Jake Layman has missed a large portion of the 2019-20 season, but when he was available, he was a key contributor to the Minnesota Timberwolves success.
The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Jake Layman in a sign-and-trade with Portland last offseason and inked him to a three-year deal. While it wasn’t exactly a big-name free agency signing, it still proved to be an important one for the team.
Layman spent four seasons playing for the Maryland Terrapins, and was drafted in the second round by the Orlando Magic and was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers that night.
Now 26 years old, Layman spent three seasons playing in Portland and didn’t really flourish till his role expanded during the 2018-19 season, when he tallied 7.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
In his fourth season with Minnesota, he was only able to suit up in 23 games, starting two. Layman’s last game was against the Utah Jazz on Nov. 18, where was then sidelined by a hyperextended toe injury.
His return would come against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 24, after an absence of a little over a three months. After having a career year in Portland last season, Layman improved his numbers again in his fourth season.
This year, Layman is averaging 9.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. While his field goal percentage did drop to 45.3 percent from 50.9, he raised his 3-point percentage to 33.3 percent from 32.6 with the Blazers.
Despite that not being where he (or the Wolves, for that matter) would like for his shooting splits to be, Layman was still able to space the floor for Minnesota when available this season.
One of his bigger strengths to his game is his ability to cut to the rim.
His ability to see the floor and get open cuts to the rim for easy baskets were missed dearly when he was out of the lineup. Layman’s athleticism is off the charts and provided the team with a spark.
This is arguably his biggest dunk this season and is exactly the type of play that Minnesota was missing when he was out for three months. The dynamic that Layman adds as a cutter is a huge piece of the Wolves’ offense that was missing for a good chunk of the season.
The Timberwolves currently have the third-worst record in the NBA at 19-45. When the former Terrapin was in the lineup, Minnesota was 11-12. Despite missing three months, he was still a part of 11 of the team’s 19 wins to this point in the season.
Granted, he only played 23 games, but Layman also holds the team’s best individual net rating. This season he had an offensive rating of 106.6 and a defensive rating of 104.6.
When he’s not on the court, The Timberwolves have an offensive rating of 107.2 and a defensive rating of 112.3, a -5.1 difference. Only Karl-Anthony Towns, Robert Covington and D’Angelo Russell had a larger negative net rating difference when off the floor.
When Layman plays, makes the Timberwolves a better team, and that was shown to be true in the short amount of time he suited up for the team.
His ability to cut to the rim, stretch the floor a bit and play hard are just some of the things he was able to do in his first season with Minnesota. Thankfully, he still has two more seasons on his contract, so there should be more where that came from.