Timberpups Tracker: Jones getting an opportunity

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 2nd edition of the 2016-17 Timberpups Tracker.

Wolves 123, Magic 107

(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 21, first season)

Statistical season averages: 22.3 minutes, 4.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 36.4 FG%, 42.9 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 22.8 minutes, 3.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks, 22.2 FG%, 0.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 10.4 PER, 43.4 TS%, 14.3 USG%, 95 ORtg, 105 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: Dunn is still starting, but the last two games his playing time has lessened to under 20 minutes, during which he has scored a combined two points. Dunn did set a team record, though, in over his first five NBA games. 

 

TYUS JONES (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages: 23.2 minutes, 6.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.0 blocks, 32.1 FG%, 30.8 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 24.2 minutes, 7.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 32.0 FG%, 33.3 3PT%

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Advanced stats, season: 16.0 PER, 48.7 TS%, 14.6 USG%, 114 ORtg, 106 DRtg, 0.1 VORP

Notable: Jones played more than 30 minutes in each of Minnesota’s last two games. Last season, Jones’ season high was just over 26 minutes, which he did twice — both times against Sacramento. Against Brooklyn, Jones had 12 points, five rebounds, seven assists and five steals to become the third-youngest Wolves players to post a 4×5 game (Kevin Garnett has the top-two spots).  

 

ZACH LAVINE (age 21, third season)

Statistical season averages: 34.0 minutes, 20.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks, 46.6 FG%, 48.9 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 34.6 minutes, 18.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.0 blocks, 42.1 FG%, 47.8 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 23.8 PER, 68.6 TS%, 26.1 USG%, 129 ORtg, 106 DRtg, 0.1 VORP

Notable: Entering Thursday’s games, LaVine is tied for sixth in the NBA in 3-point field goals, fifth in 3-point field-goal percentage and 15th in offensive rating.

 

SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD (age 23, fourth season)

Statistical season averages: 17.3 minutes, 8.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, 44.7 FG%, 42.9 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 19.5 minutes, 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.3 blocks, 46.9 FG%, 50.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 15.4 PER, 54.1 TS%, 21.0 USG%, 115 ORtg, 113 DRtg, -0.1 VORP

Notable: Muhammad had an up-and-down week. He had 15 points at Oklahoma City and 13 at Orlando shooting 66.7 percent from the field in both games, but was just 3-for-12 shooting at Brooklyn. He is getting more playing time, though, after seeing just 13:15 of action to open the week vs. Denver.

 

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages: 35.0 minutes, 21.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.1 blocks, 52.2 FG%, 43.5 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 35.3 minutes, 26.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.3 blocks, 55.7 FG%, 46.7 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 25.0 PER, 60.4 TS%, 25.0 USG%, 123 ORtg, 108 DRtg, 0.4 VORP

Notable: Towns had two double-doubles last week (giving him three on the season), topped 30 points twice (he did this just four times last season) and reached 20 points in all four games (tying his longest such streak, which he did once in 2015-16). So, yeah, it was a good week.

 

ANDREW WIGGINS (age 21, third season)

Statistical season averages: 34.4 minutes, 24.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 47.5 FG%, 63.6 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 35.2 minutes, 24.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.3 blocks, 44.9 FG%, 66.7 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 20.3 PER, 57.6 TS%, 29.6 USG%, 113 ORtg, 114 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: Wiggins poured in a career-high 36 points at Brooklyn, making 6 of 7 3-pointers in that game. Wiggins has been shooting more 3-pointers this season (3.1 per game compared to 2.3 per game last season) and he’s making a lot more. A lot. As a rookie, Wiggins made 0.5 3s per game and last season it was 0.6. This season he’s boosted that to 2.0 per game as he leads the NBA in 3-point field-goal percentage.

 

(note: For now we are leaving off Adreian Payne, who turns 26 in February. If he becomes a regular member of the rotation we might then include him.)

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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.

 

Dave Heller is the author of the upcoming book Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow as well as Facing Ted Williams Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns