Nickeil Alexander-Walker baring his fangs on Timberwolves roster

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves are showing signs of life again, and I think part of the reason is thanks to the willingness to risk a trade at the NBA Trade Deadline.

The truth is that I’m not exactly certain that Minnesota Timberwolves fans have a true appreciation for just how effective President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly has been for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But I am not here to discuss nor to praise Connelly for the job he’s done so far.

I am merely here to acknowledge that his wheeling and dealing landed the Timberwolves roster a shooting guard by the name of Nickeil Alexander-Walker. And for the life of me, I was completely surprised at just how effective this wing defender has been for the Timberwolves in just his first seven games with the team:

The Timberwolves were not just about shedding a burdensome contract with the exchange that involved both the LA Lakers and the Utah Jazz. In fact, that trade has changed the fortunes of the Minnesota Timberwolves on multiple fronts.

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Don’t judge a trade on past performance

From the moment that the trade was made, NBA analysts rushed in to praise the instant competitiveness of the new Lakers roster, the uncanny savviness of the Utah Jazz to add another future first-round NBA Draft pick and did no better than offer up a tsk-tsk reaction over the Minnesota Timberwolves and their willingness to give up such a heroic performer like PG D’Angelo Russell for so little.

And yet, since that trade, D’Angelo Russell has scored 53 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, and dished out 20 assists for the LA Lakers. Meanwhile, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has scored 56 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, and dished out 12 assists for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and did so at a fraction of the salary cost. Oh, and for the record, DLo has scored on six of 17 shots from beyond the three-point arc in 100 minutes of play. Nickeil Alexander-Walker has drilled 12 of the 24 shots he has attempted from that distance in just 113 minutes of play.

Just like that, the Timberwolves roster can check off two boxes. Best of all, Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a positive force on this team and has been a complete breath of fresh air in his willingness to fill whatever role Coach Finch has for him.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker joins the ranks of Wendell Moore Jr., Josh Minott, and Luka Garza as players who appear to have a home and bright future with the Minnesota Timberwolves. If not for the shrew bargaining ability of Tim Connelly, Nickeil Alexander-Walker may have played himself out of the NBA by collecting dust on the Jazz’s bench.

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Instead, he is baring his fangs on the Timberwolves roster, and punching a bit of fresh energy and excitement to this team when it needs it the most. I love where this team is going. Best of all, the Timberwolves are getting there without draft picks.