Wolves rookie Okogie playing major minutes
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 pass along some notable intel on the rest of the Wolves’ young players.
This is the 1st edition of the 2018-19 Young Wolves Tracker.
SPOTLIGHT ON …
Shooting guard Josh Okogie
Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t exactly friendly towards rookies.
At least, not when it comes to giving them significant minutes.
Or any minutes.
Justin Patton, Thibodeau’s first-round pick in 2017, appeared in just one game as a rookie, playing four minutes.
Even Kris Dunn, Thibodeau’s hand-picked point guard, started just seven of his 78 appearances as a rookie during the 2016-17 season, averaging 17.1 minutes per game, level with March signing Omri Casspi.
Okogie, who turned 20 in September, has thus far been the exception to the rule.
After sitting for a season-opening loss to the Spurs and a win over the Cavaliers, Okogie has been a consistent presence in the Wolves’ lineup, averaging 29.3 minutes per night.
He’s passed the 30-minute threshold in each of the last two games, and played nearly 37 minutes in the Wolves’ wild Halloween win over the Utah Jazz.
He’s earning those minutes, and then some.
Okogie scored a career-high 17 points in the Wolves’ 124-120 win over the Lakers on Monday, adding four rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
That line doesn’t quite do his performance justice.
Consider this sequence from the third quarter.
Dude. I'm more impressed by Josh Okogie each minute. The effort of this kid. pic.twitter.com/QR738KggBc
— Kyle Ratke (@Kyle_Ratke) October 30, 2018
Okogie gets past a screen, disrupts Brandon Ingram’s shot and hustles back down the court in time to turn a quick pass from Karl-Anthony Towns into a dunk.
It’s worth noting that Ingram, the second overall pick in 2016, is officially five inches taller than Okogie, the 20th pick in 2018.
He’s been a defensive playmaker on a squad notorious for its struggles in that area, and has a 2.7 steal percentage and 1.8 block percentage so far.
Maintained over the course of a full season, those numbers would put him in rare company.
— Towns hasn’t looked like himself at times, but he turned it on in back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Jazz. Towns had 25 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and a steal while going 8-for-8 at the line against the Lakers. He scored 28 points against the Jazz with 16 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
— Andrew Wiggins wasn’t particularly efficient after missing three games with a quad injury, scoring 19 points on 17 shots against the Jazz, but went 3-for-5 from 3-point range, a season high.
— Tyus Jones missed Wednesday’s game against the Jazz with a foot injury and is questionable for the Wolves’ game at Golden State on Friday.
— The Wolves have two players on two-way contracts with the Iowa Wolves, their G League affiliate: 23-year-old guard Jared Terrell and 28-year-old guard C.J. Williams, who has played three games for Minnesota. The G League season begins Friday.