Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 things to be thankful for this Christmas

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 28: Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 28: Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Derrick Rose
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – NOVEMBER 28: Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

3. Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose has had an unbelievable resurgence this year, and it’s one of the reasons that the Wolves have remained competitive despite all the noise surrounding the season thus far.

Rose, of course, hasn’t been a consistent contributor since before his initial knee injury in 2011. There was the 2016-17 season in New York when Rose averaged 18 points per game, but his defense was atrocious and he wasn’t exactly the picture of efficiency on offense. But then that was followed by his nightmare of a 2017-18 in Cleveland, complete with injuries and an absence from the team.

When the Wolves picked him up at the end of the regular season, he struggled with injuries and poor play in Minnesota, too. But he had a strong five-game stint in the playoffs and was brought back by old friend Tom Thibodeau in the offseason on a veteran’s minimum deal.

So far this season, Rose is certainly in the conversation for at least a couple of awards, including Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player. He’s averaging 18.5 points and 4.6 assists in 29.2 minutes per game and with .485/.469/.842 shooting.

Rose has keyed the Wolves’ bench, which was the league’s worst unit last year but has been potent this season — especially after the addition of Dario Saric to pair with Rose.

The former MVP has been a much better fit than last year’s supposed version of “instant offense”, the departed Jamal Crawford. While Crawford and Rose are both ball dominant, Crawford no longer has enough burst to get past a defender and into the paint. Rose, on the other hand, is able to either get to the elbows and shot a very makeable mid-range jumper or get all the way to the rim.

He’s also taking and making 3-pointers, which was certainly not expected heading into the season based on Rose’s track record.

Rose’s 26.2 percent assist rate is tied for his second-best mark since his initial knee injury, despite mostly playing the two-guard for the Wolves this year, save for nine spot starts. Crawford, by comparison, finished his lone season in Minnesota with an assist rate of just 16.9 percent.

Rose has been a vital part of the Wolves’ (relative) success thus far this year. Here’s hoping that his minutes are managed appropriately and that he remains somewhat healthy for the rest of the season.