It’s been a while since we broke out the Cup of Canis, mostly because there has just been SO much to discuss at length about the Minnesota Timberwolves start to the season. It’s time to pull up a chair and enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning together again, though, over a few quick thoughts.
Wendell Moore Jr., the connector
It isn’t as if Wendell Moore’s minutes have been perfect thus far, but expecting a late-first round rookie to immediately contribute is always a foolish expectation. Still, as he’s being thrown into action more often, I like what I see from him. The book on WMJ is still the same as it was when he was drafted, in that he’s likely a high-floor, low-ceiling player. That looks to be true, given his athletic limitations.
What also looks to be true, is that he could provide a boost to the current roster, specifically as a connective piece on offense. Head coach Chris Finch’s ball-movement offense is a good one in theory, but it’s been harder for Minnesota to lean into that style of play. The starters struggle to make quick decisions with the basketball, which tends to blow that style of play up.
Moore is a quick decision maker, making a choice to shoot, pass, or drive nearly immediately on the catch. He isn’t a special passer by any means, but being just a willing one is a big boost in blended lineups. In theory, the best version of Wendell Moore Jr. looks like a poor man’s version of Lonzo Ball, to me. He doesn’t have the same vertical pop as Ball or the same vision, but he can add value as a spot-up shooter and passer, as well as creating out of a second-side pick-and-roll when needed.
Keep giving the rookie responsibility, and see how he handles it. He’s not going to be a primary ball-handler, but this team doesn’t need another one of those. They just need someone to keep the ball moving and get the team into good spots. With more seasoning, he could be a guy who impacts winning without putting up massive stats.
The offenses spacing problem
I’m not completely surprised that the Timberwolves have struggled defensively as they adjust to a new scheme, and with Karl-Anthony Towns playing a much tougher assignment for him. What has surprised me is the poor offensive results so far, namely the poor spacing from the starting lineup.
We’ve heard Anthony Edwards mention how much he likes playing in smaller lineups, but it’s been shocking to me that the Wolves bigger lineup hasn’t created more space. Replacing Jarred Vanderbilt with Rudy Gobert should not have crowded the floor as much as it has. Those two players occupy similar ground in the half-court. That’s something that has to be fixed once Towns returns from his calf injury.
Genuinely, I’m not sure what the answer is to make that happen. The most obvious answer would be to weaponize Towns’ shooting ability more often, but he hasn’t shot it as well as we’re used to thus far. Maybe if he sees more go through the hoop, he’s more willing to fire away from deep, and it opens up more of the lane for Edwards. Whatever it is, it’s the biggest issue for the offense aside from the ball movement issues we’ve all beaten to death already.
Have a great Tuesday, everyone.