9/19/2017 0 Comments
By: OTP Staff
This is the second piece in a series of articles that will look at each individual position on the Minnesota Timberwolves roster heading into the 2017-18 season. Today we feature the shooting guards, headlined by Andrew Wiggins and Crawford.
In the transcript below, On The Prowl writers Dan Slaubaugh, Zach More, Jonah Sprinkel, Cal Colbert, and Louie Vicchiollo discuss what Andrew Wiggins needs to do to take the next step in his NBA career, converse about Jamal Crawford's role in Minnesota this season, and touch on few players who will be competing for a roster spot. This conversation has been lightly edited.
Dan: Going to be a fun year for Maple Jordan! (Maybe I should stop calling him that).
Jonah: I’m going to ask two very tall tasks of Wiggins this year. 1. Play consistent defense. 2. Shoot the ball more efficiently. That’s it. Do that and the Wolves are a top 5 team.
Cal: If I'm going to ask Wiggins to do two things. I would ask him to sign the extension already, and I would really like to see him rebound the ball more consistently. We all know Wiggins is super athletic, so I know he can rebound. He just needs to hustle and actually do it.
Zach: Butler is going to be great for Wiggins. He will lead by example and show Wiggins to be a star he will need to be a 2 way player. He will also make things easier on Wiggins by guarding the best player on the opponent’s team and also on most nights having the opponent’s best defender guarding him. This will give Wiggins hopefully the better match-up on offense and easier task to improve his defense.
Louie: Honestly, it is easy to see what wiggins brings to the table on offense, but I agree, all I want from him this year is defense. We all saw that 538 stat that he barely affects shots when he is on defense. Jimmy should help him with this tremendously.
Zach: Wiggins had a stretch last year where he was very good from behind the arc. His shot form looked a lot better and he did end up shooting 35.6% from 3 last year after just 30% the previou year. His form looked much better and he seemed to be more confident. He needs to keep improving on that shot, and become a catch and shoot threat. I think we will see another increase in his percentage this year. I would also like to see his attempts increase as well.
Dan: The roster is so much more set for Wiggins to be successful now. Minus the fastbreak buckets Ricky got him, the offense now is more conductive for him. Teams can no longer double him and prevent him from getting to “his spots” on the court.
Jonah: How much of a scoring load do you guys expect Wiggins to carry? For as much as he ran iso plays last year he wound up in the bottom third of the league in terms of efficiency.
Dan: For one, I don’t think Wiggins will be daunted with the task of closing out games for the Wolves. That’s now in Jimmy Butler’s hands, which takes a lot of pressure off the fourth-year guard. Now, Wiggins will need to utilize his athletic ability in the slashing game and, like you said Jonah, shoot the ball more efficiently. If he can do that, we’ll have a better third-fiddle than 95% of the league.
Dan: Wiggins is coming off a season where he averaged a team-best 23.6 points per game to go along with 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists. With the arrival of Jimmy Butler, what are your expectations for Wiggins in 2017-18?
Zach: It’s so hard to predict stats with how different this team will look. I think his points will stay about the same but efficiency will go up. Rebounds right around 5 or just a bit below. Assists should increase with better options around him.
Dan: JAMAL CRAWFORD WELCOME TO MINNESOTA
Jonah: I think it’s safe to say that Crawford brings both some positives and negatives to this team. I’m mostly concerned with his streaky shooting and lack of defense. The flip side to that is the Wolves haven’t had a bench scorer like this in a long time.
Dan: Yep. My evaluation of the signing was A+ off the court, C on the court. Jamal didn’t shoot very well last season, so that will be one thing to keep an eye on.
Louie: I agree with you Dan; he is going to be an amazing player to have in the locker room, with loads of experience, but as far as the on court skills go, everyone knows he is past his prime. Last year he had shooting splits of 41.3/36.0/85.7 FG/3P/FT which isn’t horrible, but for the type of “vacuum” player he is, team efficiency declines mightily when he is on the court. Regardless, he has the ability to provide the crowd with one or two plays a game that will make them pick their jaws up off the floor.
