With the news of Justin Patton’s injury, the Wolves’ Summer League team feels as if it has lost much of it’s glow. This season’s team is also void of last season’s leader, Tyus Jones. But after putting in a little bit of YouTube work, I have found some intrigue in the grouping of players on this year’s team. Many of who played for big time college programs — Perry Ellis (Kansas), Marcus Paige (North Carolina), V.J. Beachem (Notre Dame), Deonte Burton (Iowa State), Amile Jefferson (Duke) — and others who profile as G-League scrappers — Raphiael Putney, C.J. Williams, Matt Costello.
My natural thought process (as an admittedly poor college basketball fan) when looking at these prospects is to compare them to NBA players. To make the already difficult process of finding an accurate comparison more difficult, I have limited my data set to former Minnesota Timberwolves. Which is, both a fun and stupid activity.
Here ya go.
#3 V.J. Beachem F 6-8 201 01/15/95 Notre Dame/USA R
Former Timberwolf Comp: Troy Daniels
Beachem is almost exclusively a shooter who will operate as an ancillary piece around the pick and roll, a la Troy Daniels. The dude’s shot is pure. However, he appears to be exceedingly frail and through that earns the description of a shooter who is soft.
#30 Deonte Burton F 6-5 250 01/31/94 Iowa State
Former Timberwolf Comp: Shabazz Muhammad
Burton is anything but soft. The 6’5” bowling ball with a 7-foot wingspan plays in a way that fits the cliche of “shot out of a cannon.” His game will be fun in many of the ways Shabazz Muhammad earned endearment among Wolves fans. He will work his ass off and get buckets. He may even pass. Which, of course, derails my comparison.
Further hurting my comp is the concept that Burton may be a good defender. He is the player who waits for an opponent to get to the rim only to meet them there. Burton also showed he can switch onto the perimeter while in college. As he does here:
These defensive attributes are enticing, but I question his ability to defend the rim and on the perimeter against players that will almost certainly be taller and quicker than they were in college.
#44 Charles Cooke G 6-5 196 07/01/94 Dayton
Former Timberwolf Comp: Alando Tucker
This comparison was tough. Do you even remember former Wisconsin standout, Alando Tucker’s, cup of coffee with the Wolves? I don’t.
Bu the comp works under the concept that Tucker, like Cooke, was the player who just kinda put his head down in college and big brother-ed people to score. Something Cooke does well.
Also like Tucker, Cooke seems a bit undersized which leads to the idea that functioning in the NBA may be a step too far, much as it was for the former Badger.
#25 Matt Costello F 6-9 245 08/05/93 Michigan State
Former Timberwolf Comp: Brian Cardinal
This comp was easy — white dude who checks all the hustle boxes. Costello plays much like “The Janitor,” Brian Cardinal, did. If my memory serves correct, Cardinal had a bit of stretchability that I’m not sure Costello has. That said, Costello is the most likely to get in a fight. So that’s tight.
#34 Perry Ellis F 6-7 218 09/14/93 Kansas
Former Timberwolf Comp: Ryan Gomes
The Ryan Gomes comparison has very little to do with play style overlap with Perry Ellis and more so to do with the feeling that Gomes was just around forever. Much like the sentiment with Ellis at Kansas. I swear he played there for like nine years.
In re-watching a bit of Ellis’ game after having recently watched a chunk of Taj Gibson’s Bulls tape, I see an overlap. A propensity to crab dribble way too many times and a quick trigger from midrange.
#11 Jack Gibbs G 6-0 195 01/29/95 Davidson
Former Timberwolf Comp: Randy Foye
Jack G. Buckets.
The Davidson product will fire at will for the Wolves Summer League squad, ignorant of defenders and the shot clock. But it’s Summer League, who cares? I think he will be one of the more fun players.
Get buckets Jack.
#12 Amile Jefferson F 6-9 224 05/07/93 Duke
Former Timberwolf Comp: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
The Duke product is a lanky defender who works hard and runs the floor. Mbah a Moute has his warts, but is certainly a good defender and willing passer. That works for Jefferson.
#40 Moses Kingsley F 6-10 230 11/16/94 Arkansas
Former Timberwolf Comp: Ronny Turiaf
Moses Kingsley is a rim defender. Wolves haven’t had many of those in recent memory, hence the poor Ronny Turiaf comp. However, much like Ronny, Kingsley will bring all kinds of energy. He also has a bit of Gorgui Dieng to his game around the basket.
6 Marcus Paige G 6-1 175 09/11/93 North Carolina
Former Timberwolf Comp: Luke Ridnour
Exceptional shooter with exceptionally poor athleticism outside of quickness, yeah that’s Luke Ridnour. I think the pairing works as Paige, like Ridnour, was a very good college point guard who can shoot all the daylights out of the ball.
Paige not only missed out on the athleticism blessings from the Basketball Gods but also the height gene. Paige could use a couple more inches so as to be able to play off the ball a bit more at this level. While at UNC, surrounded by Joel Berry and Justin Jackson, Paige often functioned as a spot up shooter while Berry and Jackson took on ball handling duties. It’s an awkward fit to be the smallest player on the court and not the ball handler at the next level. We’ll see how he is used by Wolves Summer League Head Coach, Ryan Saunders.
I think, in the context of the Summer League team, Paige will get his. He fits the stereotype of “gamer” and will likely continue to make it work with what he has. His shooting would be welcome on the Wolves actual roster but his size is, again, the issue.
10 Raphiael Putney F 6-10 185 04/21/90 Massachusetts
Former Timberwolf Comp: Adreian Payne
Raphiael Putney’s high-arching shot is reminiscent of Adreian Payne as is his stretched out 6’10” frame. Historically, Summer League has seen older and more mature players feasting. I’m not sure how many minutes Putney will receive, but he will be a player with real pro experience. If/when he touches the floor I would expect him to play well as a stretchy four man.
31 Levi Randolph G 6-5 205 10/03/92 Alabama
Former Timberwolf Comp: Alexey Shved
Levi Randolph is a “break you down and pull” kind of guy. And I think that’s what Alexey Shved was supposed to be...?
Randolph plays with a certain forward lean to his game that makes it appear as if he is always destined for the rim but he often springs back into a pull-up three. Yet another dice roll on a shooter for the Wolves.
14 C.J. Williams F 6-5 230 02/06/90 North Carolina State
Former Timberwolf Comp: Martell Webster
C.J. Williams is yet another D-League veteran who played college basketball long ago. He was on former Wolf Lorezo Brown’s college team at North Carolina State. The veteran Williams is a player not afraid to get up threes himself while also showing off a good feel for the game as he often peppers the baseline (at least according to YouTube). At twenty-seven years-old, Williams is another veteran worker who will certainly be making the most out of this time so as to get exposure for what is likely the twilight of his career.
Feel free to berate my comparisons under the caveat that I hadn’t ever seen half of these guys play before this morning. I promise to follow up and tell you how I see it in person this week while I am in Vegas with John Meyer. John (@theDailyWolf) and myself (@NikolaPekovic) will be covering all of the Wolves games, starting today at 5:30pm CST. Game is televised on NBATV. Follow along with us.