Tyus Jones to get first extended run as Wolves starter

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 19th edition of the 2018-19 Young Wolves Tracker.

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SPOTLIGHT ON …

Point guard Tyus Jones

For the first time in his four-year NBA career, Jones is the guy.

The Minnesota native will likely be in the driver’s seat for the final 11 games of the regular season after fellow point guards Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose were ruled out for the season Thursday.

It’s a significant development for a number of reasons.

First, Jones didn’t get a proper run as the starter until last year, when he started seven consecutive games midseason.

He started just 11 games overall last season, a figure he’s on pace to double this season, assuming he’s healthy down the stretch.

The Wolves have a decision to make on Jones, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

While Minnesota will have the option to match any offer made to Jones, fellow point guard Jeff Teague’s player option for next season complicates matters.

Jones looked sharp against the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, shooting 68.4 percent from the field while scoring 16 then 12 points and chipping in a combined 12 assists.

However, he went 0-for-6 from the field against the Houston Rockets, then went 3-for-14 against the Golden State Warriors, managing 10 points and seven assists.

The advanced metrics tell a more definitive story.

Jones ranks second in the NBA with an assist ratio of 37.9 and leads the league with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 6.54.

And while he ranks just 26th amongst point guards in real plus-minus this season — just behind Ricky Rubio — he was a top-10 performer in that category a year ago.

Jones’ shooting hasn’t improved, but he’s hitting career highs in a number of areas, averaging 5.9 points, 4.2 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 57 games (12 starts).

WOLF TRACKS

— As mentioned, Teague, Rose and forward Robert Covington are out for the rest of the season with a variety of injuries.

Cameron Reynolds is sticking around. The Wolves signed the former Tulane star for the remainder of the season (and possibly beyond) Tuesday after signing him to consecutive 10-day contracts earlier this year.

— Towns continued his late-season surge last week, shooting 50.9 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from deep in consecutive losses to the Jazz, Rockets and Warriors.

— Wiggins continues to struggle with efficiency. He scored 20 points against the Warriors on 19 shots after scoring 14 points on 17 shots each in games against the Rockets and Jazz.

— Rookie Keita Bates-Diop has returned to a reserve role, but continues to play meaningful minutes. He played 26:09 against Utah.