The Timberwolves now have 5 players in the NBA’s Covid protocols (Anthony Edwards, Josh Okogie, Taurine Prince, Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt). The wolves have 9 roster players that are healthy, and that can play (does not include our 2-way guys McKinley Wright IV and Nathan Knight who just got called up).
With many notable players out the wolves need someone to step up, but who will that be? We know Kat and Dlo will play their big roles, and maybe a career game between one of them could save the day, but you can’t win a basketball game with just two guys doing their jobs. It’s more complex than that.
The Wolves play two more games before a nice 3 full day break during Christmas week. Tomorrow they play the Mavericks, who are dealing with more injuries and health issues than the wolves. And then we face off against the healthy Jazz.
Who will step up?
There’s multiple players on the roster that are available and are capable of stepping up. It’s believed that Jaylen Nowell will start In tomorrows game due to Beverley being out, and he’s been really good as of late. Over his last 2 games, Nowell has been putting up 15.0 PPG, along with really good 3PT efficiency (66.6%). It took a while for Finch to play the young guard after an impressive summer league, and a good end to the season last year. But Finch found himself using Nowell in a big Lakers PRIMETIME game, and last night. Nowell could very well be the wolves 3rd best player on the court Tuesday night.
Malik Beasley is someone who definitely could step up also. His last 2 starts have been overwhelmingly bad, as he’s been starting in place of Anthony Edwards. Beasley is averaging 15PPG on 33% shooting over his last 2 games. His shot has been off, but that doesn’t mean he can’t find it for a few games. Beasley has so much potential when it comes to scoring, he just needs his shot back. Beasley was the guy for the wolves for a lot of the 20-21 season, putting up 19.6PPG on 39.9% from 3. But this year he’s been a lot different. Beasley is getting lots of opportunity right now to improve, and maybe that can start tomorrow night.
A few other sleeper options are Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid. Jaden had a pretty good offensive night yesterday against the Mavs, putting up 12 points off the bench on 5/8 shooting. He’s another guy who can make threes, and sometimes become a driver. We know Jaden can carry a load on defense, but sometimes there’s a question mark in his offense. No doubt the wolves will look for Jaden to have another good offensive performance on Tuesday and Thursday. Naz Reid is always going to be a great rotational big, but it would be nice to see him have his best game coming up. The Mavericks run a lot of slow big man lineups, this allows the wolves to use both Kat and Naz on the same line. This means Naz plays more, so with the extra playing time I hope to see him step up more.