Checking on the Timberwolves’ progress since the All-Star break

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
4 of 6

Now, not everything has been bad for the Wolves since the All-Star break. Sure, their record shows that they have not been at their best. However, there are two important things to consider. One, Butler’s absence has opened the door for more players to gain some meaningful playing time. Secondly, the team has had some meaningful wins during the stretch.

As for the players, Karl-Anthony Towns has most noticeably been the leader on the court in terms of his play. He is the team’s leading scorer over the past 13 games averaging 23.7 points per game. With that he has been the team’s best 3-point shooter and one of the more efficient scorers from the field.

Not to mention that KAT has continued to be a double-double machine, notching his 60th of the season against the New York Knicks.

Andrew Wiggins has also stepped up in Butler’s absence, averaging 20.6 points per game since the All-Star Game and 18.1 prior. He also has shot a better percentage from the field (46.8 percent to 44.4 percent) and from three (41.1 percent to 33.2 percent). Not to mention how he has also been just as much of a factor attacking the rim as he has been shooting.

More importantly, he has shot better from the free throw line over the past 13 games. Prior to the All-Star break he was connecting on just 64.6 percent of his free throws. Over the past 13 games, Wiggins has cashed in on 69.5 percent.

Better yet, his defensive play has been much better with his increase of effort. His numbers may not show it but Wiggins has been coming alive more often on defense.

However, the real story has been the play of Nemanja Bjelica.

Prior to the All-Star break the 29-year-old Serbian was logging nearly 20 minutes per game. Since filling in for Butler in the starting lineup, Bjelica has averaged just over 34 minutes per game, giving him the opportunity to show his abilities.

He has averaged over 11 points per game for the Wolves since filling in as a starter compared to seven as a reserve. At the same time, he is shooting just as well from all over the court then he was coming off the bench.

Bjelica is also the second leading rebounder on the team since the All-Star break, averaging 7.3 per game. He also has the best defensive rating on the team over the past 13 games at 107.9.

The bench, however, hasn’t changed much except for a slight change in the rotation…