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Canis Pulsus - Vol. XIII Results

The Canis Hoopus collective have submitted their first report cards of the season.

It appears the Minnesota Timberwolves and my middle school track & field career have something in common: They’re fast starters! Well, after a tumultuous start, it appears our Wolves have finally gotten their act together and are now out ahead in this first quarter of the season.

Let’s dive into our 1st quarter progress reports!

(Note: Canis Pulsus Vol. XIII data was collected by 12/2)


Karl-Anthony Towns

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

B+

‘20-’21 final grade: A-

Although KAT is still averaging 24/9/3 on .508/.442/.817 shooting splits, most of those numbers are actually below average for the two-time all-star. His offensive production remains one of the few things that have been consistent for the Wolves offense this year and without it, they would be in a world of hurt. However, it feels like his bemoaning of the “zebras” feels like it’s at an all-time high. Towns still has plenty of room to improve this season.

Full voting results:

D’Angelo Russell

Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

B+

‘20-’21 final grade: B-

One of the most talked about storylines for Minnesota this year is their defensive intensity. Although Pat Bev’s arrival as a culture changer has certainly affected that, D’Lo defensive buy-in also appears higher than ever. Russell is averaging a career best blocks per game (0.8) and defensive rating per 100 possessions (109), and the eye-test definitely lines up with that. His shooting is at an anomalous career worst both from the field and perimeter, but once that turns around, D’Lo should find himself in the A range.

Full voting results:

Taurean Prince

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

C

‘20-’21 final grade: N/A

It’s always going to be tough to win over the crowd if you’re the person that Ricky Rubio was traded for (See: JFT). That said, it also doesn’t help if you’re shooting far below your career averages from the field. Prince is shooting a frigid 27.6% from beyond and has looked slow on defense, but he has recently taken some steps in the right direction to redeem his grade. Exhibit A: Game-winning basket vs the 76ers.

Full voting results:

Malik Beasley

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

C+

‘20-’21 final grade: B

It’s been quite a long road back to the court for Malik. After his off the court issues kept him out for 12 games, he suffered an injury that cost him the final 22 games of last season. That’s a long time for someone to be off the court. Beas has had a couple nights where his hot shooting has resurfaced and those games seem to occur more and more frequently, but we’ll need to see a lot more consistency from him moving forward.

Full voting results:

Anthony Edwards

Indiana Pacers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

A-

‘20-’21 final grade: A+

Young Ant has already made strides in his sophomore campaign. He’s become more efficient scoring from the field, increased his 3-point effectiveness, improved defensively according to nearly any metric, and has begun contributing consistently in other areas on the court. For example, Ant is averaging 6.3 rebounds per game, up from 4.7 his rookie season. Just because I know John Meyer’s dad wants to know, Andrew Wiggins’ career-high in a season is 5.2 rebounds per game. The only real question about Ant is what other areas he’ll continue to grow as the season continues.

Full voting results:

Patrick Beverley

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

A

‘20-’21 final grade: N/A

Pat Bev has been a solid consolation prize as a replacement veteran point guard after the front office traded Ricky Rubio this offseason. Mr. 94 Feet (SMUT) has been the cliché “culture changer” for the Wolves whether he’s been on the floor or off the floor. He’s one of two players who received only A or B grades for this progress report and I don’t expect that to change moving forward.

Full voting results:

Jarred Vanderbilt

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

A

‘20-’21 final grade: B+

The highest graded player in this edition is none other than Vando. V8. The Vandolorian. Many of us, myself included, were perplexed when the front office chased Vanderbilt so hard once free agency opened up. Well, aren’t we glad that we locked him up on a 3-year $13.8 million deal? Vando is currently 9th in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (4th per 36 mins), but perhaps more importantly, he’s Ant’s favorite player on the team.

