Is the hot/cold cycle of Timberwolves D’Angelo Russell hot again?

D'Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have, on paper or whiteboard, one of the more dominating starting five in the NBA. Of course, that presumes that everyone is healthy and that everyone has enough experience playing together as a team to have worked out all of their kinks. Of course, in reality, that has yet to happen. Not only did the Timberwolves roster enter 2022-23 in an NBA form of cold turkey, but the same starting five has been plagued with injuries.

Of 41 games played, only shooting guard Anthony Edwards has appeared in all 41 games. On the lower end of the spectrum, power forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns has appeared in half or just 21 games.

Another player who has appeared in most of the games is point guard D’Angelo Russell. He has played in 38 of 41 games so far this season. But his performance, much to the delight of his detractors, has been a bit less consistent than hoped for.

Tracking D’Los cycles

Those who are dissatisfied with D’Lo’s dealings assert that he is too hot/cold for the role he fills on the Minnesota Timberwolves roster. While most exaggerate the duration of his cold periods, the perception is fundamentally correct. Of the 38 games played this season, D’Angelo Russell has scored:

6 or fewer points: 4 games
7-12 points:           9 games
13-18 points:         9 games
19-24 points:         8 games
25+ points:              9 games

So the perception that D’Angelo Russell simply disappears for ‘A dozen or so games only to show up for one or two games…,’ is gross hyperbole. But it does describe the perception by some of D’Los worst critics that his performance is less consistent than it ought to be. That then raises the question. Is D’Angelo Russell entering a hot or cold cycle?

When comparing the game-by-game performance of D’Lo from this season to that of the 2021-22 NBA season, the cycles seem to align rather closely.  If the pattern holds, then Russell is on the upswing. He had two games in January 2022 that were ‘cold’, both against his former team, the Golden State Warriors. But his performance truly slumped in March 2022, when his average scoring plummeted from 21.5 PPG in February, down to just 13.1 PPG in March 2022.

For now, D’Angelo Russell appears to be on his warm/hot cycle. That’s a good thing because the Minnesota Timberwolves certainly need a hot D’Angelo Russell to regain ground in the NBA Playoff hunt. But keep an eye out, as that March slump from 2021-22 could rear its ugly head once more.

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