KAT's Wolves rise continues in Year 4
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 22nd and final edition of the 2018-19 Young Wolves Tracker.
Spotlight on …
Center Karl-Anthony Towns
For all the drama that characterized the first few months of the season -- Jimmy Butler left, Tom Thibodeau was forced to, etc. -- Towns' ascent is officially back on.
With interim head coach Ryan Saunders' strategic support, Towns is back to looking like a franchise player.
He averaged 24.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks on the season, while shooting 51.8% from the field and 40% from deep.
Year 4 KAT was impossible to guard at times, averaging a second straight 50/40 season, a line that could become a historic 50/40/90 with a little more consistency at the line.
At this rate, that seems awfully possible.
In true "unicorn" fashion, Towns is the first player ever to average 12-plus rebounds, four-plus 3-point tries and a 3-point percentage of 40% or better.
KAT was at his best when the Wolves were theoretically still in the hunt.
He had a 71.5 true shooting percentage in February, averaging 30.9 points per game, and went on a monster run that carried the Wolves into March: 42, 28, 41, 24 and 40 points on 57.1% shooting.
He averaged 6.4 3-point tries per game over that span, shooting 46.9 percent from deep.
Now a two-time All-Star, Towns' future is bright once again.
-- Tyus Jones made a little history, breaking Terrell Brandon's single-season record for assist/turnover ratio. Jones averaged 6.96 turnovers for every turnover in 68 games this season. This was a pivotal season for Jones, a restricted free agent this summer, and he got his shot, starting the final 15 games of the season with Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose shut down.
-- Thibodeau's parting gift to the Wolves was a seemingly successful draft. Josh Okogie stepped up when fellow forward Robert Covington went down, starting 52 games and showing flashes of major potential.
-- Keita Bates-Diop, the Wolves' second-round pick, has looked good in limited action. He joined the Wolves' rotation full time in March after starting the season in the G League, averaging 21.4 minutes per game during the final month of the season.
-- Rose missed the final 15 games of the season, but 2019 was a largely successfully return to form for the one-time star. A questionable signing following his failed stint in Cleveland, Rose averaged 18 points per game on 48.2% shooting in his age-30 season. He went off for 50 points in a win over the Utah Jazz in October, one of the high points of the season.
-- Newcomer Dario Saric, acquired in the Butler deal, emerged as a solid piece of the Wolves' rotation, starting 28 games in 68 appearances.
-- Andrew Wiggins numbers declined in Year 5, most notably his shooting. Wiggins had an effective field-goal percentage of 46.1, his worst since his rookie year, and a true shooting percentage of 49.3, his worst as a pro.