Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 players affected by Malik Beasley’s return

Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jaylen Nowell
Jaylen Nowell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves players affected by Malik Beasley’s return: Jaylen Nowell

Jaylen Nowell has received a huge uptick in opportunity under Finch after his playing time began to decrease in the final days of Ryan Saunders’ tenure as head coach.

Since Beasley began his suspension, Nowell has averaged 25.4 minutes per game off the bench, scoring 12.8 points per game on 48 percent shooting and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Four games into Beasley’s absence backup point guard Jordan McLaughlin was unavailable due to health and safety protocols, and Nowell assumed a share of the playmaking responsibilities with the second unit. His assists ticked upward and Nowell began to look more and more comfortable in the lead ball-handling role.

Still, the former PAC-12 Player of the Year’s preference is to be a shoot-first player, as evidenced by his 10.3 shot attempts per game over the last 12 games and 21.4 percent usage rate on the season. He’s an efficient enough scorer, with a true shooting percentage of 56.4 and an effective field goal percentage of 53.7 percent on the season.

Interestingly, Nowell carries a slightly higher free throw rate than Beasley and while he shoots far more mid-range jumpers than Malik, he’s made an insane 66.7 percent of his shot attempts from 10-to-16 feet away from the basket, helping to contribute to his impressive offensive numbers.

Nowell has had the opportunity to be part of Finch’s closing lineup quite a bit of late, including the 22-0 game-finishing run in the win over the Rockets. In a game in which Nowell was just 4-of-14 from the field and 0-for-6 on 3-point attempts, he also contributed five rebounds, five assists, and three steals in the victory.

Nowell should continue to be the Wolves’ primary scoring option off the bench, but he may see his minutes decrease due to his similarities to Beasley. Neither has enough size or the defensive chops to play the 3 with any regularity, so they won’t be sharing the court much.

But it would be smart of Finch to leave at least one of them on the court at all times, giving the Wolves at least one above-average perimeter shooter not named Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Wolves’ rotation is about to look much different, but, at least in the near-term, Vanderbilt, Edwards, and Nowell are the three players likely to see the most significant change in role.

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