Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 players who have earned more playing time

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jake Layman
ORLANDO, FL – FEBRUARY 28: Jake Layman #10 of the Minnesota Timberwolves goes up for a dunk. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

Jake Layman

This season for Layman was a big letdown that was no fault of his own.

After a solid start to the season, averaging 10.5 points on 35 percent shooting from three, Layman spent much the rest of the season recovering from the misleading injury called turf toe.

So even though Layman may not inherently qualify for “guys who earned more time” moniker, he is a productive off-ball wing who did not get the full chance to showcase his ability this season.

With so much of the NBA going towards isolation and pick-and-roll offenses, players have become more stagnant on the wing despite the creation of more space. But Layman doesn’t fit that mold.

He does a great job of moving off the ball, explicitly timing his cuts perfectly, so he can use his athleticism to attack the rim where he ranked in the 92nd percentile among forwards with an at-the-rim field goal mark of 74 percent.

Since this season’s numbers for Layman seem to be insufficient, let’s also sprinkle in some of his numbers with the Trail Blazers from last season. This season, Layman scored 1.385 PPP (70th percentile) when cutting against man-to-man defenses. He was similarly successful last season with 1.392 PPP (74th percentile).

Here, we see how Layman does a great job of setting up his defender for an easy dunk. The play is initially designed for Layman to run a dribble handoff. Instead, Layman recognizes that his defender is way overplaying him. Layman makes a simple jab step towards the screen, which sends his defender the wrong way, and then he explodes towards the rim for an easy dunk and a foul.

With defenses directing most of their focus to D’Angelo Russell and Towns next season, cutting opportunities like this should be frequent.

Layman is also a legitimate threat when running dribble handoffs. This year his 1.111 PPP ranked in the 85th percentile, and last season his 1.308 PPP ranked in the 96th percentile.

Layman’s cutting effectiveness is predicated on his ability to explode from a standstill and tendency to lull his defender to sleep. This movement is also applicable in dribble handoff scenarios like below.

Layman is initially set up in the corner, acting like he isn’t part of the play. As the ball rotates his direction, he waits a moment and then bursts towards the ball. Once Layman receives the handoff, he recognizes that his defender has decided to go under the screen, likely thinking Layman is going to dribble towards the top of the key since Johnson and Russell are setting screens. Instead, Layman slams on the breaks and pulls up for an open three.

Akin to McLaughlin and Reid, Layman will rarely light up a box score. Instead, all three of these players have skill sets that are great compliments to their stars. They fill their role, score efficiently, and do the little things to help contribute to winning basketball.

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Based on this season’s production and their skillsets, Jordan McLaughlin, Naz Reid, and Jake Layman have earned more playing time going forward.