Towns takes another step forward in 3rd season
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 final edition of the 2017-18 Timberpups Tracker.
SPOTLIGHT ON …
KAT was composed in the locker room after helping the Wolves to their first playoff berth since 2004. He expects the real emotions to come later.
“I’ll probably fall asleep tonight, wake up in the middle of the night and start crying, because it’ll hit me, what happened,” he said.
Minnesota snapped the league’s longest playoff drought Wednesday — 13 years, 10 months and 11 days after the Wolves’ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — and the third-year big man did his part. Towns was electric Wednesday night in the Wolves’ playoff-clinching win over the Denver Nuggets, scoring 26 points with 14 rebounds while going 12-for-19 from the field in a whopping 47 minutes of action.
It was an exclamation point at the end of a strong regular season for Towns, now in his third year, who handled the arrival of another superstar, fellow All-Star Jimmy Butler, successfully.
After leading the Wolves in scoring last season Towns split those duties with Butler, averaging 21.5 points per game, down from 25.1 during his sophomore campaign.
His usage percentage went from 27.9 percent down to a career-low 22.9 percent — behind Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Jamal Crawford — even as his 3-point shooting and overall field-goal percentages improved. Defense remained an issue, but his 107 defensive rating (via basketball-reference) was enough to lead all Wolves regulars.
However, when the Wolves needed him, Towns’ elevated.
Towns took his game to another level after Jimmy Butler went down, averaging 25.2 points per game and shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range.
He finished the season with four straight double-doubles and finally took over as the league’s double-doubles leader after flirting with the title for two years, finishing with 68, six more than second-place Andre Drummond.
— Andrew Wiggins’ numbers were down across the board in his fourth season. He averaged 17.7 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting, down from 23.6 points per game a year ago.
— Tyus Jones appeared in an 82 games for the first time and averaged a career-high 17.9 minutes per game.
— Justin Patton, the Wolves’ first-round pick last season, finally made his NBA debut, logging just under four minutes of action in a loss to the Utah Jazz on April 1.
— Second-year shooting guard Marcus Georges-Hunt made 42 appearances, but was largely out of the Wolves’ rotation by the end of the season.
— Undrafted rookie Amile Jefferson has yet to see an NBA action but will be eligible for the playoffs after having his contracted converted to a standard deal. He averaged 17.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per game for the Wolves’ G League affiliate.