Timberpups Tracker: LaVine, Wiggins make early scoring statements

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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 1st 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 21, first season)

Statistical season averages: 21.3 minutes, 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 53.3 FG%, 60.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 17.8 PER, 62.4 TS%, 16.0 USG%, 116 ORtg, 97 DRtg, 0.1 VORP

Notable: With Ricky Rubio out, Dunn’s indoctrination into the NBA likely will be sped up. In Minnesota’s first game without Rubio, Dunn started and played 29:10 with 10 points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds as the Wolves crushed Memphis.

 

Timberpups Tracker archive

TYUS JONES (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages: 19.0 minutes, 2.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 33.3 FG%, 0.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 12.0 PER, 33.3 TS%, 9.5 USG%, 108 ORtg, 102 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: The Rubio injury moved Jones up a slot on the depth chart as well. After not playing in Minnesota’s first two games, Jones played 18:50 in the win over Memphis.

 

ZACH LAVINE (age 21, third season)

Statistical season averages: 33.3 minutes, 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, 52.2 FG%, 50.0 3PT%

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

Notable: As with anyone on this team, we’re talking about just three games, but LaVine scored 19+ points in each contest last week, with a high of 31. His minutes are up (28.0 last season) as well are his shots (15.3 FGA/g this year compared to 11.7 in 2015-16) and rebounds (2.8 average last season).

 

SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD (age 23, fourth season)

Statistical season averages: 14.3 minutes, 6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 37.5 FG%, 0.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 15.1 PER, 49.8 TS%, 21.1 USG%, 117 ORtg, 109 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: It’s been a rough start for Muhammad, who played in just 24 minutes combined in the first two games and has yet to score in double figures.

 

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages: 34.7 minutes, 15.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks, 46.5 FG%, 37.5 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 17.9 PER, 51.0 TS%, 22.6 USG%, 109 ORtg, 101 DRtg, 0.1 VORP

Notable: Towns hasn’t quite gotten off to a start which matches the production from his rookie year, but in the early going his assists and steals are up from last season (2.0 and 0.7, respectively) and his turnovers are down despite averaging more minutes. In Minnesota’s blowout win over Memphis, Town’s +/- was an incredible plus-39.

 

ANDREW WIGGINS (age 21, third season)

Statistical season averages: 33.7 minutes, 23.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.7 blocks, 52.3 FG%, 57.1 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 21.7 PER, 62.1 TS%, 29.2 USG%, 118 ORtg, 108 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: Wiggins shot 50 percent or better from the field in each of the Wolves’ first three games — with 11 field-goal attempts his low — while topping 25 points in his first two games. Wiggins had 17 points against Memphis, but also played a season-low 29:14.

 

(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.)

 

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