Breaking down Jordan Bell’s role with the Minnesota Timberwolves

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Jordan Bell #2 of the Golden State Warriors dunks the ball. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Jordan Bell #2 of the Golden State Warriors dunks the ball. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jordan Bell
SEATTLE, WA – OCTOBER 5: Jordan Bell #2 of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. If Bell buys into his coaches’ teaching, his weaknesses can be improved

In the first two seasons of his career, Jordan Bell has struggled shooting the ball, playing in the post, and with efficiency in the pick and roll.

It’s no secret that Jordan Bell isn’t a shooter. But, thankfully Bell understands this and has developed his game outside his shooting deficiencies, which is a testament to his on-court awareness and ability to play within the offense.

Even though Bell hasn’t shot many jumpers in the NBA thus far, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s able to develop that aspect of his game bit-by-bit throughout his career. He’s got pretty good touch around the rim with floaters and runners, and is able to knock down shots like this from time to time.

Bell possesses a relatively smooth, fluid jumper that is clear of any hitch or unnecessary body movement, which are all part of a key foundation to building a mid-range and 3-point jump shot later on down the line.

Unfortunately, Jordan isn’t much better in the post on offense.

He scored just 0.42 points per possession and scored only 16.7 percent of the time when he got the ball in the post last season. Those numbers ranked him south of the 1st percentile, which is as bad as you can get in the NBA.

Bell turned the ball over more than he scored, squandering the rock on 25.0 percent of his touches in the post.

Granted he averaged 0.2 post-ups per game, it’s pretty easy to tell that he doesn’t feel comfortable being in the post when you turn on the film.

As a post defender, he surrendered 1.08 points per post-up. Additionally, his matchups scored on 58 percent of their post-ups and shot 60 percent in these situations, which ranks him in the 21st percentile in the league.

Unsurprisingly, he got bullied in the post as a small-ball 5 in Golden State. Steve Kerr bet on opposing teams going small to match their speed and shooting, but when opposing teams played big with Bell on the floor, they often found success initiating offense down on the block.

In Minnesota, however, Bell will find himself in these scenarios few and far between. As mentioned earlier, he’ll share the floor with teammates such as KAT or Vonleh, who will handle the post defense duties. This will allow Jordan to thrive as a rotating help defender,  so I wouldn’t worry too much about his struggles down low.

It should be noted that the Wolves hired away Kevin Hanson from the Pelicans, who worked extensively with Anthony Davis in developing both his interior and perimeter offensive skills throughout his time in the Big Easy. Hopefully, Bell’s work with him will spring major development in his post skills.

As for his perimeter skills, Bell could look to new Wolves’ Player Development Associate and former Texas Tech Assistant Coach Max Lefevre. While Lefevre is widely expected to work closely with former Red Raider and top draft pick Jarrett Culver, he also has experience in developing jump shots.

In addition to his work with Culver, he also helped turn Sixers’ second-year guard Zhaire Smith from an unknown incoming freshmen to a mid-first round pick. A big part of that was taking Smith’s shooting form to the next level. Hopefully Lefevre can do the same with Bell.

Finally, JB has some has room for improvement on both sides of the pick and roll.

On offense, Bell struggled to convert on his shot attempts after receiving pocket and chest passes from the ball handler. He shot just 32.3 percent on such shots and scored a meager 0.58 points per possession in these actions, good for just shy of the 3rd percentile among forwards last season.

When defending the roll man in the pick and roll, Bell was average at best. He gave up 1.00 points per PnR action and allowed scores on 45.0 percent of these possessions. While he was in the 47th percentile there, most of this came from switching onto ball-handlers, rather than defending the roll men.

He was terrific in switching out onto guards and shutting them down, but I’d love to see him improve on defending pocket passes and lobs off screens.

Now, let’s see what his potential role will look like.