Timberpups Tracker: Jan. 7 edition

BY Dave Heller • January 7, 2016

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 eighth edition of the 2015-16 Timberpups Tracker, covering Dec. 31-Jan. 6.

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 (last week): 20.1 points (16.8), 3.8 rebounds (3.8), 1.7 assists (1.3), 0.8 steals (1.8), 0.6 blocks (0.8), 34.7 minutes (31.5), 42.9 FG% (39.0), 23.2 3PT% (14.3)

Advanced stats, season: 15.1 PER, .508 TS%, 28.6 USG%, 99 ORtg, 110 DRtg, -0.4 VORP

Notable: Wiggins' scoring took a dip in each game last week -- from 21 to 19 to 16 to 11. He also had rough week shooting. Perhaps he is trying to put too much on his shoulders.

ZACH LAVINE (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages (last week): 13.1 points (4.3), 3.0 rebounds (2.0), 3.2 assists (2.3), 0.6 steals (0.8), 0.1 blocks (0.0), 23.9 minutes (20.3), 41.4 FG% (23.3), 30.7 3PT% (0.0)

Advanced stats, season: 14.4 PER, .503 TS%, 28.1 USG%, 98 ORtg, 109 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: Safe to say LaVine is in a sophomore slump. He scored just 17 points in four games last week. Yes, that's combined. Not much has been going right lately and LaVine's playing time has accordingly decreased as he played in fewer than 18 minutes in each of Minnesota's last two games.

ADREIAN PAYNE (age 24, second season)

Statistical season averages (last week): 2.8 points (0.0), 2.2 rebounds (0.0), 0.5 assists (0.5), 0.3 steals (0.0), 0.3 blocks (0.5), 9.6 minutes (6.0), 41.4 FG% (0.0), 44.4 3PT% (0.0)

Advanced stats, season: 7.5 PER, .490 TS%, 16.0 USG%, 87 ORtg, 104 DRtg, -0.1 VORP

Notable: After playing double-digit minutes in three straight games the previous week, Payne went back to being sparingly used. He didn't play in two games (DNP-CDs vs. Detroit and Denver) and totaled roughly 12 minutes in the other two.

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (age 20, first season)

Statistical season averages (last week): 15.9 points (13.0), 9.5 rebounds (9.8), 1.1 assists (2.0), 0.6 steals (0.3), 1.9 blocks (1.5), 28.9 minutes (29.5), 52.4 FG% (42.9), 34.5 3PT% (0.0)

Advanced stats, season: 21.6 PER, .575 TS%, 24.3 USG%, 109 ORtg, 101 DRtg, 1.0 VORP

Notable: One issue often with rookies is inconsistency, and the Timberwolves got a full dose of that with Towns last week. While he put up 22 points and nine rebounds at Detroit, he had only eight points and four rebounds against Philadelphia. That surely can confound, but then again, even on an off scoring nights, he can post 10 rebounds and three blocks, like he did against Milwuakee.

NEMANJA BJELICA (age 27, first season)

Statistical season averages (last week): 4.6 points (4.3), 3.7 rebounds (2.0), 1.4 assists (1.3), 0.3 steals (0.0), 0.4 blocks (0.0), 18.7 minutes (18.0), 42.4 FG% (50.0), 33.8 3PT% (50.0)

Advanced stats, season: 9.5 PER, .535 TS%, 11.7 USG%, 108 ORtg, 107 DRtg, 0.3 VORP

Notable: How's this for inconsistent: Bjelica had two games of over20 minutes last week, but just under eight in another and did not play in Minnesota's last game vs. Denver. Bjelica came over with a reputation as a shooter, but he attempted just 10 shots -- and four 3s.

TYUS JONES (age 19, first season)

Statistical season averages (last week): 3.0 points (4.3), 1.7 rebounds (3.0), 1.6 assists (2.0), 0.4 steals (0.0), 0.1 blocks (0.0), 10.9 minutes (9.7), 35.5 FG% (41.7), 50.0 3PT% (1.000)

Advanced stats, season: 8.4 PER, .407 TS%, 18.8 USG%, 83 ORtg, 106 DRtg, -0.1 VORP

Notable: After seeing decent playing time -- double-digit minutes in six straight games -- Jones barely played against the 76ers and never got off the bench vs. the Nuggets. It will be interesting to see the plan for Jones in upcoming weeks.

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