After Walker Kessler’s (very) brief stint in Minnesota, Wendell Moore Jr. and Josh Minott stand as the two rookies that could have roles on the Minnesota Timberwolves when the season starts.
The two have different expectations for year one, but regardless, this season will provide some valuable insight into how to build the roster going forward.
Wendell Moore Jr.
Having played three seasons at Duke, Moore Jr. enters the NBA with some solid basketball experience under his belt before he turns 21 in September. The 6-foot-5, multi-positional Moore Jr. often played small forward in college, but has the ability to handle the ball and distribute. In the early days of NBA Summer League, Head Coach Kevin Burleson played Moore Jr. at point guard, too, allowing him to tap into those skills.
Wendell Moore, a lot like Josh Minott, struggled offensively last night but had a hell of a night defensively which is exactly what I was hoping from him in terms of what the team needs imo— NEW ERA (@WolvesGotNext) July 11, 2022
He had 3 steals and a block last night pic.twitter.com/IPT3jIdVqL
The 2022 Julius Irving Award winner for College Small Forward of the Year has the makings of an all-around player, which, paired with his experience, makes him an ideal fit for this suddenly loaded Wolves roster.
Potential Role in 2022-23:
After losing fan favorite Patrick Beverley in the Rudy Gobert trade, Minnesota lost a crucial point-of-attack defender, ball handler and occasional spot up threat. Theoretically, Moore can slide into a lite version of that role at some point in his rookie season. He won’t be able to replicate Beverley’s production, of course, but can potentially soften the blow of losing a big piece in the Wolves’ guard rotation.
Moore Jr.’s size will allow him to defend opposing guards, and maybe even some small forwards. This adds to the Timberwolves’ already-solid group of players that can guard multiple positions, making them even more flexible. A lineup that includes Moore Jr., Jaden McDaniels and Anthony Edwards provides nice switchability. And if it goes wrong out on the perimeter? Gobert’s there to clean up the mess.
Selecting Moore Jr. felt very strategic by Tim Connelly and Co., as losing at least one of their point guards — whether it was Beverley or D’Angelo Russell — this offseason was quite probable. TyTy Washington was available at No. 26, yet the front office opted for the all-around, more experienced option in Moore Jr. This was yet another signal that this team is all-in on winning now.
In a move that’s quite different than drafting Moore Jr., the Wolves selected an uber-athletic and physically gifted, yet developmental forward in Josh Minott with the No. 45 overall pick.
The AAC All-Freshman Team member pairs a high motor with long strides that help him cover ground quickly. Known as a “raw” prospect, the Wolves will try and help him channel his abilities and polish up his game in the early parts of his career. After signing a four-year, $6.8 million rookie deal on Saturday, Minott has secured a spot on the Timberwolves’ bench. You can read more about that here.
Jarred Vanderbilt is a surprisingly good comparison for Minott, as he’s just one inch shorter and ten pounds lighter than the former Wolf. Minott’s skills are actually quite similar to Vanderbilt’s as well, as he can also fly around the court on both ends and make plays with his 6-foot-11 wingspan (nearly identical wingspan to Vanderbilt). Minott’s shown a bit of self-creation and shooting range in Summer League, which would be a really fun addition to his game to pair with his athleticism.
Potential Role in 2022-23:
Although he’s viewed as a terrific talent, Minott will have some learning to do before locking down a spot in Minnesota’s rotation. He played just one season at Memphis, in which he played just under 15 minutes per contest in 33 games. Despite not getting as much playing time as expected, he still showed next-level athleticism and great size at 6-foot-8 and roughly 200 pounds. That bounce was on display from the moment Summer League started, as we were blessed with this poster in his third game:
ON— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) July 13, 2022
Shooting will also be on the development list for the 19-year-old, as he didn’t shoot many 3-pointers while at Memphis. The most he attempted in a game was two, so perhaps there’s room for growth. Through three summer league games he’s 5-11 from beyond the arc, with two makes coming in the first game against the Denver Nuggets and three coming against the Brooklyn Nets.
(Big shoutout to @WolvesClips on Twitter for being dialed in on Wolves’ Summer League so far)
Josh Minott slow-motion shooting form: what do you notice? pic.twitter.com/Wdvwf4Z7g6— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) July 10, 2022
His play through four summer league games has been pleasantly surprising, with a 22-point, 10-rebound performance against Denver, as well as 14 points and 12 boards against Brooklyn. Minott started both of those games, finishing second on the team in minutes against Denver and leading the team with 27 against Brooklyn.
Getting run is essentially all Wolves fans can ask for at this stage of Minott’s development. His solid play in Summer League is likely what earned him his recent contract, but expectations will be different when the season starts this fall. With a very talented roster, Minott’s role going forward might include spark plug duties off the bench.
Love this block by Josh Minott on the two-for-one attempt pic.twitter.com/owDBdKsxV6— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) July 15, 2022
The front office did a great job of finding a mix of players that can contribute right away while also finding developmental options, and with Connelly’s track record of draft hits, it’s easy to get excited about a guy like Minott. Even though his role may fluctuate, Minott is absolutely a player fans should keep their eyes on over the next year or so.
As for Moore Jr., he’ll have some adjusting to do as well, but the expectation for him will be to contribute on a nightly basis fairly early in the Timberwolves’ 2022-23 campaign.