Timberpups Tracker: 'Tis the season of giving for LaVine

BY Dave Heller • December 16, 2016

The Minnesota Timberwolves have one of the most exciting collections of young players on an NBA roster with nearly half of their players 25 or younger. Every Thursday, FOX Sports North tracks the progress of those young Timberwolves.

This is the 6th edition of the 2016-17 Timberpups Tracker.

(A glossary of the advanced statistics used for season totals, which are from basketball-reference.com. can be found at the end of this article)

KRIS DUNN (age 21, first season)

Statistical season averages: 17.5 minutes, 4.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks, 39.6 FG%, 30.0 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 17.0 minutes, 4.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, 40.9 FG%, 0.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 9.4 PER, 46.3 TS%, 14.9 USG%, 94 ORtg, 109 DRtg, 0.0 VORP

Notable: On the plus side, Dunn tied a season high with five rebounds against Detroit on Dec. 9 and had two games without a turnover, which he has now done five times on the season. However, he had only one steal in four games and went another week without scoring in double figures (which he has done only twice thus far).

 

TYUS JONES (age 20, second season)

Statistical season averages: 12.2 minutes, 3.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.0 blocks, 42.6 FG%, 43.5 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 1.9 minutes, 1.7 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 50.0 FG%, 50.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 16.5 PER, 59.7 TS%, 14.1 USG%, 121 ORtg, 111 DRtg, 0.1 VORP

Notable: After three straight DNPs, Jones played in three consecutive games from Dec. 8-11 -- however, he totaled only 5:45 of playing time in those contests, and that includes a stint of 4:45 vs. Detroit.

 

ZACH LAVINE (age 21, third season)

Statistical season averages: 37.7 minutes, 20.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 47.2 FG%, 37.3 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 39.9 minutes, 23.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, 52.2 FG%, 37.5 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 16.6 PER, 58.4 TS%, 22.5 USG%, 116 ORtg, 116 DRtg, 0.5 VORP

Notable: LaVine had 24 or more points in three of Minnesota's four games this past week, accounting for one-third his total of 24+-point games this season. Perhaps most notable, he had two six-assist games and another with five -- he's only had one better game, when he had eight assists vs. Utah on Nov. 28. LaVine also had a four-assist game this past week, which he had done just two other times.

 

SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD (age 24, fourth season)

Statistical season averages: 16.4 minutes, 6.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.1 blocks, 43.7 FG%, 22.7 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 21.9 minutes, 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 44.4 FG%, 25.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 11.7 PER, 52.4 TS%, 19.7 USG%, 107 ORtg, 114 DRtg, -0.3 VORP

Notable: Seemingly buried in the doghouse since mid-November, Muhammad saw extended playing time this past week, including a season-high 25:24 in the win over Charlotte. Muhammad made 11 of 21 shots and scored 26 points in games against the Knicks and Hornets, but vs. Sacramento he dipped to 1-of-6 shooting and two points. Still, he had three of his four highest amounts of playing time of the season this past week.

 

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (age 21, second season)

Statistical season averages: 34.9 minutes, 22.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.5 blocks, 47.3 FG%, 37.8 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 33.9 minutes, 19.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.0 blocks, 32.1 FG%, 40.0 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 22.8 PER, 55.6 TS%, 27.4 USG%, 113 ORtg, 108 DRtg, 0.9 VORP

Notable: To say Towns struggled with his shot last week might be an understatement, but he did make 18 of 19 free-throw attmepts (94.7 percent). Towns has gotten his rebounding average into double figures, meaning he could become just the fourth player in franchise history to average 20+ points and 10+ rebounds in a season, joining Kevin Garnett (9 times), Al Jefferson (2 times) and Kevin Love (3 times).

 

ANDREW WIGGINS (age 21, third season)

Statistical season averages: 36.6 minutes, 22.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks, 43.2 FG%, 38.3 3PT%

Statistical averages, last week: 37.1 minutes, 19.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, 47.8 FG%, 18.2 3PT%

Advanced stats, season: 15.2 PER, 53.2 TS%, 28.2 USG%, 104 ORtg, 114 DRtg, -0.3 VORP

Notable: Wiggins' hot start hitting 3s has definitely cooled; he's made just 21.6 percent of his attempts in the last 10 games. He had 29 points in the win over Charlotte, already the seventh time he's had 29 or more points in a game this season. Last season he did it 10 times.

 

(note: For now we are leaving off Adreian Payne, who turns 26 in February. If he becomes a regular member of the rotation we might then include him.)

 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

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.

 

Dave Heller is the author of the upcoming book Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth's Shadow as well as Facing Ted Williams Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns



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