Zach: Love the signing for the mentor part and the off the court stuff. Crawford can still score the ball but he did not have a good season last year. It’s up to Thibs to put him in a role that benefits him and the team. I am curious to see how him and Bazz will coexist together.
Dan: Good points, Zach. While I’m curious to see how he and Bazz coexist, I’m also curious to see how much ball-handling duty Thibs gives Crawford. Will he share ball-handling duties with Tyus in the second unit or play off-ball most of the time? For a player so used to having the ball in his hands, he is going to have to adjust if Tyus gets warranted minutes at backup point guard.
Zach: Thibs is going to have to be careful with his minutes to make him successful. Crawford has said that he struggled last year because he wasn’t comfortable or happy with the way Doc was using him. Crawford will have to be able to be above average at catch and shoot 3’s as well for that second unit to be successful.
Louie: I’m glad you brought up ball handling responsibilities Dan, people forget when Jamal came into the league in 2000 he played 77% of his minutes at the PG position compared to the 1% he played there last year (70% at SF, 26% at SG).
Dan: If I remember correctly, Jonah has deemed Crawford the “four-point play godfather”. That being said, I’m setting the over/under for four-point plays at 4.5 for Crawford this season. Are you taking the over or under?
Jonah: I think I’ll take the under. Last year Crawford had a usage percentage of 22.7. It’s hard to imagine a world where he logs anything close to that.
Louie: I’ll also take the under. He made 3 last year, and I think he will finish with 3 or 4 this year.
Dan: So what are your expectations out of Jamal Crawford this season? What does he need to do to give Thibs a reliable bench piece?
Jonah: He needs to shoot at least 44 percent from the field. As long as he’s a little smarter about what kind of shots he takes I think he’ll be fine. Last year 12.5 percent of his shots came from the three to 10 foot range. He shot 38.5 percent on those shots. From everywhere else inside the arc he was above 43 percent.
Louie: I expect him to play around 22 minutes a night, 75+ games, and hit two threes a game off the bench. I think that is very realistic for him to do on offense. When it comes to defense, I expect him to not be a total liability, and that is all. He has never had a positive Defensive Box Plus Minus in his career, so anything close to zero this year will make me happy.
Zach: It’s not a very in depth effort but he needs to be a net positive player. Needs to be an efficient scorer with a low number of turnovers. Has to make it so teams don’t go on the big runs vs our 2nd unit because we go on scoring droughts.
Marcus Georges-Hunt and Anthony Brown
Dan: I’m going to pair these guys together simply because I don’t know a ton about them. What I do know, however, is that they deserve to be on a roster.
Jonah: If I’m being 100 percent honest here, I couldn’t pick either of these guys out if they were standing next to Glen Taylor.
Dan: Lol. So here’s the gist on Hunt: He was waived by the Magic in late July after signing a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal with the team in early April. He was a long shot to make the roster and played in just five NBA games with the Magic, totaling 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one steal in 48 minutes. He spent a significant chunk of time in the G-League, however, appearing in 45 contests. In those outings, he averaged 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while hitting 39.0 percent of his shots from deep.
Louie: Yeah, what Dan said.
Zach: Anthony Brown, who signed a two-way contract with the Wolves in July, is a shooter. In the D-League last year (now known as the G-League) he attempted 14.8 shots a game with 5.1 of those attempts being from 3. He shot an amazing 46.7% from behind the arc. This is one of those signing that has little to no downside but a ton of upside. Wolves will need to try to get shooting from anywhere they can find it. He is 6’7” and 211 lbs so he has good size for a guard.
Dan: It will be interesting to see if the Wolves can develop the 24-year-old shooting guard/small forward into an NBA-level perimeter threat, as their current team doesn't have any true three-point marksmen.