Minnesota Timberwolves: First-half player grades for the Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 12: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 12: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Dario Saric
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 11: Wesley Matthews #23 of the Dallas Mavericks and Dario Saric #36 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Dario Saric

  • Has appeared in 29 games and is averaging 23 minutes per contest
  • Averaging 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game
  • Shooting 36.5 percent on 3.6 3-point attempts per game

Along with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, Dario Saric is the third piece of the Wolves core moving forward.

He’s only 24 years old, has two years left on his current contract, and would be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021, although we can fully expect the Wolves to offer him an extension before then. Minnesota will have to do some cap gymnastics, as Andrew Wiggins has a max contract and Dieng has two years and more than $33 million left on his deal after this season.

As for Saric, he’s seen his role decrease in Minnesota from what it had been over the last two-plus seasons in Philadelphia. Because of that, all of his per-game averages are down.

But Saric has played great basketball, helping Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones key the second unit. He’s the most versatile scorer among the reserves, able to score from anywhere on the floor as well as bring the ball up the floor and distribute when called upon. Saric is shooting 36.5 percent on 3-point attempts since joining the Wolves and is an important floor-stretcher off the bench.

Saric has seen a handful of games in which he’s received more minutes than Taj Gibson, the starting power forward, and it certainly seems as though interim head coach Ryan Saunders will be willing to play the matchups when it comes to allocating frontcourt minutes.

Expect Saric’s role to gradually increase as the season goes on. Gibson is a free agent after the season, and as vital as he’s been to the Wolves’ success over the past season and a half, is 33 years old and doesn’t offer the versatility of Saric. And especially if Karl-Anthony Towns recent defensive improvements are for real, the Wolves could afford to take a half-step back defensively in the frontcourt in order to take two steps forward on offense by replacing Gibson’s minutes with Saric.

Saric has been solid in Minnesota so far this season, and Timberwolves fans can rest easy knowing the future of the frontcourt is bright in the Twin Cities.

Grade: B