Timberpups Tracker: Season in review

WPPROD

The Minnesota Timberwolves have one of the most exciting collections of young players on an NBA roster with nearly half of their players 25 or younger. Every Thursday, FOX Sports North tracks the progress of those young Timberwolves.

This is the final edition of the 2016-17 Timberpups Tracker.

(A glossary of the advanced statistics used for season totals, which are from basketball-reference.com. can be found at the end of this article)

KRIS DUNN (age 23, first season)

Statistical season averages: 17.1 minutes, 3.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 37.7 FG%, 28.8 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 8.1 PER, 43.2 TS%, 14.2 USG%, 90 ORtg, 109 DRtg, -0.1 VORP

Notable: Dunn may be head coach Tom Thibodeau’s guy after going No. 5 overall in last summer’s draft, but it’s clear that even Thibs didn’t believe he was ready quite yet. Dunn started just seven games as a rookie thanks to a resurgent Ricky Rubio, who had a career year offensively. The Wolves were shopping Rubio at the deadline, more evidence that Dunn is — or was — the plan long term. It’s hard to ignore Rubio’s rise though, a development that makes Dunn’s role with the Wolves a little less cut and dry.

 

TYUS JONES (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages: 12.9 minutes, 3.5 points, 1.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 41.4 FG%, 35.6 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 13.8 PER, 52.3 TS%, 13.6 USG%, 114 ORtg, 111 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: Jones’ appeared in 60 games this year, but has yet to start a game in the NBA. Thibodeau seemed particularly averse to playing Jones early in the season. He became a regular contributor off the bench, and displayed some slick playmaking abilities throughout the season, even if his offensive skillset wasn’t enough to unseat Rubio or Dunn.

More Timberwolves coverage

ZACH LAVINE (age 22, third season)

Statistical season averages: 37.2 minutes, 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, 45.9 FG%, 38.7 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 14.6 PER, 57.6 TS%, 21.7 USG%, 112 ORtg, 115 DRtg, 0.8 VORP

Notable: LaVine appeared to have taken a step forward before losing half his season to an ACL tear on Feb. 3. He was on pace for career highs in points and rebounds, even if his defense never really improved. His shot — coupled with his propensity for posterizing dunks — made for a tantalizing offensive skillset, but his defensive deficiencies continue to be a liability.

 

SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD (age 24, fourth season)

Statistical season averages: 19.4 minutes, 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, 48.2 FG%, 33.6 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 14.9 PER, 56.6 TS%, 21.5 USG%, 114 ORtg, 116 DRtg, -0.9 VORP

Notable: The Wolves’ top contributor off the bench for much of the season, ‘Bazz (the Great and Powerful, per our own Dave Benz) averaged 9.9 points per game. He upped that production at bit after the All-Star break, chipping in 11 points per game off the bench. Muhammad was an essential contributor on a team that lacked bench scoring. Scheduled to be a restricted free agent, he could return to the Wolves next season at the right price.

 

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (age 21, second season)

Statistical season averages: 37.0 minutes, 25.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, 54.2 FG%, 36.7 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 26.0 PER, 61.8 TS%, 27.5 USG%, 121 ORtg, 110 DRtg, 5.4 VORP

Notable: Towns built on his Rookie of the Year campaign in nearly every way, averaging a double-double and more than 25 points per game, numbers not seen out of a Wolves’ big man since Kevin Love. He broke one of Love’s franchise records, too, setting a new single-season scoring record with 2,061 points. He scored 40 points three times and made some league history in the final game of the regular season, becoming the first player to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 100 3-pointers in the same season.

 

ANDREW WIGGINS (age 22, third season)

Statistical season averages: 37.2 minutes, 23.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks, 45.1 FG%, 35.6 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 16.5 PER, 53.4 TS%, 29.0 USG%, 107 ORtg, 115 DRtg, -0.6 VORP

Notable: Wiggins was spectacular once again in his third season, taking another step forward on offense, even as his work on defense seemed to move backward. Still, he provided plenty of highlights, hitting a memorable buzzer-beater against the Phoenix Suns. He and Towns each scored 40 points in the Wolves’ loss to the Lakers last week. They were the first duo to do it since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in 2015.

 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

PER — Player Efficiency Rating: A measure of per-minute production standardized such that the league average is 15.

TS% — True Shooting Percentage: A measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.

USG% — Usage Percentage: An estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.

ORtg — Offensive Rating: An estimate of points produced per 100 possessions.

DRtg — Defensive Rating: An estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions.

VORP — Value over Replacement Player: A box score estimate of the points per 100 TEAM possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level (-2.0) player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season.