How will head coach Chris Finch go about replacing the minutes of his best perimeter defender and veteran leader?
Patrick Beverley will miss at least the next couple of weeks for the Timberwolves
The Timberwolves entered the weekend on a five-game winning streak and have been playing their best all-around basketball in four years.
There are plenty of reasons for it — Anthony Edwards’ rapid ascension, relative health, more minutes to plus defenders who were on last year’s roster in Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels — but it’s hard to imagine there being any single catalyst for the Wolves through the first 20 percent of their schedule more significant than veteran guard Patrick Beverley.
During Wednesday’s impressive win over the Miami Heat, however, Beverley suffered an adductor strain in the first quarter and was quickly ruled out for the game. News came down on Friday that Beverley would be out at least a couple of weeks, at which time he’ll be reevaluated.
How will the Minnesota Timberwolves replace Patrick Beverley’s minutes?
Given that Beverley had started the last several games, the first step in answering this question is determining who would join the starting lineup. That was answered, at least temporarily, by McDaniels’ presence in the starting five on Friday in Charlotte.
The next piece is related to the backup point guard role. Even though Beverley had been starting alongside D’Angelo Russell, he had also absorbed most of the backup minutes at the 1 with Jordan McLaughlin only seeing a handful of inconsistent minutes each game.
But there are also the skills that Beverley brings to the floor. He’s the team’s best perimeter defender, but he’s also a career 38.1 percent 3-point shooter and a reliable source for spot-up buckets. Beverley is also the best rebounder among Wolves point guards.
The most logical replacement for Beverley from a minutes perspective is Josh Okogie, who is easing back into game action after missing the better part of two weeks due to back spasms. Okogie is the second-best option when it comes down to locking down opposing guards at the point of attack; McDaniels is better-suited to guard lankier wings, and it’s especially true given the second-year forward’s propensity to commit personal fouls thus far this season.
Okogie also rebounds at a reasonable rate — his 10 percent mark is fourth among regular rotation members — but offers nothing in the way of offense.
It would make sense for McDaniels, Okogie, and McLaughlin to each receive a bump in minutes. We won’t necessarily see Finch’s rotation expand from what has regularly been nine players, as Okogie has been out of the rotation for some time and should plug right into Beverley’s spot.
But expect each of the above-mentioned three to receive a few more minutes, with McDaniels receiving the first crack at starting and McLaughlin getting the keys to the second unit. Okogie will be called upon depending on matchups and if the team struggles defensively, as they did on Friday in Charlotte.
There’s no replacing a veteran leader, all-around defender, and shooter like Patrick Beverley, But the closest thing the Wolves might be able to do is to replicate his skill-set by deploying a few of his teammates in different ways.