Full voting results:

Josh Okogie

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images

C+

‘20-’21 final grade: B-

While players who were drafted on either side of JO already received contract extensions (Kevin Huerter and Grayson Allen), Okogie didn’t find himself with one. I had hoped that he would prove his worth by having a career-year, but instead JO is having a career-worst year. Even by his low standards, Nonstop is shooting a dismal 18.8% from deep. He still holds value as an effective defender and perhaps his game-sealing block has earned him some passing grades, but we’re going to need more from the 4th year swingman.

Full voting results:

Jake Layman

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Incomplete

‘20-’21 final grade: C

A quarter of the way into the season and Jake has played a grand total of 34 minutes. It’s the final year of his current contract and it’s possible we have seen the last of the Layman Era in Minnesota. Salute.

Full voting results:

Leandro Bolmaro

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

C+

‘20-’21 final grade: N/A

The 2nd most most important Leo (He actually prefers “Lea” to “Leo”) to the Timberwolves has had quite the rookie season thus far. He started with the Iowa Wolves, flourishing in 4 games by averaging 17 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks, on .400/.387/1.00 splits. After a handful of garbage time minutes in the big league, Coach Finch knew he couldn’t keep such a plus player on the bench forever. Bolmaro’s had some mixed performances during his meaningful minutes, but his utility as a strong point-of-attack defender and passer will likely prove to be important later this season.

Full voting results:

Jaden McDaniels

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

B-

‘20-’21 final grade: A-

Once considered the center piece of Kyle Theige’s heart a Ben Simmons trade package, Big Mac has had a rough start to the season. His struggles have primarily revolved his difficulty with the officiating, evidenced by his 5.4 fouls per 36 minutes. When he’s been able to stay on the floor, McDaniels has still been the same defensive stalwart that we’re accustomed to seeing. He’s even earned the respect of veterans around the league. Adjusting to the refs and finding a consistent rhythm from deep will be his keys to success moving forward.

Full voting results:

Naz Reid

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

B+

‘20-’21 final grade: B+

Naz has continued to shine in the limited opportunities that he’s gotten. Although his 2-man combination with KAT has been great, he is also one of the lone backup bigs that we have on the roster. Though Vando and Big Mac have been effective in some situations, they don’t have the height or girth to battle with true opposing bigs. As a result, Naz has been regulated to mostly backup minutes to spell KAT. It’s not a matter of if, but when his time will come to get increased opportunities.

Full voting results:

Jaylen Nowell

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Incomplete

‘20-’21 final grade: B-

Nowell has only played 64 total minutes this season. That’s 30 more than Jake Layman. However, he doesn’t seem as buried on the depth chart as Finch has given him 6-7 minutes of burn in a few games recently. During that limited run, Jaylen’s demonstrated some defensive chops that earned the recognition of his coach. That’s a place to start, at least.

Full voting results:

Jordan McLaughlin

Los Angeles Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

D+

‘20-’21 final grade: C

Poor JMac. McLovin’s young journey has had plenty of twists and turns already. Beginning as an undrafted undersized point guard, to G-league call-up, to two-way contract competitor, to now a guaranteed 3-year $6.5 million backup. Unfortunately, things haven’t been so rosy lately. As McLaughlin’s play has plummeted, so has his role on the team. Hopefully he can figure it out soon, both for his and the Timberwolves sake. Otherwise it won’t be long before he’s going to adopt a new nickname: McLaughable (Just kick me out now).

Full voting results:

Nathan Knight

Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Incomplete

‘20-’21 final grade: N/A

The Knight King™, as am now officially calling him, has been a bit of an enigma. He had some success as a two-way player for the Atlanta Hawks last year, but their glut of serviceable bigs left him as the odd man out. Now with a new opportunity in Minnesota, he’s been bouncing back and forth between the Timberwolves practice squad and the Iowa Wolves squad. In the lone game he’s played for Iowa, he scored 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Most recently, Coach Finch even gave him some run with KAT out with injury and he performed admirably against a veteran Brooklyn Nets team. Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come from The Knight King.

