Minnesota Timberwolves: Analyzing 6 two-man lineups

D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jarrett Culver
Jarrett Culver of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Culver

This duo doesn’t have the offensive fire-power that the others have, but it actually brings stifling defense against opposing teams. Russell and Jarrett Culver have shared the floor for 117 minutes, posting offensive and defensive ratings of 109.5 and 101.8 respectively.

What is it about this duo that is so good defensively? Likely, it can be attributed to the combination of players around them. We know that Culver is a crafty defender that can make some very nice plays, but as mentioned before, Russell doesn’t show up on that end.

Offensively, Russell is able to set up others around him with slick passes and crafty moves that draw defenders towards him. As mentioned earlier, Russell is also able to effectively create his own shot. Culver shows flashes of competent offense, but doesn’t shoot the ball great from anywhere on the floor.

Interesting stat about the duo…

Russell and Culver have the highest defensive rating for a duo on the Timberwolves that has played at least 60 minutes together since the trade deadline.

Why these numbers could continue

The offense is likely to continue, simply because Russell create enough offense for himself and those around him. He will continue to find open cutters in the lane or down the baseline, kick to open shooters as he drives towards the basket, and use his shifty dribble moves to create space to let it fly.

Defensively, surrounding the duo with hard workers should allow the defense to prosper. It likely won’t stay near the top of the league, but it could work out to be an effective group on that side of the ball.

Best players to round out this lineup

Malik Beasley: He was pegged as a below-average defender when coming to Minnesota. However, in his time here, Malik has shown a lot of hard work on that side of the ball. He isn’t physical like Okogie, but he keeps his man in front of him and has the athleticism to make some plays. Offensively, Malik will be able to spot up in the corner or come off of screens for a catch and shoot three from Russell.

Jake Layman: Defensively, Layman should hold his own. He keeps guys in front of him and has the length to make some pesky plays. Russell needs an effective cutter to open up the offense, hence why Layman comes in. HIs athleticism allows him to cut to the basket and rise up for a dunk.

Here we see Russell recognize that Zion Williamson has drifted near the paint, which allowed for him to find Layman in the corner. Layman then uses his speed and athleticism to blow past Williamson and sky for a dunk on Nicolo Melli.

Karl-Anthony Towns: Towns provides size in the paint defensively. If able to stay around the rim, Towns should provide good protection for the Wolves. Offensively, we know that Towns is able to score from outside or post-up and have his way with defenders. He will also be able to find Layman cutting or Beasley open for a three.