Minnesota Timberwolves: What’s wrong with Juancho Hernangomez?

Juan Hernangomez is an option for the Minnesota Timberwolves in free agency. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Juan Hernangomez is an option for the Minnesota Timberwolves in free agency. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Through the first week of the NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten almost no production out of Juancho Hernangomez.

During the offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves showed us all how much they value Juan Hernangómez by signing the Spaniard to a three-year, $21 million contract.

With that type of money, one would assume they would trust Juancho to be a solid contributor to winning basketball, and possibly start and finish games at power forward, a notable weak spot for the team.

Some people even had the audacity to zero in on Hernangómez during the offseason as the potential breakout candidate for the Timberwolves this season.

If you were one of those eager fans, you would be wildly disappointed by how Juancho has performed over the first three games as he’s been completely invisible on both ends of the court.

In three games, Juancho is playing only 10 minutes per contest, averaging just two points and three rebounds per game while making only three shots total: one three, a layup, and a free throw — all coming in the Wolves’ loss to the Lakers.

In just 30 minutes on the court, Hernangómez is only ahead of Ed Davis and fellow ghost Jake Layman with a net rating of -33.8, and is second-to-last on the team behind Jarred Vanderbilt with a true shooting percentage of 22.5. These are truly abysmal numbers for a 6-foot-9 power forward who has shown the ability to stroke it from three throughout his career.

The scariest thing about his substandard start to the season is that with the wrist injury to Karl-Anthony Towns, Juancho’s role will have to increase and he will have to step up and vastly improve if the Timberwolves are going to stay afloat without their superstar.

After the Wolves questionably waived Rondae Hollis-Jefferson before the season began, the burden to fill minutes at the power forward position falls to Juancho, Layman, Davis, and Vanderbilt, arguably the four members of the Timberwolves who have had the worst starts to the season.

Hernangómez will, at the very least, have to improve his defense with Towns out and Naz Reid holding down the center spot in his absence.

His one true asset as a power forward is the way he can stretch the floor. If he’s not hitting threes, Juancho has little-to-no value on the court. He’s a career 35.6 percent 3-point shooter and shot 42 percent from deep in 14 games in Minnesota last season.

The good news for Wolves fans is that this is an extremely small sample size that we are judging him on. Remember, he’s only played 30 total minutes all season. That’s essentially one game’s worth of starter’s minutes, and, as it turns out, basketball players have bad games all the time.

His playing time is about to increase, and with more volume perhaps he can shoot himself out of his early-season slump and be more connected with the team on offense and defense. Additionally, Hernangómez had his best game in the most recent loss to the Lakers.

Juancho will have to snap out of it sooner rather than later as the Wolves play the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, then go home to face the newly rejuvenated yet winless Washington Wizards before a home-and-away series with the Denver Nuggets. Then, the Wolves head to Portland to play the Trail Blazers.

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The schedule will be difficult, but if Juancho wants to be taken seriously this season and live up to his contract, he needs to snap out of his first-week trance and start playing some real basketball.