Timberwolves’ Patton makes long-awaited NBA debut

Welcome to the 2017-18 edition of the Timberpups Tracker. This year, we’re taking a different tact. With Minnesota having taken over a G League franchise in Iowa, and renaming it the Wolves, each Thursday we’ll either track the progress of the players who might be of help to the Timberwolves in the future or a current member of the Minnesota roster. We’ll also give updates on the other young players from the previous week.

This is the 18th edition of the 2017-18 Timberpups Tracker.

 

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward Justin Patton

It took a couple months of rehab from foot surgery, a full season of G League hoops and a boatload of patience, but it finally happened.

Minnesota’s first-round pick in last year’s draft, Justin Patton, found his way on an NBA court for the first time in his career.

More Timberwolves coverage

Towards the end of a gloomy 121-97 loss to Utah on Sunday, Patton gave Timberwolves fans something to cheer about. He checked into the game with 3:44 remaining and received a big ovation from fans at the Target Center. One minute later, the Creighton product caught a pass from Aaron Brooks on the block, pivoted and tossed up a left-handed hook shot over Utah center Ekpe Udoh for his first two NBA points.

It’s been a long journey to that bucket for the 20-year-old.

Patton was a rather unknown prospect heading into his senior year at North High School in Omaha, Neb., but exploded onto the recruiting scene after nearly averaging a double-double. After rising to a top-100 prospect in the nation, he decided to stick around his hometown and committed to Creighton.

Patton redshirted his freshman year with the Bluejays but quickly “wowed” scouts once he saw the floor. Named the Big East Freshman of the Year in 2016-17, Patton averaged 12.9 points per game and led the Jays in rebounding (6.2) blocks (1.4) and field-goal percentage (67.6 percent).

Now that Patton has a few minutes of experience in the NBA, Timberwolves fans hope he still has some of that “wow” factor up his sleeve.

TRACKING TIMBERPUPS

Karl-Anthony Towns gobbled up 20 rebounds in the 93-92 win over Dallas on Friday. It was the sixth 20-rebound game of his career and his first since grabbing a career-best 23 boards against Boston on Jan. 5.

Andrew Wiggins is shooting 25 percent (6 of 24) from downtown and 39.6 percent from the field in his last six games.

— With guard Jeff Teague out with an injury against Utah on Sunday, Tyus Jones found himself in the starting five for the first time since Jan. 8. He scored 15 points and picked up four steals and four assists in over 33 minutes of action.