Minnesota Timberwolves: 4 players who benefit from Malik Beasley’s absence

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Minnesota Timberwolves, Josh Okogie

Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

On Thursday, Minnesota Timberwolves wing Malik Beasley was suspended for 12 games by the NBA due to the offseason conduct that led to charges.

It’s a significant chunk of games, more than 16 percent of the shortened season. Beasley is in the midst of the best season of his career; his per-game averages of 20.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 0.8 steals are all career-bests and he’s shooting a sparkling .455/.406/.847 (field goal, 3-point, and free throw percentages).

D’Angelo Russell remains out, and the Wolves are suddenly without their two best offensive players not named Karl-Anthony Towns. While the hits keep coming for the organization, there are a handful of individual players who could benefit from an increase in playing time.

Timberwolves players who benefit from Malik Beasley’s absence: Josh Okogie

Only a couple of weeks ago, Josh Okogie was a hot topic among Timberwolves fans.

The former first-round pick and only non-Towns holdover from the Tom Thibodeau era fell far, from shutdown defender, effective cutter, and de facto starter to an energy guy on the fringes of the rotation.

His slide from grace was mostly deserved, of course. There were several unsightly performances, from the Golden State Warriors entirely ignoring him for several possessions in a row to a series of embarrassing turnovers in Oklahoma City. Okogie not only lost his starting spot but played only single-digit minutes in five of the last nine games with Ryan Saunders at the helm.

Recently, the attention has shifted has been the firing of Saunders and the sudden hiring of Chris Finch as the new head coach. Okogie has played 12 and 16 minutes, respectively, in Finch’s first two games as coach.

It appears as though Okogie is more likely to receive minutes as the 2 and the 3 instead of the 4 moving forward, given the emergence of both Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels. He’s more likely to be paired with McDaniels, as the outside shooting deficiencies of both Vanderbilt and Okogie make playing them together tenuous.

Okogie is still a good defender. He just needs to be in more of a Vanderbilt-esque role when on the floor. The best solution is likely for Okogie to guard wings defensively but function more like a 4 on offense, allowing McDaniels to space the floor while focusing on cutting and spacing into the “dunker” spot along the baseline instead of spotting up on the perimeter.

Additionally, he’s one of the few players on the roster who likely has some trade value, and this is an opportunity for the Wolves to showcase what he can do in case the right trade comes across Gersson Rosas’ desk.

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