NBA Summer League is a time for young players to explore the studio space of their respective games and show glimpses of what they can be in the future to front offices across the league.
For the Minnesota Timberwolves, there are a handful of up-and-comers in the organization looking to prove they deserve a spot in the team’s crowded rotation next season. These players will most likely expand their roles in Las Vegas compared to what they would have during the regular season, but they all have a stand-out trait that makes them intriguing as a player.
Let’s take a look at what some of the top prospects on the team bring to the table.
Wendell Moore Jr. — Leadership and Steady Presence
Wendell Moore Jr. doesn’t have a single area of his game on the court that jumps off the page. The former Duke star mostly plays off the ball hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers and will occasionally attack a closeout. He competes on defense and has a solid frame but doesn't have the quick twitch athleticism to be an elite defender.
However, Moore has a steadying presence on the court. He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes when he plays, and he can play a variety of roles on the perimeter.
But the nature of Summer League is chaotic. Teams are hastily put together. Coaches don’t have time to hammer in defensive schemes and multiple offensive sets. Every player is trying to prove they belong and the game can get messy. For that reason, Moore’s leadership amidst the chaos of Summer League will be important in bringing the team together. In his junior season at Duke, he was appointed captain by his teammates, which speaks to his qualities as a leader.
At the same time, expect Moore to take on more ball-handling duties on offense. With the Iowa Wolves, Moore ran more pick-and-rolls as a handler, but he graded in the 47th percentile in points per possession (0.776) created on those plays, per Synergy. He is best when he plays at his own pace and uses his body to fight his way to the rim or create space for a jumper.
Here, Moore uses the screen and sizes up his defender for a crossover to get to the basket.
The 2022 first-round pick will likely be more featured in the offense in Summer League, but it's the intangibles and versatility that will separate Moore from the rest of the crowd.
Leonard Miller — Pushing in Transition
The No. 33 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft has received comparisons to former Wolves’ do-the-dirty-work fan favorite Jarred Vanderbilt. They play the same position and are both left-handed, high-motor forwards. However, what separates the Toronto, Ontario product is his ball-handling, both in transition and half-court settings.
Playing for G League Ignite last season, Miller’s most frequent play type was out on the break. He finished in the 90th percentile in points per transition possession (1.285), according to Synergy.
Miller has the length to force turnovers and the skill to push the ball. Once he’s in the open floor, he has decent passing vision for his size.
But what also stands out about his game is his touch around the basket. He can use his long strides to elude defenders and still have the balance to finish like he does in this play below.
His ability to grab-and-go before finishing with authority on the break makes him one of the most exciting young players in the organization, and someone to keep a very close eye on during the Wolves’ stay in Vegas.
Josh Minott — Turning Defense Into Offense
When the Wolves’ 45th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft Josh Minott came out of the University of Memphis, he was regarded as a raw prospect.
He was one of the youngest players selected and didn’t have much in-game experience. Minott only started five games in college and averaged 14.6 minutes per game, which is not exactly what you would expect out of a one-and-done draft entrant.
However, in the run he got with the Wolves and with the Iowa Wolves he showed flashes of solid court vision and the ability to get to basket and finish — all of which are skills he’ll need to develop to become a good player as a combo forward.
But what truly sticks out with Minott’s game is turning defense into offense.
Check out these two clips from the season where Minott makes on the defensive end and turns it into two easy points on offense.
Minott plays with a ton of energy. He’s developed a ton since 2022 Summer League behind the scenes based on his G League film. It will be exciting to see Minott get more spotlight in more extended run.
Matteo Spagnolo — High-Level Passing Reads
The 2022 draft-and-stash prospect hasn’t yet officially come over from Europe. He’s still contracted with Real Madrid through 2024, but Wolves fans can get another taste of the 6-foot-5 Italian guard’s game at Summer League.
Simply put, Spagnolo is a gifted passer. More than likely, he’ll dazzle the Vegas crowd with a no-look pass to a cutting teammate.
A quick glance at his highlights shows his offensive flare.
Spagnolo still needs to round out the rough edges in his game. He has flashes of brilliance as a shotmaker, but he needs to become a better catch-and-shoot threat from downtown to force defenses to close out on him to access his passing. He also has room to grow as a finisher in traffic.
With more high-level game reps, Spagnolo could come over in a year or two and infuse his dynamic offensive game into the Wolves.
Jaylen Clark (hypothetically) — On-Ball Defense
The reigning Naismith Defense Player of the Year Jaylen Clark will miss Summer League and the start of next season with a torn achilles injury he sustained in March at UCLA. However, what’s clear is that Clark is an on-ball pest. He was one of the best point-of-attack defenders in this year’s draft class.
Standing at 6-foot-4, Clark can slide through screens with ease and has the anticipation to get up into offensive players without getting beat. He is a decent athlete but what separates him is his technical approach to defense. His footwork is efficient, and he’s always balanced.
His six-foot-nine wingspan combined with his defensive feel makes Clark a dangerous defensive weapon
Here he is below forcing Utah Jazz lottery pick Keyonte George into an airball floater.
Clark is already an impactful NBA-level defender. It will be about his offensive game rounding out to see if the Wolves’ 2023 second-round pick can stick in the league.
Moore, Minott, Miller and Spagnolo will make for an exciting showing at Summer League for the Wolves. All four players are looking to prove themselves and add something special to the roster.