Timberpups Tracker: Dec. 24 edition

BY foxsports • December 24, 2015

The Minnesota Timberwolves have one of the most exciting collections of young players on an NBA roster. Every Thursday, FOX Sports North tracks the progress of those on the Timberwolves who are in their first or second season in the league.

This is the sixth edition of the 2015-16 Timberpups Tracker.

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.

ANDREW WIGGINS (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages (week): 20.9 points (21.0), 3.6 rebounds (4.0), 1.7 assists (2.5), 0.64 blocks (0.25), 0.57 steals (0.25), 34.7 minutes (33.3), 43.3 FG% (45.8), 25.0 3PT% (20.0).

Advanced stats, season: 16.1 PER, 52.1 percent TS%, 28.6 percent USG%, 102 ORtg, 110 DRtg, -0.2 VORP.

Notable: With every passing game, Wiggins seems to more and more carry himself with the self-assuredness of a superstar. And, these days, his quiet confidence seems warranted. Look at his all-around performance in last Friday's four-point win over Sacramento, for example. On that night, Wiggins filled the stat sheet for 32 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Wiggins had a recent 10-game stretch in which he shot 45.5 percent from the field. His growth continues to fascinate, and the 20-year-old's smooth transition to shooting guard has the Wolves' coaching staff undoubtedly encouraged.

ZACH LAVINE (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages: 14.8 points (13.0), 3.4 rebounds (2.8), 3.4 assists (2.5), 0.1 blocks (0.0), 0.59 steals (0.75), 24.7 minutes (22.5), 43.8 FG% (47.8), 33.3 3PT% (11.1).

Advanced stats, season: 17.4 PER, 53.1 percent TS%, 28.8 percent USG%, 102 ORtg, 109 DRtg, 0.4 VORP.

Notable: LaVine's shooting has cooled off a bit of late -- he shot 40.0 percent Sunday against Brooklyn, for example -- but his game has largely continued to grow in his second professional season. The 20-year-old UCLA product seems to value the basketball more this season, judging by his reduced amount of turnovers, and his rebounding is also slightly on an uptick. Now the Wolves simply need to find the right combination of backcourt teammates to pair LaVine with for the foreseeable future. Could a trade of veteran guard Kevin Martin help clarify Minnesota's backcourt outlook?

ADREIAN PAYNE (age 24, second season)

Statistical season averages: 2.7 points (0.0), 2.5 rebounds (2.3), 0.5 assists (0.5), 0.19 blocks (0.5), 0.24 steals (0.25), 9.8 minutes (10.0), 41.8 FG% (0.0), 41.7 3PT% (0.0).

Advanced stats, season: 6.7 PER, 48.7 percent TS%, 16.2 percent USG%, 86 ORtg, 105 DRtg, -0.1 VORP.

Notable: Payne's minutes remain limited these days, for the most part. The former Michigan State power forward got a slightly more extended look Sunday in Brooklyn, though. In 17 minutes, the 24-year-old produced zero points on 0-for-3 shooting but added seven rebounds and one blocked shot. This season, patience will be a virtue for Payne.

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (age 20, first season)

Statistical season averages: 15.9 points (18.5), 9.4 rebounds (11.3), 1.0 assists (1.0), 2.0 blocks (1.5), 0.66 steals (0.5), 28.3 minutes (30.3), 53.0 FG% (50.0), 40.0 3PT% (25.0).

Advanced stats, season: 22.4 PER, 58.6 percent TS%, 24.4 percent USG%, 109 ORtg, 101 DRtg, 0.8 VORP.

Notable: After a slight lull a couple weeks ago, this big man's play has picked up recently. Towns tormented the Celtics on Monday, registering 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting while adding 16 rebounds and three blocks. The former Kentucky Wildcat is essentially good for a double-double every other night out. Production like that will garner Towns serious Rookie of the Year consideration. Right now, watching Towns operate is like watching former San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson back in 1990; greatness appears to be right around the corner.

Advanced stats, season: 9.7 PER, 53.1 percent TS%, 11.9 percent USG%, 108 ORtg, 107 DRtg, 0.3 VORP.

Notable: Remember the old cartoon sound effect of an anvil slowly-but-surely plummeting back to Earth? That basically sums up Bjelica's experience in the month of December. Since scoring nine points against the Clippers on Dec. 7, the native of Yugoslavia has done almost nothing of note. He played a combined seven minutes in two games last weekend, for example, and scored zero points. The 27-year-old former Euroleague MVP has a fairly proven track record as a 3-point shooter, so perhaps that will evolve into his niche area for Minnesota as this season rolls on. The Wolves can only hope.

TYUS JONES (age 19, first season)

Statistical season averages (week): 2.3 points (6.0), 0.7 rebounds (1.0), 1.0 assists (2.0), 0.0 blocks (0.0), 1.0 steals (2.0), 11.3 minutes (20.0), 25.0 FG% (42.9), 0.0 3PT% (0.0).

Advanced stats, season: 4.1 PER, 27.2 percent TS%, 18.2 percent USG%, 65 ORtg, 104 DRtg, 0.0 VORP.

Notable: Jones was sent to Idaho of the D-League recently, but he's back with the Wolves now, for the moment. At least the point guard made the most of his time in Idaho, displaying a solid all-around game. In six games in the D-League, Jones averaged 24.7 points, 5.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds per outing. If the Wolves part ways with veteran Kevin Martin, perhaps it'll free up some spot minutes for Jones, who played Wednesday -- his first NBA game since Nov. 12 -- and saw nearly 20 minutes of action.

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