The Minnesota Timberwolves won a close, competitive game against the Chicago Bulls at home in another great performance from D’Angelo Russell as he returns from injury.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, now 14-40, have a chance to overtake the Houston Rockets as the second-worst team in the NBA in the coming days. They still are 3.5 games ahead of the Orlando Magic in terms of holding the tied-for-best odds at maintaining a top-3 selection.
Takeaway #1 – Chris Finch is trimming the rotation.
The Timberwolves only had seven players with more than ten minutes played tonight – and each of those guys had 25+ minutes of action. Jarred Vanderbilt, Jake Layman, Ed Davis, and Jaylen Nowell each gained DNP’s, with Culver, Hernangomez, and McLaughlin only getting 7-8 minutes each.
The return of D’Angelo Russell has seen assurance to the point guard rotation, as he basically split the rotation evenly with Ricky Rubio tonight.
Takeaway #2 – D’Angelo Russell is the second-best Timberwolves player until proven otherwise.
The D’Angelo Russell effect has clearly been seen over the course of the past three games. Tonight, he scored 27 points on 13 shots, contributing to a much-needed win, and the Timberwolves are 2-2 in the past four games with Russell coming off of the bench.
The beginning of the season was really dissuading as Russell was clearly failing to impact winning on a basic level – particularly without Karl-Anthony Towns in the lineup early on. That said, Russell has been much, much better this season – and it will be interesting to see whether this continues as his role expands (and he returns to the starting lineup).
Takeaway #3 – This Timberwolves team needs Malik Beasley (or, at least, another shooter to step up).
Tonight, the Timberwolves shot 44-percent on 3-point attempts. That won’t happen every night – nor should it be expected. With Russell and Reid being the only two impactful role players off of the bench tonight, it’s difficult to find where more shooting is going to come from as Russell inevitably replaces Rubio in the starting lineup.
Beasley, shooting 40-percent on 3-point attempts this season, should be an impact player whether he’s the sixth man or in the starting lineup – and his role is clear with the Timberwolves. That said, it still wouldn’t be shocking to see Minnesota trade him for a forward this coming offseason.
The Timberwolves next game is at home against the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow night.