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Next Wolf Up: The Timberwolves Have Relied Heavily On Their G-League Affiliate This Season

Due to a variety of injuries and illnesses, Minnesota has been forced to turn to a handful of players who have gotten great reps down in Iowa.

Iowa Wolves v Motor City Cruise Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Just like the Minnesota Timberwolves have shown so far this season, the Iowa Wolves (their G-League affiliate) has looked nothing like their team last year. The talent on the floor has risen in a significant way and part of that is due to the Timberwolves. The team has sent down their two-way players McKinley Wright and Nathan Knight (albeit only one game for Knight) as well as standout rookie Leandro Bolmaro.

All three Timberwolves players have stood out on the G-League floor. Nathan Knight in particular dominated for a game in the form of a 31-point showing before heading back to the NBA team where he has stayed. Since the Patrick Beverley injury, the Iowa Wolves have also lost fan favorite Leandro Bolmaro to the big league club. This has left Minnesota’s own McKinley Wright to lead the charge down in Iowa.

Since we last checked in on the team, they’ve went 2-2 (4-2 on the season) splitting a pair of games between both the Grand Rapids Gold and the Motor City Cruise. One of the biggest takeaways from the Gold matchup was Leandro Bolmaro’s struggles for 1.5 games before leaving. Bolmaro had a brutal first half of the first game going for 0 points on 0-6 shooting before ultimately ending up with 22 points on 8-17 shooting. He followed that up with a two point, 1-16 showing in their rematch. McKinley Wright, on the other hand, dominated going for 56 points on 66.67% shooting between the two games.

In the Cruise matchups, the Wolves lost Bolmaro to the Timberwolves as well as Brian Bowen II to the USA men’s world cup qualifying team (how cool is that by the way?) This forced Iowa to go super small with a lineup of three guards featuring Canyon Barry, Brandon Sampson, McKinley Wright, Matt Lewis, and Chris Silva.

(As a quick aside, as Bowen left the team, Barry was coming back from winning the inaugural 3x3 FIBA AmeriCup alongside Iowa Wolf alum Charlie Brown Jr.)

Now I’d be remiss if I made this all about Timberwolves players. McKinley Wright was his amazing self (although struggling a little more than usual) against the Cruise but the story of both games, as well as many games before this, were the Timberwolves training camp signees. This includes the aforementioned Brian Bowen II, Matt Lewis, the human highlight reel known as Isaiah Miller, and Chris Silva.

Isaiah Miller had his turn at being the team’s steady hand, scoring 38 points while shooting 48% through the two games. Chris Silva had his best pair of games, scoring 27 points while shooting 62.5% as well. Matt Lewis’s stats won’t jump out to anyone but he’s remained a solid starter. Bowen didn’t play but deserves a mention because he’s been Iowa’s best non-Timberwolf (although Isaiah Miller is gunning for that spot).

While game discussions are all fine and dandy, we need to start a dialogue about the Wolves alum on the Timberwolves stepping up.

Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has had his hands full with roster adjustments due to various injuries and multiple players going down with flu-like symptoms. Every player charged with the “next man up” mantra (sans Josh Okogie) has ironically been a former member of the Iowa Wolves.

First Patrick Beverley got injured which force Jordan McLaughlin, Leandro Bolmaro, and Jaylen Nowell to all step up in his absence. Then there was Jaden McDaniels getting sick, which led to more Leo as well as more Okogie. Finally, after Karl-Anthony Towns got injured on Wednesday against the Wizards, the Wolves were forced to lean on Naz Reid as well as the non-garbage time debut of Nathan Knight. Each player, including Okogie, has been very impressive in their minutes and has made a compelling case for minutes going forward.

General Iowa Wolves Updates

As mentioned earlier, multiple Iowa Wolves players have been representing Team USA, including Canyon Barry and Brian Bowen II competing in the FIBA 3x3 Americup and World Cup Men’s team qualifiers, respectively.

Center Jordy Tshimanga, who recently made his debut in the last Motor City game (going 6-8 off the bench, was traded from the Cleveland Charge to the Wolves for a future 3rd round earlier this year.

Upcoming Schedule

On December 6th and 7th they have a set of games against the Cleveland Charge. After that, the team will play a set of games on December 10th and 11th against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants