The Minnesota Timberwolves are shuffling their roster to bring in 3-point shooting help. According to Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, the Wolves are signing former Los Angeles Lakers wing Matt Ryan.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are signing ex-Lakers wing shooter Matt Ryan on a two-way NBA contract, sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski. Ryan had a solid stint for the Lakers, making 13 three-pointers over 12-game stretch.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 7, 2022
In a corresponding move, Minnesota is releasing guard A.J. Lawson, whom the team signed to a two-way contract last month after getting a look at him during training camp.
Ryan, 6-foot-7 swingman from Chattanooga, cracked the Lakers’ rotation to begin the season, averaging 3.9 points on 30.6% FG/37.1% 3PT/80.0% FT shooting splits and 1.2 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game across 12 contests.
Throughout the preseason and into the regular season, he flashed an evident ability to connect on difficult 3s, whether it be off the dribble, running off screens, relocating off a screen, or simply spotting up in space.
You can get an idea of his talent by viewing all 24 3-pointers Ryan made with the Lakers this season, including both preseason and regular season games:
His season performance culminated with one of the first ‘feel good’ moments of the season for the Purple and Gold, when he hit an improbable shot to send a game against the New Orleans Pelicans to overtime. The Lakers went on to win 120-117.
Last season, Ryan spent time with the Grand Rapids Gold in the G-League, where he put up 12.1 points on 42.9/38.0/92.9 shooting splits, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists across 23.6 minutes per game in 12 appearances, and also saw the floor in one game for the Boston Celtics.
You may also remember Ryan’s incredible story about working as a Door Dasher and in a cemetery after not receiving an invite to the G-League Bubble in 2020.
Lakers Matt Ryan didn't receive an invite to the G League Bubble and had to work at door dash & a Cemetery. Look at him now he just had 20 with the Lakers against the defending champs after having a strong summer league with Boston Celtics pic.twitter.com/8pX17dcaw1— Swish Cultures (@swishcultures_) October 12, 2022
The move is understandable from the Timberwolves’ perspective. Ryan was a surprise cut, as Los Angeles is moving to free roster spots ahead of December 15, when most players who signed new contracts as free agents this past summer become eligible to be traded. He brought shooting to a Lakers team without much of it and now will look to do the same in Minnesota.
Given the extended absences of the team’s two best 3-point shooters, Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain) and Taurean Prince (right shoulder sublaxation), adding more shooting on the wing makes complete sense for Minnesota.
The Timberwolves currently rank 22nd in 3s made (11.1) and 27th in 3-point percentage (32.6%), and need to replace production from 39.3% and 37.1% career 3-point shooters, respectively.
Additionally, the team is struggling to replace the value Malik Beasley brought as an elite marksman on high volume; Beasley shot an incredible 38.9% on 8.9 3s attempted per contest in his 130-game tenure in Minnesota.
The team hoped career 41.0% 3-point shooter Bryn Forbes would be able to backfill some of that, but he is shooting 25.0% from deep on his 24 attempts so far this season. Beyond Forbes, Anthony Edwards (34.5%), Jaylen Nowell (32.0%), D’Angelo Russell (31.9%), Naz Reid (28.9%) and Jordan McLaughlin (25.0%) are navigating cool starts to the 2022-23 campaign in their own rights.
Kyle Anderson (42.9%), Taurean Prince (38.9%) and Jaden McDaniels (37.3%) are the only Timberwolves shooting above league average from 3, and none of them are taking more than three triples per game. Surely the Wolves hope that first-round pick Wendell Moore Jr. can replicate the 47.1% 3-point mark on 6.8 attempts per game he put up in five games with the Iowa Wolves, or his 41.3% mark on 126 triggers as a senior at Duke last season.
How much Ryan plays is yet to be determined, but given that he brings a crucial, highly marketable skill to a team that badly needs it, he may see game action sooner rather than later.