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Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

This Husky Fits Right In With The Wolf Pack

The former University of Washington guard has become a valuable contributor for the Wolves in 2021-22.

My friends and I ran into Jaylen Nowell at Topgolf one time. It was probably a month or two after he was selected 43rd overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Wait, is that Jaylen Nowell?”

“Nah, is it?”

“Hey, good luck this season Jaylen!”

“Thanks guys.”

As a second round pick, I wasn’t sure I’d be seeing a whole lot more of Nowell. Certainly not in person, but not on my TV at home either.

I was very wrong. What’s new.

In his third NBA season, Nowell has solidified his case to permanently remain in the rotation. What he brings to the offense is exactly what the Wolves have needed at times this year. Anthony Edwards acts as someone who can generate their own shot, but if and when he has a bad night, the team finds itself needing someone who can go get a bucket.

And man, can Nowell do that.

Every team needs a guy who they can give the ball to during a rough stretch and say, ‘go get me one.’ The difference between Edwards and Nowell is that Edwards excels at attacking the rim, while Nowell thrives from the midrange.

Nowell has a feathery touch, specifically right outside the paint and near the free throw line. Although both can finish through contact, Edwards’ finishes typically become wall décor. Nowell’s buckets have a Lou Williams feel to them, as he can stop and hit from the midrange and sink floaters.

Nowell is averaging 8.4 PTS this year on about 15 minutes per game. He’s been everywhere in the rotation, from making his first career start to stuck on the bench. In the first two months of the year, he strung together DNPs or played a few minutes in games that were decided before the final buzzer.

He started to get run after D’Angelo Russell missed some time in mid-December, and didn’t disappoint. This included double-digit scoring efforts in seven games to finish the month, including a career-high 29 against the Celtics on 12/27.

Since then, Chris Finch has been forced to keep Nowell on the floor. In addition to his shot-creating from the midrange, he's shooting 38% from three this season. He’s truly become a weapon on offense, being able to score from all three levels.

His defense is still coming along, but because the team’s defense is better than in years past, Finch likely feels more comfortable keeping Nowell out there.

Nowell provides the Wolves an incredibly valuable trait: consistent attacking from guards. When Edwards and/or Russell come out, here comes Nowell. When Finch pulls the starters, things don’t get a whole lot easier for opponents (maybe a bit hyperbolic, but you know what I mean).

Successful teams typically pay a premium for that trait, finding it necessary that they always have someone out there that can create for themselves and score. Not the Wolves though, as Nowell’s being paid $1.8 million this year and his $1.9 million club option will likely be picked up for next year. That’s about as cheap is it’ll be for someone with a skillset like Nowell.

When I said the difference between Edwards and Nowell was that Edwards’ finishes end up as wall décor, I must’ve forgot:

My apologies to Big Tymah.