The Timberwolves’ bench has been a pleasant surprise so far this season, and Nemanja Bjelica in particular is one player who deserves to receive more playing time.
Nemanja Bjelica was picked the 35th-overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. After spending the next few years in Europe, he has struggled to make much of an impact over the first two years his NBA career. Through 17 games in the 2017-18 season, however, he is absolutely having his best season of his career to this point.
Bjelica is shooting nearly 53 percent from downtown and it seems as every time he’s wide open for three, you can assume that it’s going in. And not only is he shooting a career best from three, but he is also averaging 7.6 points per game while shooting 59 percent from the field, which are also both career highs.
His impact to Minnesota’s bench can be felt this season, but he is averaging 15.8 minutes per game which is a career low. Tom Thibodeau must give Bjelica more minutes because when he is on the floor good things happen. He leads the wolves in true shooting, effective field goal and 3-point percentage.
Not only is he getting it done on offense, but he’s also getting it done on defense; Bjelica is fifth in defensive rating for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s a player who shoots efficiently, plays defense and knocks down the three-ball with high frequency.
There aren’t many players in the NBA who can contribute the way that Bjelica does. The energy he brings off the bench is unmatchable and when you see him in the game, you know the Wolves will benefit.
Given all of the above numbers and statistics, there is absolutely no reason Bjelica should be seeing a career low in minutes. I mean, he leads the entire NBA in three point percentage.
The ability to have a big man who can stretch out the floor is something that many teams in the NBA value. Not only is it good because you have another shooter on the floor, but it also opens up the offense in many other ways.
With Bjelica on the floor, it gives the Wolves floor spacing that they don’t have with any other big on their team. This floor spacing gives Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins room to slash and go to work inside the arc in a variety of ways.
The Wolves may not have the most talented bench in the NBA, but Nemanja Bjelica is a talented and skilled big man with unlimited ranged who has earned himself minutes in the rotation.
Tom Thibodeau must figure out a way to get Bjelica more minutes for the Timberwolves to be successful moving forward.