The Minnesota Timberwolves will be without Tyus Jones for at least a week. How will Ryan Saunders handle his backcourt rotation in Jones’ absence?
Tyus Jones has been an important part of the Minnesota Timberwolves regular rotation for the better part of three seasons. Now, he’ll be in a walking boot for a few days and miss the next several games due to an ankle sprain.
The Timberwolves have had a revolving door of sorts at the point guard position this year.
Regular starter Jeff Teague has only appeared in 29 of the team’s 44 games due to knee and ankle injuries. Jones started six games in Teague’s absence, causing sixth-man Derrick Rose, who has mostly played shooting guard in Minnesota, to slide over to backup point guard.
Rose himself has started 11 games between the two guard spots. Jerryd Bayless, who was injured when acquired from Philadelphia in mid-November, has appeared in seven games off the bench in recent weeks.
To recap, Teague has missed 15 games, Rose has missed 10, and Jones has missed one. Two-way players C.J. Williams and Jared Terrell have both been called upon to play some backup point guard, too, as the Wolves dug deep into the depth chart to paper over the problem.
To make matters even worse, neither Jones or Teague has performed as well as they did a year ago. Rose has been up-and-down in recent weeks as he’s battled with a recurring ankle injury and hasn’t been quite the same player as he was at the start of the season.
So, how will interim head coach Ryan Saunders fill the void left by Jones as the Wolves nine consecutive and 13 out of 14 games against Western Conference opponents?
The obvious choice would be to slot Rose in as the backup point guard, spelling Jeff Teague for 12 to 16 minutes per game and playing the rest of his minutes at the two-guard. But while Rose is at point, those backup minutes at the two will be filled by…
Hmmm. James Nunnally is gone. Jared Terrell is a two-way player who has looked entirely over-matched in his short stints with Minnesota. Anthony Tolliver will likely play some small forward and while Josh Okogie and Andrew Wiggins will both play heavy minutes and back each other up, it’s probable that Jerryd Bayless will fill in at point in the minutes that Rose plays at the two.
All that to say, the Wolves have a deep team with several interchangeable parts, but the absence of Jones and an (albeit loose) minutes restriction on Rose, combined with Teague’s nagging ankle injury certainly complicates things.
Here’s hoping that Jones’ absence is much closer to one week than two, as the next couple of weeks and a murderer’s row of Western Conference opponents could make or break the season.