves lucking out on some overlooked buckets.
Naz no doubt has the facility to protect at a excessive point in stretches, as he has confirmed he can all the way through his first 3 seasons in Minnesota. However, he will have to develop into extra constant each as a 4 and a 5 if he needs to search out common mins in Finch’s rotation.
Stock Up: Bryn Forbes
The 2d of the Wolves’ Denver Nuggets imports has pop out firing and raised some eyebrows in the method. Forbes scored 22 issues on 7/13 taking pictures throughout 31 mins in the staff’s first two preseason contests, in which he’s a mixed +19.
The former Michigan State megastar joined forces with DeMarcus Cousins in the Mile High City ultimate yr to create an impressive offensive punch off the bunch, and is having a look the phase along Rudy Gobert up to now.
Gobert has mentioned he prefers to play in 3 shorter first-half stints quite than two, which means that he figures to play in the market with Forbes a just right quantity when the sharpshooter is at the flooring. Forbes is superb coming off displays and can get downhill coming round dribble hand-offs (DHOs) earlier than raising in the mid-range for a jumper or floater.
While Forbes isn’t more likely to push or overtake Jaylen Nowell for the backup 2-guard spot, he’s the obvious candidate to fill the taking pictures specialist position Malik Beasley performed whilst Beasley was once a Timberwolf — and will probably be paid ~15% of what Minnesota paid Beasley ultimate season.
Stock Down: Austin Rivers
Coming into coaching camp, the Timberwolves anticipated Rivers, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly’s different back-court addition from Denver, to push the incumbent Nowell for that backup 2-guard spot, nevertheless it hasn’t materialized up to now in the preseason.
Rivers struggled to search out the ground of the online in Minnesota’s first exhibition recreation, taking pictures 0/6 in 21 mins, earlier than getting a pair pictures to head down in a five-point efficiency in opposition to the Lakers.
While his offense hasn’t been there, Rivers hasn’t let it affect his protection, which is sweet to peer. The 10-year veteran has spoken all the way through coaching camp about how the staff realizes its attainable, however can’t release it until everybody buys into their position and is rooting for his or her teammates to be successful, irrespective of what that implies for his or her mins.
The former Duke megastar is dedicated to being a good veteran presence at the courtroom and in the locker room, one thing this staff wishes with Patrick Beverley now in Utah. Rivers has additionally profusely praised Finch all the way through camp; that implies one thing coming from a vet on his 7th staff who no longer handiest performed for a number of other head coaches in his first 10 years, but in addition grew up dwelling with one. Although Rivers’ preseason play isn’t his best possible, I’d be stunned to peer Finch make investments an excessive amount of right into a sluggish get started from a man with a years-long monitor document of good fortune as a job participant.
Stock Up: Jaylen Nowell
Nobody rather then D’Angelo Russell has extra using on his efficiency this season than Nowell. And to his credit score, Nowell regarded superb in his first two alternatives to exhibit the strides he made this offseason.
Against the Heat, Nowell began in position of Russell and put in combination a pointy efficiency. The former Pac-12 Player of the Year scored 14 issues on an effective 6/11 taking pictures night time (4/6 2-point, 2/5 3-point) over 23 mins, in which he registered a forged +11. He adopted that up on Thursday with a 13-point time out throughout quarter-hour in a victorious rout.
Wolves lovers are well-accustomed to Nowell’s three-level scoring prowess, however as our Aidan Berg wrote about the day gone by, the microwave scorer must get to the loose throw line extra if he needs to maximise his scoring attainable. Nowell did so in opposition to the Lakers, attending to the road 5 instances.
Nowell —who has handiest recorded one help in the preseason — will wish to upload extra playmaking to his recreation this season, particularly on nights when he isn’t scoring at fee he’s able to. However, I wouldn’t say he has overlooked many playmaking reads up to now. As you’ll be able to see in the clips above, Nowell’s self assurance shines thru when he receives a ball display or can get downhill off a DHO. While he no doubt possesses a score-first mentality, Nowell is a keen passer and as defenses development to remove his scoring in the mid-range I’d be expecting him to develop as a passer.
Next up for the Wolves is a date with the Los Angeles Clippers at the West Coast, which requires a 9:30 PM CT tip. Fans can watch the sport on Bally Sports North — new play-by-play voice Michael Grady’s debut along longtime analyst Jim Petersen.