With the next Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline approaching rapidly, we’re entering crunch time for Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office.
Last Thursday, we polled Wolves fans to check the pulse on two key Timberwolves that find themselves at the center of the team’s rumored trade conversations — D’Angelo Russell and Naz Reid.
Despite the incredible stretch Russell has given Minnesota since Karl-Anthony Towns went down with a right calf strain on November 28, 62% of fans voted that trading D’Lo is the best path forward. Given his status as an upcoming unrestricted free agent, we offered two additional choices: a sign-and-trade (23% of the vote) and re-sign him long-term. Only 15% of fans who participated believed his averages of 20.1 points on 48.6/42.9/90.4 shooting splits and nearly six assists per game since Towns’ injury were worthy of a long-term deal.
Russell has played an increasing amount off the ball, especially when playing alongside Anthony Edwards and Kyle Anderson, which has led to more efficient offense for him personally, Edwards, and the team as a whole, which could serve as a nice recipe for success if Russell sticks around past the deadline.
Similarly, 68% of Wolves’ faithful voted they would trade Reid ahead of the deadline. After shooting 40% from 3 on over three attempts per game in the month of December, the former LSU big man’s long range accuracy slipped back to 23.1% on just under three launches per game in January.
Minnesota is 5.9 points worse per 100 possessions with Reid on the floor this season, per Cleaning the Glass, which may contribute to a considerable majority vote here. However, that mark jumps to -1.3 when he shares the floor with Anthony Edwards and +7.3 (91st percentile) when he plays alongside both Edwards and Jaden McDaniels (626 possessions). He has played more with the two foundational pieces than without (333); in those 333 possessions, the Wolves are a -15.3 points per 100, good for the second percentile (!), per Cleaning the Glass.
Much of Reid’s impact is as simple as pairing him with teammates that help bring out his best skills while also mitigating his weaknesses. When playing alongside length and shot creation, he has been fantastic, and has struggled alongside poor perimeter defenders and limited offensive options. That is important to keep in mind as Reid’s role remains an important one in Towns’ absence.
Whether Russell or Reid remain in Minnesota after the deadline is yet to be determined, but they do appear to be the two most likely players to be dealt, just given the circumstances. And with the team at 27-26 with a handful of games to play before the deadline, it is not surprising to see the fans wanting something new; but new doesn’t always mean better, and Wolves fans may find out the hard way if a potential return doesn’t make the team markedly better.