Tyrese Martin’s late-game shot-making led the Atlanta Hawks to a close victory on Wednesday afternoon, but the Minnesota Timberwolves’ young prospects were still able to show off their dazzling talent.
Minnesota was missing Wendell Moore Jr. for the second straight game due to left knee soreness. With Moore out of the picture, Brandon Williams led the Wolves with 23 points, including 3-for-6 shooting from downtown.
FINAL: Hawks 99, Wolves 93— Canis Hoopus (@canishoopus) July 12, 2023
Martin: 25 pts, 9 reb
Bufkin/Kabengele: 13 pts each
B. Williams: 23 pts
Miller: 18 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast, 3 blk
Minott: 12 pts, 8 reb, 5 stocks
• Won 56-40 in paint
• 15 TOs -> 19 ATL PTS
• 15 OREB, 20 SC PTS allowed
• Lost 46-30 on glass pic.twitter.com/6G1sANv4Cq
In typical Summer League fashion, both teams appeared a bit sloppy early on. The Wolves and Hawks exchanged blows for much of the first quarter and a half, with Atlanta eventually taking a 10-point lead into halftime.
Still, there were some bright spots in the first half. Leonard Miller continued looking like the steal of the 2023 NBA Draft with his elite defense and improving halfcourt offensive game. Just before halftime, he came over to help on Kobe Bufkin, swatting away his layup attempt.
Leonard Miller weakside help block pic.twitter.com/VislprbOT4— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) July 12, 2023
There had been a good amount of hype surrounding Bufkin headed into Summer League, and for good reason. The Hawks’ No. 15 overall selection from the University of Michigan has tremendous scoring upside with his speed and athleticism. Fortunately for the Timberwolves, Miller did an excellent job of containing him. Bufkin finished with just 13 points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Wolves fans have been fixated on Miller ever since President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly was able to trade up and select the talented prospect in the second round of last month’s NBA Draft. His scoring did not come quite as easily in this one as last time out, where he led the team with 20 points. But Miller made the right reads as a playmaker, and still knocked down a few impressive jumpers. The former G League Ignite star is continuing to raise eyebrows regarding his role with the Timberwolves this coming season.
Leonard Miller post jumper pic.twitter.com/2AISyJC00M— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) July 12, 2023
Another prospect that turned heads in the first half was DJ Carton, an undrafted second-year guard out of Marquette. In a sluggish first half, Carton looked like the best player on the floor at times. He consistently pushed the ball and stayed aggressive, absorbing contact to draw an and-1 opportunity and finding Brian Bowen II on a lob in transition.
Carton’s biggest highlight of the game came in the second quarter when he picked off a lazy pass from Seth Lundy and took it the other way for a windmill slam. As a frequent stand-out with the Iowa Wolves last season, he is another potential candidate for a future Wolves two-way contract.
In the second half of Wednesday’s game, it was the Timberwolves’ defense and three-point shooting that sparked a furious rally to give them the lead, after going down by as many as 14 points. One of the catalysts to Minnesota’s 24-7 run was Josh Minott.
While he had a bit of a rough start to the contest with a few turnovers and missed opportunities, Minott’s awareness picked up and he finished the game with two blocks and three steals, none bigger than his takeaway from Vít Krejčí to stop the bleeding in the third. Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch noted this week that he believes Minott can help the team win this coming season, and plays like this are a good omen for the energy he can bring Minnesota off the bench.
"Josh Minott is a guy who we feel can help us win this season."— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) July 10, 2023
-- Chris Finch on @KFAN1003 this morning.
Finchy went on to add how much they like Minott's floor vision. He also spoke highly of Leonard Miller. However, it will be tough to find a spot for him in the rotation.
Down the stretch, it was the heroics of Brandon Williams that gave the Wolves a chance until the final buzzer. He scored eight of his team-high 23 points in the final frame, finishing the night an efficient 8-for-14 from the field.
Ultimately, Martin overpowered Minnesota, nearly logging a double-double with 25 points and nine rebounds. The former UConn Husky scored or assisted on 19 of the Hawks’ 29 points in the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves will return to action in Summer League play tomorrow, Thursday, July 13, when they take on the Sacramento Kings at 8:30 PM CT on NBA TV.