Timberpups Tracker: Jan. 28 edition

Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng averaged 8.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 blocks over the past week.

 

Every Wednesday, FOX Sports North’s Phil Ervin tracks the progress of the Timberwolves’ young core (players on the first or second year of their rookie contract).

ANDREW WIGGINS (age 19, first season)

Statistical averages, past week (season): 39 minutes (33.5), 16.5 points (15.2), 4.5 rebounds (4.3), 1.5 assists (1.8), 1.3 steals (1.1), 1.3 blocks (0.8), 43.1 FG% (42.9), 0.0 3PT% (36.6)

Advanced stats, season: 12.72 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 50.4 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 20.8 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes)

Quote: "I think I’ve had several (welcome to the NBA moments) throughout the course of the year. Just realizing sometimes who I’m guarding. Last year, I was watching them on TV." — Wiggins

Noted: Ask around the Target Center, and you’ll hear the words "rookie wall" used to describe Wiggins’ slight drop-off in play recently. With the minutes he’s playing for a depleted roster, it’s not surprising.

ZACH LAVINE (age 19, first season)

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Statistical averages, past week (season): 16.3 minutes (22.8), 4.5 points (8.0), 1.5 rebounds (2.2), 2.8 assists (3.4), 0.0steals (0.8), 0.0 blocks (0.1), 33.3 FG% (40.5), 50.0 3PT% (26.6)

Advanced stats, season: 9.05 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 47.9 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 20.2 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes)

Quote: "It’s going to change. Dudes (are) going to get minutes, some people get reduced minutes. I know I’m a rookie. I know I’m going to have to deal with being put in different situations like I have already. So I’ll just go at it the best I can." — LaVine on his role with some of Minnesota’s injured players coming back

Noted: LaVine’s above acknowledgement might be a good thing. Playing him more at shooting guard — assuming Ricky Rubio ever comes back at the point — would allow LaVine to do what he does best: attack the rim. Lately, he hasn’t been doing nearly enough of that, instead settling for long, contested jumpers, often early in the shot clock.

GORGUI DIENG (age 25, second season)

Statistical averages, past week (season): 31.0 minutes (29.8), 8.8 points (9.8), 11.8 rebounds (8.6), 2.5 assists (2.3), 0.3 steals (1.0), 1.3 blocks (1.8), 46.9 FG% (49.7), 0.0 3PT% (33.3)

Advanced stats, season: 18.08 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 56.7 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 14.7 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes)

Quote: "It’s a lot easier, because he got all the attention when he’s on the court." — Dieng on playing alongside Nikola Pekovic

Noted: The return of Pekovic to the lineup last Wednesday hasn’t bridled Dieng at all. If anything, it’s helped him. When the two are on the floor together — each has started the past two games — Dieng can be a matchup problem for smaller power forwards. And with another talented center in the fold, Dieng can play more aggressively, knowing a foul or two isn’t as costly as it was when he was the team’s only healthy five-man earlier this season.

ANTHONY BENNETT (age 21, second season)

Timberpups Tracker Archive

Statistical averages, past week (season): 11.3 minutes (16.6), 3.3 points (5.7), 2.3 rebounds (4.0), 0.0 assists (0.9), 0.3 steals (0.5), 0.3 blocks (0.3), 31.3 FG% (42.5), 0.0 3PT% (35.7)

Advanced stats, season: 11.48 player efficiency rating (based on 15.0 league average), 45.6 true shooting percentage (accounting for free throws and 3-pointers), 17.0 usage rate (possessions used per 40 minutes)

Quote: "He’s like a canvas that hasn’t been painted yet." — Coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders on Bennett

Noted: Saunders’ comment  above from training camp remains true after Bennett has failed to harness his skills effectively in his second season. To make matters worse, he missed practice Saturday with some knee soreness and played just 12 seconds in Sunday’s loss at Atlanta. But Bennett did come back and play 19:07 in Monday’s loss to Oklahoma City, so all appears to be well on the health front.

Did not play due to injury

SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD (age 22, second season)

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