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, Tyus Jones
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 02: Tyus Jones #1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Tyus Jones

  • Has averaged 5.5 points and four assists in 20.5 minutes per game
  • Steal rate of 3.0 percent is second on the team next to Covington

Tyus Jones has long been a fan-favorite in Minnesota. He is, after all, a Minnesota native and was high school basketball star.

He’s also been one of the top backup point guards in the league over the past two-plus seasons and has flashed tantalizing potential any time he’s been asked to step in and play more minutes due to injuries to the starter in front of him.

Jones had his best year yet in 2017-18, his third in the league. He shot 34.9 percent on 3-point attempts and was primarily a spot-up shooter in an offense ran through Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins. Jones was also the Wolves’ best defender this side of Butler and possibly Taj Gibson.

Jones reportedly considered requesting a trade late in the offseason as issues with the rotation, Jimmy Butler, and Tom Thibodeau persisted, but ultimately chose against it. Jones struggled to start the season, playing his most inconsistent basketball since his rookie year.

But lately, Jones has turned things on and has played dynamically on both ends of the floor. His relationship with Ryan Saunders goes back several years, as well, and it’s fair to assume that working with his new head coach will only serve to boost his performance for the balance of the season.

Interestingly, 93.3 percent of Jones’ made baskets during the 2017-18 season were assisted, meaning that he rarely generated his own offense and didn’t shoot the ball off the dribble. This year, his usage rate has ticked upwards and his “assisted on” percentage has plummeted to a career-low 59.1 percent.

Jones has been more aggressive, and the Wolves’ bench unit has been better for it. Only time will tell, but perhaps a strong finish to the season and his relationship with Saunders will grease the wheels for a return to Minnesota in restricted free agency this summer.

Grade: B+