We’re three games into the 2021-22 Minnesota Timberwolves season and folks, THEY’RE 2-1! It’s probably the least satisfying 2-1 in NBA history, but they’re still 2-1. With that said, there have been a lot of up and down performances from players on the roster so far, whether it’s the all star center or the 11th guy off the bench. Let’s talk about who’s doing well and who’s not so far.
This latest article will be a recurring piece I do every week that takes “stock” of various Timberwolves players — basically looking at who is trending up and who is (unfortunately) trending in the wrong direction. Let’s get into edition number one...
Stock Up #1: Patrick Beverley
Season stats: 21.0 MPG, 9.0 PTS, 4.0 AST, 2.5 REB, 69.9 TS%, 50 3P%, 146 oRTG, 100 dRTG
We all pretty much knew what to expect from Pat Bev this season — just a complete menace on the court that helps the Wolves in whatever way is necessary. That has been true so far this year as Beverley has been electric on defense, been one of the best shooters on the team, and brought energy off the bench.
Patrick Beverley when asked about Anthony Edwards bringing the Wolves back into the game scoring 21 points in the 3rd quarter:— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) October 26, 2021
“We lost. None of that matters.”
Stats aside, the main reason Beverley makes the list of players rising this week is because of stuff like this. Yes, we all knew he was going to lead, but his impact and the way he tells it like it is feels so impactful, especially for a team that despite having two max players, is still one of the youngest rosters in the league. He isn’t afraid to rip anyone after a poor performance, including 20-year old Anthony Edwards. Beverley told Edwards “welcome to the game” when he started scoring in the third quarter. He leads with his words and backs it up with his play on the court.
Stock Up #2: Anthony Edwards
Season stats: 36.2 MPG, 25.2 PTS, 3.7 AST, 8.0 REB, 54.7 TS%, 34.8 3P%, 108 oRTG, 101 dRTG
Edwards isn't making this list because of what he’s done on the court, but rather what he recently said after the loss to the Pelicans. Anthony Edwards’ stock is rising because of the leader he’s becoming. His play alone would probably keep him neutral so far, but player stocks can rise for any reason. For Edwards, it’s about his words off the court.
Anthony Edwards is 20 years old and already looks like the leader this team needs. He’s willing to hold KAT and DLo accountable.— Cooper (@CoopCarlson) October 26, 2021
“Who’s leading the charge?”
“Everybody except me, KAT, and DLo… we take all the shots, so we gotta be willing to lead.” pic.twitter.com/Y0JEZIRLdz
For the full interview you can click right here but it was basically Edwards spending eight minutes talking about how he has to become a leader. How he has to be the one to hold Towns and Russell accountable. How he has to talk more and get others involved.
This was refreshing to hear from someone other than Karl-Anthony Towns or Ricky Rubio. To be honest, their message has gotten stale over the years. All talk with no winning. Anthony Edwards has a different aura around him that, for now, has me believing what he says.
Stock Up #3: Jordan McLaughlin
Season stats: 14.0 MPG, 3.0 PTS, 2.7 AST, 1.7 REB, 51.4 TS%, 0.00 3P%, 116 oRTG, 97 dRTG
Shoutout to JMac! He’s looked very good as the 11th man in the rotation so far and might be the main reason the Wolves won the first game against the Pelicans. If you remember the third and fourth quarter of game two this season, the Wolves were falling apart. D’Angelo Russell was borderline unplayable and the Wolves needed a spark.
Enter Jordan McLaughlin. He came in and was the spark that the Wolves desperately needed.
Chris Finch on Jordan McLaughlin's impact in the fourth quarter.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) October 24, 2021
"All credit to J-Mac. He stayed ready the whole game."
Finch said he was a difference maker. It showed.
The role for McLaughlin this season is still relatively unknown. There will be some nights he doesn’t play at all and other nights he plays 15+ minutes. Despite that, he was great in game two and led the team to a win. Game three was rough, but it was rough for just about everyone.
Let’s get to three players who have seen their stocks fall through three games.
Stock Down #1: D’Angelo Russell
Season stats: 27.7 MPG, 14.3 PTS, 4.0 AST, 4.0 REB, 44.4 TS%, 30.4 3P%, 83 oRTG, 101 dRTG
The first player to see his stock drop this week shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone — while it’s still a relatively small sample size, Russell has been extremely disappointing so far this season as he has been unable to find any offensive rhythm. Whether it’s playmaking, shooting, or leading the offense it just hasn’t gone well for Russell up to this point.
Game two was especially bad as he had seven turnovers and couldn’t hit a shot until the final minutes.
Looking for D’Angelo Russell to have a bounce back performance tonight. He had 7 turnovers a couple nights ago. The wolves need him to lead this offense pic.twitter.com/q1fas5eDUy— Cooper (@CoopCarlson) October 26, 2021
Russell will surely pick it up in the coming games because he’s simply not this bad but his struggles are a cause for concern. If this continues as the Wolves take on the Bucks, Nuggets, and Magic before next weeks edition then he’ll only continue going down.