Full voting results:

McKinley Wright IV

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

Incomplete

‘20-’21 final grade: N/A

The 23-year-old rookie out of Champlin, Minnesota has been taking the (G-)league by storm as a rookie. He’s currently averaging 23.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5 assists on sterling .531/.485/.950 shooting splits. His only action with the varsity squad was in the season opener, getting 4 minutes of garbage time against the Houston Rockets. Wright certainly looks the part so far and with JMac struggling, he might have a shot for minutes in later into the season.

Full voting results:

Coaching staff

Minnesota Timberwolves v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A-

‘20-’21 final grade: A

I don’t know what else Coach Finch and crew could do in order to earn a higher grade. Sure, the offense hasn’t looked great, but how long has it been since we’ve asked for a competent defensive team? Even during the General Soreness playoff run, the defense hasn’t looked close to what we’ve been seeing all season. He has the Wolves humming as the 5th best defensive rating in the league. Me likey.

Full voting results:

Front office

2020 NBA Draft Minnesota Timberwolves Team Operations Room Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Incomplete

‘20-’21 final grade: B+

Getty Images really needs to do a better job of uploading Sachin Gupta pictures to their database. The front office received some positive reviews from the CH comments section, though I’m assuming those grades are based off of moves from pre-Gersson-Gate, such as attaining Pat Bev at the cost of invaluable role players (%). That said, the post-Gersson FO has yet to make any moves so I’m giving them the majority Incomplete grade.

Full voting results:

Ownership

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

B

‘20-’21 final grade: C

While the FO is getting the Incomplete, I’m averaging out ownership’s grade to a B. Marc Lore and ARod seem to be making their fair share of courtside appearances while avoiding any unnecessary drama (See: Sarver, Robert). I don’t really know who to chalk up the “Miami Wolves” to the FO or ownership, but hey, there haven’t been any rumors about Seattle so that’s a win!

Full voting results:

What do you hope the Timberwolves achieve in the remaining quarter of the season the MOST?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Win as much as possible (70%)

At the time of voting, the Wolves were sitting above .500 at 11-10, good for 6th in the Western Conference standings. There’s plenty of season left and if Wolves fans know one thing, it’s that things can change in a hurry. In the meantime, D’Lo & Co. have maintained the old adage of taking it one game at a time which is probably a wise decision. In the meantime, where are we meeting up for the flash mob?

Full voting results:

Will the Timberwolves make the play-in tournament?

Yes (92%)

Previous grade: Yes (81%)

At the time of writing this piece, it looks like there’s quite a diluted pool of teams vying for spots 5-10 in the Western Conference as they are separated by just 1 game. ONE. Expand that to seeds 4-12 in the standings and it’s just a measly 4 games between them. To be honest, I don’t know if that means the margin for error is bigger or smaller than the Wolves are hoping for.

Full voting results:

Will the Timberwolves make the playoffs?

Yes (77%)

Previous grade: Yes (65%)

The confidence of CH dips down 15% points between Minnesota’s play-in and playoff chances. That’s a fair amount, but still enough to inspire confidence. Will the Wolves be able to make it to 2022 without completely imploding like a dying star? If they can manage to tread water as they’ve been doing recently, then early January will feature a 4-game stint against the Thunder twice, followed by Houston and New Orleans. HOLD!!!

Full voting results:

With 1/4 of the season over, my feelings on the direction of the Timberwolves are...

Miami Heat v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Slightly optimistic (49.1%)

Previous grade: Slightly optimistic (44.4%)

The see-saw of optimism-pessimism at Canis Hoopus remains unbeaten. Of the 53 CH voters in this first report card edition, 96% feel some semblance of positivity. That’s an uptick from 87% prior to the start of the season! Until this ends up on @OldTakesExposed, let’s ride the wave together!

Full voting results:

Link to the full results: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19o638LIeEl5CF1uvEqsgJvDV8-OTDxoWLe75uD_dss4/edit?usp=sharing


That’ll do it. The first quarter progress report of the 2021-2022 Timberwolves results in a 2.86 grade point average. Although my mom would be very disappointed in that, I think most parents would be proud of their B- student. If you’re reading this, I want you to know I’m proud of you. 'til next time!