Timberwolves rookie Okogie still working on 3-point shot

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t exactly Timberpups anymore. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are well into their NBA careers at this point, while the Wolves’ lineup features seven players with 5-plus years of experience.

Welcome to the 2018-19 edition of the Young Wolves Tracker, formerly the Timberpups Tracker.

Each Thursday we’ll either track the progress of the Iowa Wolves players who might be of help to the Timberwolves in the future, or a current member of Minnesota’s roster. We’ll also give updates on the other young players from the previous week.

This is the 11th edition of the 2018-19 Young Wolves Tracker.

 

SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward Josh Okogie

Okogie has electrified Target Center all season with dunks, dunks and more dunks.

But lately, his 3-point shot has been a factor — for better or worse.

Last week, we saw the 20-year-old rookie clinch a win at Oklahoma City with a late 3-point make that pushed Minnesota’s advantage to a two-possession lead with 26.8 seconds to play. He missed his previous four attempts from deep in that game but sunk the 3 when it mattered.

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Okogie brought that confidence into his next game — a 119-115 loss to Dallas on Friday. On a night that Minnesota struggled as a team from the field, Okogie drained a career-best four 3-pointers on six attempts, good for his fourth career contest with multiple 3s.

Unfortunately, Okogie followed up his best night from deep with, well, his worst. He went 1 of 8 from 3-point range in a win over New Orleans, although that didn’t stop the rookie from tying a career high with 17 points.

In the four games Ryan Saunders has served as interim head coach, Okogie has attempted 5.5 shots from the perimeter, compared to 2.4 attempts per game under former coach Tom Thibodeau.

His 26 3-point makes on the season ranks 12th among rookies, although a dismal 26 percent clip from deep has held back that total. Among players with 100+ attempts from 3, only Denver’s Trey Lyles (24.8) and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (22.8) have a lower shooting percentage.

But Okogie has showed he can knock it down consistently, as he nailed 38.2 percent of his 3s at Georgia Tech. Maybe confidence shown from Saunders can help Okogie get find his collegiate stroke again — just like he showed against Dallas.

After all, the best way to get out of a slump is to keep shooting.

WOLF TRACKS

— Tyus Jones exited Tuesday’s ugly loss in Philadelphia with what was originally thought to be a high ankle sprain. But it was reported Wednesday that it was not a sprain. Jones will be in a walking boot for a few days, and he’ll be listed as day-to-day after that.

— Since Wiggins’ 40-point game in Oklahoma City on Jan. 11, he’s averaged 15.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 34.6 percent from the field.

— With a big performance against Dallas on Friday, Towns became the fourth player this century to tally 27+ points and 27+ rebounds in a single game, joining Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond and Kevin Love.

— Second-round pick Keita Bates-Diop played seven minutes in Philadelphia, going 0-for-1 from the field and grabbing one rebound. It was his first NBA action since Nov. 4 and his third career game.

— Minnesota waived James Nunnally earlier this month, and he signed a 10-day contract with Houston. Nunnally appeared in just 13 games for the Wolves and played over six minutes just once, shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range, which was his specialty overseas. But on Wednesday night in Houston, Nunnally played 24 minutes for the Rockets and drained 3 of 7 attempts from downtown for nine points, matching his season high with the Timberwolves.