The Minnesota Timberwolves may have solved their point guard problem, and it doesn’t appear as though D’Angelo Russell is the only one to thank.
The new-look Minnesota Timberwolves can go into the last 30 games of the season with at least one less thing to worry about: the point guard position.
D’Angelo Russell’s arrival consumed the fervor around the roster overhaul, and rightfully so. He will be the Timberwolves’ most dynamic point guard since Stephon Marbury, and the best all-around point guard since Sam Cassell.
The organization has been upfront in its pursuit of D-Lo over the past several months and will surround him with an almost completely re-tooled roster.
Also, the jettisoning of Shabazz Napier allowed Jordan McLaughlin to climb the depth chart. And with D-Lo out nursing a quad injury, McLaughlin earned his first start and showcased his ability to lead the team to a decisive victory over a good LA Clippers team.
McLaughlin commanded the offense with confidence and poise in a performance that did not look like it was the first time the team has played together. He dished out 11 assists while committing zero turnovers. When Russell made his team debut on Monday in Toronto, McLaughlin was back on the bench but played well again, with five assists to only one turnover in 16 minutes and finishing with a +11 in the plus-minus column.
The sample size is still small, but McLaughlin can secure the role as the floor general for the second unit. His versatility on offense and active defense should be encouraging to all Wolves fans.
After all, McLaughlin looked like the best player on the court at times against the Clippers. He was hyper-focused, extremely efficient (11-of-15 shooting), hit a couple of threes, and threw down two dunks that electrified the Target Center crowd. It sure appears as though his athleticism has been overlooked.
McLaughlin will be able to keep the pressure on when he comes off the bench. D-Lo can razzle-dazzle with the starting unit while McLaughlin looks capable of maintaining that energy and providing a potentially steady hand with the second team.
Throughout the year, the Wolves have toyed with solutions at running the point. McLaughlin being behind D-Lo will bring stability to the position.
After McLaughlin, there is no true point guard on the roster. James Johnson was successful when given the opportunity to run the offense in Miami, and Jarrett Culver continues to develop and has shown great playmaking ability.
With a reduced role at point guard, Culver could be able to capitalize on opportunities to run the offense. His on-ball defense is also an incredible asset. The Wolves will have plus-defenders running the point coming off the bench. Additionally, we can’t discount newcomer Malik Beasley bringing the ball up at times.
We should accept a regression to the mean, but we can also expect that chemistry will improve as the new team hones in on its brand of basketball. The point guard position has the potential to go from the Wolves’ biggest weakness to one of their biggest strengths.
The Wolves have found the answer, and it’s not just D’Angelo Russell.