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Game Preview #62: Wolves vs Hornets

Will the Timberwolves finally beat a bad team? It’s almost time to find out!

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Game Info

Injury Reports



  • Karl-Anthony Towns - Right Calf Strain
  • Wendell Moore Jr - G-League Assignment
  • Taurean Prince - Personal Reasons



  • James Bouknight - G-League Assignment
  • Kai Jones - G-League Assignment
  • Theo Maledon - G-League Two-Way
  • Cody Martin - Left Knee Soreness
  • Bryce McGowens - G-League Two-Way


  • Kelly Oubre Jr - Left Hand Surgery
  • Terry Rozier - Right Hand Sprain

What to Watch For

Charlotte Hornets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Ant vs LaMelo

Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball will be forever linked given their standing in their 2020 draft class. There was plenty of debate at the time over who should’ve been the first pick, and so far, neither player has disappointed in terms of their career production. Edwards has easily had the better of the last two seasons, but he’s also been on a much better team. Regardless of how their respective teams are doing, though, Ant vs LaMelo will likely always be an excellent matchup.

In their meetings, Ball has put up more impressive performances against the Timberwolves than Edwards has against the Hornets. In four meetings, Ball has averaged 17.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.0 assists on 45/37.5/66.7 shooting splits. Conversely, Edwards has averaged 17 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists on 40.5/22.2/69.2 shooting splits in five games.

What could make this matchup even more fun, is that both players are playing high level basketball recently. Edwards obviously made his first All-Star game this season, but both players have been filling up the stat sheet over their last 10 games. Edwards is averaging 26.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals on 48.3/32.9/78 shooting splits, while Ball is averaging 23.7 points, 8.9 assists, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 steals on 42.5/37.3/82.1 shooting splits. Even though these teams have drastically different aspirations for the rest of the season, their young stars have been in a form that suggests we could be in for a show.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Tanking vs Playoffs

The expectations for these teams for the rest of the season are on different ends of the spectrum, and it will be fascinating to see how it plays into this matchup. The Hornets are just 17-43 on the season and have essentially cemented themselves as one of the worst four teams in the league. However, they are still two game back from having the best odds for the number one overall pick.

The Timberwolves, on the other hand, are in a fierce battle for playoff seeding that presents zero room for error. With a win, they could jump to the sixth seed, while a loss would endanger even their play-in standing. It seems silly to fret over every single game, but with only 21 games remaining, the Timberwolves can’t afford any more slipups.

All season, the Timberwolves have consistently taken their opponents for granted and played down to their level. After a week off, they can’t come into this game underestimating the Hornets. Over their last ten games, the Hornets’ rotation has been littered with rookies and fringe rotation players. It would be easy for the Timberwolves to walk into this game overconfident, but hopefully they’ve learned from their past meetings. Ball can get hot in a hurry, Terry Rozier has torched them in the past, Mark Williams is rapidly turning into a quality starting center, and Denis Smith Jr. isn’t going to roll over for anyone. The Timberwolves should win this game easily, but we’ve seen far too many times where they let golden opportunities slip away.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

The Resurgence of Jaylen Nowell?

After a hot start to the season, Nowell’s production fell off a cliff. He was forced to play more of a point guard role due to injuries, and it clearly didn’t suite him. His defense faltered, his playmaking was erratic, and his scoring was highly inefficient. Recently, though, Nowell is rounding back into form.

Over his last ten games, Nowell is averaging 11.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 47.3/37.1/92.9 shooting splits. Being able to move back into a more traditional shooting guard role has significantly helped Nowell’s production. There have still been some stinkers, but his performance has largely improved. When Nowell is struggling, the Timberwolves’ offense severely falters when the starters aren’t on the floor. When things are clicking for him, though, he provides a much needed scoring threat off the bench.

Against the Hornets, Nowell should be in for a solid game. They don’t have much depth, and their few decent perimeter defenders will be more concerned with Edwards and Mike Conley. This season, Nowell is shooting 48% in the mid-range (80th percentile), and the Hornets are allowing teams to shoot 46.5% in the mid-range (29th in the league). As long as Nowell is diligent about his shot selection, he should play a meaningful role in the Timberwolves offense tonight.