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While One Set Of Wolves Struggle, Another Set Is Shining

The Wolves of Minneapolis may be disappointing, but the Wolves of Des Moines continue to flourish.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves are on an all too familiar five game losing streak. We’re all starting to feel a little bad and it is definitely understandable. To cheer everyone up, we’re writing 5000 words about Canyon Barry’s beautiful free throws let’s talk about the undefeated (Iowa) Wolves team!

In the span of like two weeks, Iowa has had their G-League Draft, completed their training camp/preseason, and have already played two regular season games. Both games were against the Miami Heat’s heralded Sioux Falls Skyforce team.

Including their preseason game against the G-League Ignite team, each Timberwolves player that has visited Des Moines has taken a turn dominating the game and showing something special to look forward to.

To start, Leandro Bolmaro was the one to take it to the Ignite. In that game Bolmaro had 20 points on 8-16 shooting, 4-9 from three. He also racked up nine rebounds. The good things that he showed included promise in his jump shot developing further (which was a huge concern during the draft), his passing being amazing enough to make us all not miss Ricky Rubio as much (emphasis on “as much”), and that he is already too good to be in the G-League.

The bad? He’s still relatively raw and while not belonging in the G-League he isn’t quite NBA ready yet either. As he adjusts to an NBA game in practices, works on his shot, and adjusts to playing against NBA level athletes in Timberwolves practices, he’ll eventually show that he’s ready to hop in the rotation. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him practice with Minnesota, get sent to Iowa, rinse, and repeat for most of the season just to find himself in the Timberwolves rotation to end the season.

Let’s break down a few specific things that fans of both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Iowa Wolves can look forward to with this G-League squad...

Item #1: Consistent Growth

Something to look forward to: Bolmaro has played better than the game prior in every game of the very early season.

In the first game of Iowa’s regular season Minnesota sent down Nathan Knight. He dominated in a big way going a game high 31 points and 13 rebounds. The most significant thing to glean from this game was that he also does not belong in the G-League. They are not a one for one comparison, but Nathan Knight could come in and be the power forward version of rookie Naz Reid right now in the NBA. He has an intriguing combination of speed and power while being a dynamic roll man and threat from three. The bad part of this was that Minnesota took him away for the second game and left Iowa with a hole at center.

Item #2: McLaughlin/Reid, Version 2.0

Something to look forward to: You guys know how Jordan McLaughlin and Naz Reid developed crazy pick and roll chemistry in the G-League many moons ago? If Minnesota lets them, Leandro Bolmaro and Nathan Knight could absolutely be the second coming of that.

In the third game the Iowa game was going on at the same time as the Timberwolves vs Grizzlies game. However, instead of following in Minnesota’s footsteps, Iowa followed in the footsteps of Memphis. They were down late, came back, got it into a pair of overtime periods before finally winning. This time though, it was the McKinley Wright show.

Wright erupted with a 35 point, five rebound, and five assist game. After a poor preseason game Wright had a good game in game one against the Skyforce and a great game in game two. His shots are falling, he is playing solid defense, and he looks like a significant upgrade over any guard options Iowa had last year. The bad side of Wright’s start is that he doesn’t stick out in the same way that Bolmaro and Knight do. He’s shown promise but finding a route for him to break into Minnesota’s rotation is tough to envision.

Item #3: The Wright Decision

Something to look forward to: Eventually Minnesota is going to keep Bolmaro up with the active roster and in turn, Iowa will hand Wright the keys.

Two other noteworthy players to watch are Brian Bowen II and Isaiah Briscoe. Bowen played on the same level as Bolmaro in the G-League Ignite game before hitting a massive shooting slump. He is still doing other things to leave his mark on the game (including grabbing every rebound) and if I had to bet on one Wolf to sign an NBA deal later in the season, I would bet on him. Briscoe, on the other hand, should be in the running for the made up G-League sixth man of the year award. The second year Wolf has provided a steady hand off the bench, played great defense, and given the team an offensive boost when they’ve needed it.

Looking ahead the Wolves have the rest of the week off and then play the Grand Rapid Gold in Iowa on November 15th and 17th before a ten day hiatus.