Minnesota Timberwolves: Checking in on Wolves’ rookies

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 12: Kieta Bates-Diop and Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 12: Kieta Bates-Diop and Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have three rookies on the roster this season, all with impressive potential. Let’s check in on their progress to this point in the season.

Josh Okogie, Keita Bates-Diop, and Jared Terrell. If you’re a Minnesota Timberwolves fan, chances are you already know these players, and if not, it won’t be long until you find out.

Okogie has already shown he’s a solid player that belongs on the NBA court. Terrell has worked his way into seven NBA games, despite his status as a two-way player, and Bates-Diop, well, we’re going to have to wait and see what he has to offer.

The 20th pick of the draft is enjoying a rookie season many would be envious of. Okogie has appeared in 43 games, including an impressive 21 starts, and is averaging 7.3 points, 1.2 assists, and just shy of 3 rebounds and a steal. Okogie’s real talent comes in the form of his explosiveness and tenacity.

The dunks Okogie brings are reminiscent of Andrew Wiggins from a few years ago, and that’s something the Timberwolves have missed. Not only is Okogie able to hold his own on both ends of the court, but he shows flashes of the determination Jimmy Butler offered the Wolves throughout his stint with the team.

Okogie is a gem for the Wolves to have on the team due to his versatility. He could be inserted into the starting lineup long-term in the shooting guard role, come off the bench offering a sixth-man type of energy and give the team a boost, or make a real solid trade piece if the Timberwolves look to make moves.

There’s a real chance Okogie works himself into a big contract (see: Zach LaVine) when his time comes, so for now, the Timberwolves need to make the most of him while his services still only cost $2 million a year.

Next up, we have the undrafted two-way guard who has worked his way into more appearances than our second draft pick. Jared Terrell seemed like more of a G-League booster for Iowa, with a shot at a few games in the top league when he signed after the draft. Yet here we are in February and Terrell has made seven NBA appearances with varying degrees of success.

The first appearance was a one-off in early November, where Terrell earned 21 minutes in a 30-point blowout loss to Portland. Terrell actually managed four points, a block, a rebound and two steals in this game, but shot a dreadful 1-of-8 from the field. His second chance didn’t come until this year, but with six January appearances, Terrell has managed to hold onto a top-grade role with Rose, Jones, Teague, and others out injured.

In seven appearances, Terrell is managing 3 points and an assist per game, with 0.4 rebounds and steals in 9.6 minutes. While these aren’t the greatest stats, Terrell is managing a greater role than Bates-Diop (different positions, I know) and has been an asset to the G League Iowa Wolves as well.

It will be interesting to see what sort of role Terrell manages once the Wolves are back to full (or near-full) strength. Will Terrell still have a spot on the team when there aren’t injuries, or will he finish the season in the G-League?

Last up, we have Keita Bates-Diop, the Timberwolves’ supposed steal at No. 48 in the draft. Bates-Diop has potential, don’t get me wrong, but at this point has failed to show it. Is it due to lack of opportunity? Maybe, but in the NBA players have got to earn their role, and with Ryan Saunders opening up the rotation to allow more players time on the court, Bates-Diop needs to seize the opportunity.

Bates-Diop has played five games in a Timberwolves uniform, and in his defense, they have been pretty sporadic. The first came in October, the next was November, before three appearances in January. The small forward has averaged 1.2 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.2 blocks in 6.4 minutes per appearance.

Only one appearance has lasted longer than 10 minutes on the court, while the latest was less than a minute and a half. While his G League stats are a bit more impressive, that isn’t what the Timberwolves drafted him for, especially when he was projected to be a possible late first-round selection at some points of the draft.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing Bates-Diop has shown is his efficiency. Bates-Diop is shooting a dreadful 27 percent from the field, and when you’re attempting less than three shots a game that isn’t going to win you more playing time. It’s understandable that Bates-Diop wants to score as he’s currently lacking other contributions on-court but smarter shot selection and a more aggressive presence are needed.

I like Bates-Diop’s potential, and he has quite a high ceiling — he’s just yet to show us what he can do in the top league. As a 23-year-old, four-year college veteran, Bates-Diop probably should’ve had a smoother transition to the NBA, but given time he may blossom into what we think he can be.

Next. Karl-Anthony Towns named to his second All-Star game. dark

The Timberwolves’ rookies still have a lot of time to show us what they can do on the court, and I for one am excited to watch.