The Minnesota Timberwolves have no shortage of youth or talent on their 2021-22 roster. In fact, entering the season Minnesota had the third-youngest roster in the NBA.
Every Thursday for the rest of the regular season Bally Sports North will feature one young player on the Wolves -- and occasionally with the G League Iowa Wolves -- to see who will rise to the challenge of bringing a consistent, winning team to Minnesota.
This is the 12th edition of the 2021-22 Young Wolves Tracker.
SPOTLIGHT ON …
Guard Jaylen Nowell
When we featured Nowell in late December, he was just beginning to play more minutes.
Now the 22-year-old guard is arguably the top player on the Minnesota Timberwolves bench.
Nowell has received double-digit minutes in 11 of the team’s last 13 games – he was inactive Jan. 13 against Memphis – and is averaging 12.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game in that span.
On Dec. 27 in a 108-103 win over Boston, Nowell erupted for a career-high 29 points on 10-for-18 shooting. He sank 6 of 9 3-pointers against the Celtics and added six boards and three helpers.
As a reminder, Nowell was inactive or did not play in 14 of the Timberwolves’ first 25 games this season. He was relegated to a tiny role off the bench and didn’t top 10 minutes in a single game until Dec. 10 against Cleveland, which signaled the first of 13 contests where he’s reached double figures.
If we exclude the Jan. 13 date with the Grizzlies, the lone game Nowell missed after spraining his left ankle in the first half two nights earlier against New Orleans, the former Pac-12 player of the year has been rock solid on the floor for Minnesota.
Nowell came off the bench and kickstarted a slumping Wolves offense Sunday against Golden State. He finished second on the team in points with 17 while Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell finished with nine and seven points apiece.
Two nights later against the Knicks, Nowell delivered a repeat performance, knocking down 5 of 12 shots en route to a game-high 14 bench points.
In Wednesday night’s loss to the Hawks, Nowell’s minutes dipped below 20 for the first time in three outings, but he remained efficient, drilling 2 of 3 3-pointers in a nine-point effort.
On the season, Nowell is hitting 48% of his shots and knocking down triples at a 37% clip – both marks represent the best of his three-year career.
It’s fair to suggest the more Nowell is involved, the stronger the Timberwolves are off the bench.
– Malik Beasley, a certified sniper in bulk, has scored in double figures in three straight and five of his last six contests. Beasley’s scoring tear isn’t as dynamic as it was from Dec. 17-Dec. 31 when he averaged 20.3 points across seven games, but he’s still getting buckets. Beasley has connected on 18 of his last 40 3-point attempts (45%).
– Karl-Anthony Towns was held below 20 points for the first time in six games Tuesday versus Atlanta. The prolific-shooting big man took just 13 shot attempts and scored 17 points against the Hawks. KAT did add 10 rebounds and managed to keep intact a streak of six straight games with at least one 3-pointer.
– With five more dimes in Tuesday’s 12-point loss, Russell upped his assist total to 59 over his last seven games (8.4 assists per game). Russell also is feeling it from outside the arc. The 25-year-old guard has clipped 19 of his last 47 treys (40%), improving on his 35.4% mark from deep this season.
– Edwards sandwiched a nine-point performance against the Warriors on Sunday with scoring outputs of 28 and 30 and 21 and 20. The second-year star is averaging 21.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists since the start of the New Year. Remember to vote Ant, KAT and DLo to the All-Star Game.