Welcome to part two of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ draft rewind. What did people think of the Wolves’ current role players back at draft time?
We’re easing into draft season, which means it’s time to take a look at the draft history of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It can be ugly at times, but this should be a mostly fresh approach.
In part one of this series, we looked at the Wolves’ young talent, including rookies and two-way players, and what folks were saying about each of the players back at the time of their respective drafts. This time around, we’re going to look at the role players on the Wolves’ current roster.
For a full explanation of the exercise, be sure to check out part one.
Once again, draft information was taken from nbadraft.net and all stats are from Basketball-Reference.com.
Okay, let’s take a look at the Wolves role players.
Drafted: 2016, No. 47 Overall
NBA Comparison: Joe Alexander
NBA Outlook Analysis
Jake Layman entered the NBA as a tweener, not quite skilled enough as a ballhandler to play small forward and not strong enough to defend power forwards. He was — and still is — a very good athlete with has a smooth stroke from outside.
During his senior season, he took a step back offensively to allow the younger stars on the University of Maryland team to carry the load, showing he is willing to serve as a role player wherever he lands in the NBA. Taking a backseat offensively also allowed his efficiency to rise as he consistently got more open shots.
While playing four years in college generally can make the transition to pro basketball easier, but there were questions as to how much more he will be able to develop his game.
Layman & Alexander Comparison
Coming out of college, both Layman and Alexander were viewed as one of the top athletes in their respective draft classes. Alexander was ultimately taken No. 8 overall in the 2008 draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, while Layman went in the second round to the Orlando Magic in 2016, though he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers on draft night.
While Alexander had high expectations and had some bright spots for the Bucks he lasted just two seasons and played 67 total games in the NBA. In Alexander’s career he had averages of 4.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.7 assists.
Layman did not have the same expectations coming into the league as a second-round pick. Through two seasons, he averaged under six minutes in 70 total appearances.
The Blazers made some roster moves before the 2018-19 season that opened up minutes for Layman. Jake’s playing time jumped to 18.7 minutes per game in his third season, and his career averages currently sit at 5.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.5 assists.
Evaluation of Player Comparison
It is hard to imagine how fast Joe Alexander’s NBA career went south. While he had an up-and-down rookie season, he looked as though he could carve out a role in the NBA. However, the Bucks shipped him to the then-D-League in his second season before trading him to Chicago. Alexander has been playing in Europe ever since and is currently suiting up in Israel.
While Layman didn’t see much playing time during his first two seasons in Portland, he ultimately got an opportunity his third season in the league and took advantage. Before the 2019-20 season, the Wolves picked up Layman in a sign-and-trade while inking him to a three-year, $11.28 million deal.
Alexander came into the league with expectations of being am athletic scorer but lasted only parts of two seasons in the NBA. Layman, on the other hand, has developed his game each year he’s been in the league. If he can stay healthy will be an important part of the rotation for the Wolves moving forward.
Alexander did have the better rookie season, getting more opportunities to play, but through four seasons Layman has easily surpassed Alexander’s career.