Minnesota Timberwolves: Checking in on the Iowa Wolves

EL SEGUNDO, CA - JANUARY 25: Darius Johnson-Odom #8 of the Iowa Wolves handles the basketball against the South Bay Lakers. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
EL SEGUNDO, CA - JANUARY 25: Darius Johnson-Odom #8 of the Iowa Wolves handles the basketball against the South Bay Lakers. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Iowa Wolves might currently have a losing record in the G League, but there is still an interesting array of talent on their roster. How could the Minnesota Timberwolves leverage that to their benefit?

If you haven’t watched the G League’s Iowa Wolves yet this season, well, it’s hard to blame you.

The Wolves are 16-24, last in their division, and are only drawing about 2,000 fans a game in a 16,000 seat arena. Despite that, there are a few things that Minnesota Timberwolves fans should know about their squad’s G League affiliate.

Most notably, the Iowa Wolves is where Keita Bates-Diop has spent most of his time on the court so far this year.

Bates-Diop, the Timberwolves’ 2018 second-round pick, has played and started in 16 games for Iowa and has done fairly well in his time there. While his shooting splits of 44/34/72 are not very impressive, he has been averaging nearly 18 points and nine rebounds a night and has shown to be a solid defender.

Timberwolves fans also should know about the Wolves’ two-way players, C.J. Williams and Jared Terrell.

Terrell has averaged 16 points over 26 games, but has largely struggled with his efficiency. Terrell has an offensive rating of 100 and his 40/31/78 splits are even worse than KBD’s. However, he is a rookie and is certainly a project if Minnesota wants to keep him moving forward.

Williams is kind of an odd pick for a two-way player as he’s 28 years old, which doesn’t offer upside if the team is trying to find a prospect for the future. Williams as struggled at both levels so far this season, but theoretically is solid insurance that the Timberwolves have stashed in Iowa.

One veteran who has been doing exceptional this season is Darius Johnson-Odom. Johnson-Odom, 29, is one of the leading scorers in the G League at 23.8 points per game. His 51/35/83 shooting splits are the most impressive on the team, and the advanced metrics suggest that he would have made a much better two-way player than either Terrell or Williams.

Personally, my favorite player to watch on Iowa’s squad is Canyon Barry, who would have a case to occupy Williams’ two-way spot right now. He is only 25 and could potentially still develop into a decent bench player if the Timberwolves needed him. He has shooting splits of 46/40/88 and has an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 55.

Looking several steps ahead to next season, there certainly appear to be a number of solid college players who are, at least at this point, projected to go undrafted by the majority of the mock drafts that are out there already.

Here’s a list of a few guys who fall into that category:

  • F Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
  • F Mike Daum, South Dakota State
  • F Matt Rafferty, Furman
  • G Fletcher Magee, Wofford
  • G Caleb Martin, Nevada
  • G Lagerald Vick, Kansas

The Timberwolves are going to be cap-strapped for the next few years, and so they will have to get creative with how they build their roster. Loading Iowa’s roster and smartly utilizing their two-way spots with first and second-year players would give Minnesota a better chance at striking it rich on low-risk acquisitions.

Next. How many wins can the Wolves get to this year?. dark

The organization needs to realize that stacking Iowa with youth instead of veterans gives them better odds at finding talent in a cap-strapped environment. Time will tell if Minnesota will adopt this strategy, or if they will stay the course that has Iowa sitting where they are right now.