Stock Down #2: Jaden McDaniels
Season stats: Season stats: 28.3 MPG, 3.7 PTS, 0.3 AST, 4.0 REB, 36.7 TS%, 14.3 3P%, 81 oRTG, 98 dRTG
The Wolves weren’t expecting an offensive explosion from McDaniels this season, they were just hoping for improvement upon a solid rookie campaign. Defensively, he’s been pretty much the same guy with his ability to guard anyone and a weakness grabbing rebounds. When it comes to shooting, that’s where he’s struggled the most thus far.
Using true shooting percentage, McDaniels ranks behind only Josh Okogie on the team and using three point percentage he ranks 3rd to last. He isn’t expected to be an elite scorer by any means but with his inefficiency hitting open shots it makes it harder for Edwards, Towns, or Russell to pass the ball to him.
Expectations for McDaniels may have been set too high before the season. How could they not have been with his own head coach calling him Scottie Pippen in the offseason. McDaniels is still just a 21-year old player in his first NBA season with real expectations. Give it time, but so far it’s been a struggle.
Stock Down #3: Malik Beasley
Season stats: Season stats: 22.7 MPG, 6.7 PTS, 2.0 AST, 2.0 REB, 43.9 TS%, 16.7 3P%, 101 oRTG, 102 dRTG
There’s not a ton to go in depth on here with Beasley — when he’s not hitting jump shots he’s largely ineffective. So far, that’s been the story of his season. He’s meant to be the electric scorer off the bench but so far he’s been quite the opposite.
Beasley isn’t getting as many opportunities to shoot the ball this season, but that was expected with him playing with everyone healthy. His three point attempts per game have dropped from 8.7 per game last season to just 4.0 this year. The Wolves need him to find him scoring touch immediately because his role off the bench is extremely important.
BUT once his shot starts to fall, and it will, watch out because his defense is looking better than ever. The bar for that to happen was on the floor but he’s looking good on that end so credit where it’s due.
I've been impressed with Malik Beasley's off ball defensive effort so far. He's been committed to playing quality low-man DEF by tagging the roller, recovering, and making the proper rotations to cover for teammates. pic.twitter.com/Z966wKMgFy— Tyler Metcalf (@tmetcalf11) October 26, 2021
Stock Down #4: Naz Reid
Season stats: Season stats: 15.3 MPG, 6.3 PTS, 0.3 AST, 3.3 REB, 42.0 TS%, 22.2 3P%, 84 oRTG, 89 dRTG
As much as it hurts me to do this, Naz Reid has to go on this list. Through three games he’s been undeniably bad and the drop-off from Towns to Reid has been a disaster. His offensive rating is 78.8 when Towns isn’t on the floor so far. His +/- sits at -31 in a season where the Wolves are 2-1. Not good.
Rebounding is an issue for this Wolves team as a whole and Reid hasn’t done much to help in that are. The two most recent games were both against Valanciunas and the Pelicans that saw Reid bring in just two total rebounds in over 27 minutes. Reid needs to be better in every aspect of the game as nothing is going his way yet this season.
Let’s move onto the final category, which looks at players whose stock has neither gone up or down over the last week. With respect to the stock market, we’ll consider these players “holds.”
Hold Please: Karl-Anthony Towns
Season stats: Season stats: 15.3 MPG, 6.3 PTS, 0.3 AST, 3.3 REB, 42.0 TS%, 22.2 3P%, 84 oRTG, 89 dRTG
Maybe a hot take here given the fact that Towns is averaging 29.0 points and 9.3 rebounds but he isn’t doing anything to lift the team up more than he has in the past. Game three was a frustrating one for Towns and myself watching because it took us back to years of the past.
Within five minutes of the game, Towns has let the referees get in his head and has two fouls. Sure, there were some bad calls, but Towns cannot let these calls affect him like they did in this loss. This is especially true with how bad the team performs when Towns is off the floor. The offense is barely functional with him out there so when he has to be taken out early things begin to fall apart.
Towns will always put up the huge numbers but it’s too common that he focuses more on the refs than the game itself. He’ll fall over and have his arms flailing, complaining a call before he even hits the ground. Patrick Beverley seemed to already be sick of it as well.
Again, Towns is a generational talent and has shown that this season. It’s just time he stops complaining about the refs no matter how bad they are. Go back to this mindset.
KAT said a whole bunch postgame.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) February 25, 2021
Spark notes version: I'm done arguing with refs because I realized that was stupid and pointless.
Those are the main players I want to touch on today, but every week I want to put all 16 players into a category.
- UP (3): Beverley, Edwards, McLaughlin
- DOWN (6): Russell, McDaniels, Beasley, Reid, Layman, Nowell
- HOLD (7): Towns, Okogie, Prince, Vanderbilt, Bolmaro, Knight, Wright IV