The Minnesota Timberwolves opened their season last week with 3 impressive wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, and Miami Heat. To break down their perfect start, let’s look at a few takeaways from the opening week.
Towns Shows MVP Flashes
Karl-Anthony Towns has been a man on a mission so far this season. The Wolves’ star center, who turns just 24 in a couple of weeks, has been putting up outstanding numbers in his first few games. Towns has been averaging 32 PPG, 13.3 RPG and 5 APG while shooting an effective field goal percentage of 64.8% and 51.7% from behind the arc. To put these numbers into perspective, there has actually never been a NBA player to put up 32/13/5 while shooting 51% from 3. Towns has put the Wolves on his back, leading the league in WS (win shares) and VORP (value over replacement player).
In the season-opener against Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, Towns scored 36, had 14 rebounds, and set a new career-high 7 3-point shots made, going 7-11 from 3. Towns’ excellent play has turned the spotlight on him, taking it off some of his teammates who may not be performing at the level that they would like to be.
Wiggins Comes Up Clutch
Wiggins must be a fan. After what I wrote about the small forward last week, Wiggins has since showcased his scoring ability over the last 3 games. So far this season, he has put up a bit more than 20 points per night; a nearly 3 point increase from last season’s numbers.
Wiggins’ level of play has fluctuated throughout this past week’s games. During the first half of play, Wiggins has scored a total of 22 points. However, in the second half, he has put up a total of 36 points including a 16-point 4th quarter against the Miami Heat on October 27th.
Although his shooting percentages have dipped (43.1 FG%, 23.5 3FG%), I expect those numbers increase as the season progresses. Timberwolves fans will live with missed shots as long as he stays productive in the clutch. Currently, Wiggins is ranked 11th in the NBA for 4th-quarter scoring and is relied on towards the end of games to give the Wolves important baskets, although many fans would argue that Towns should be the one taking those shots.
Okogie Might be the Difference
Most second-year players see few to no minutes off the bench for their teams. Josh Okogie is not most second-year players. The 21-year-old out of Georgia Tech has been a key factor of the Wolves success this season. Okogie has posted the highest +/- out of any player in the NBA that has played 3 or more games. He has not only put up more points per game so far than he did last season (11 PPG from 7.7 PPG), Okogie is also playing excellent defense and is often guarding the opposing team’s best guard. A prime example of Okogie’s defensive capabilities was his game-saving defense on Kyrie Irving in the Wolves’ opening night game against the Nets.
If Okogie can continue his excellent defense and continue improving on the offensive end of the floor, there is no reason that All-Star nominations aren’t in his future.
The Timberwolves are set to take the floor again tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers and it will be the first big test against a highly-competitive team.
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