In the midst of a challenging year, many Minnesota Timberwolves fans are looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. The team is still working on building consistency, and every single game is a must-win to avoid remaining in the play-in tournament.
The season may not be lost yet, but it is hard to look back on last summer’s trade with the Jazz and not wonder how things might have ended up differently if the Wolves had gone a different route. Watching what Walker Kessler is doing this season in Utah has not helped.
But there is one player from the Timberwolves’ 2022 offseason that is flying under the radar. Minnesota’s 50th overall pick in the 2022 draft, Matteo Spagnolo, could end up being a reason for legitimate excitement for Wolves fans in the future.
Matteo Spagnolo has been playing at a professional level since age 14.
Spagnolo was the Timberwolves’ final selection in their 2022 draft class. He did not travel to the United States after being drafted, as Minnesota planned to “draft and stash” Spagnolo, having him further develop his game abroad this season.
Playing for another pro team this season has been nothing new for Spagnolo. He has been playing basketball at a professional level since he was a young teenager. At age 14, he made his pro debut for Stella Azzurra in Rome, and became the youngest Italian player to compete at the senior level.
From there, he relocated to Spain to join Real Madrid, before returning to Italy to play with Vanoli Cremona. After competing with the Timberwolves’ summer league squad following his draft selection, Spagnolo has been playing with Aquila Basket Trento in Italy for the duration of the current NBA season.
Spagnolo could be a very intriguing prospect for the Timberwolves.
While Matteo Spagnolo seemed like an afterthought in the Timberwolves’ crazy offseason last summer, he could be a very relevant piece in Minnesota’s long-term plans. After the current season, the Wolves may decide to bring him over to the United States to join the team next year.
In his last three games, Spagnolo has averaged 19.3 points and 5.0 assists while getting to the free throw line an impressive nine times per contest. We have seen what professional experience overseas has done for other international players like Luka Doncic and Manu Ginobili, and Spagnolo could enter the NBA as a much better player than expected due to these reps.
Mike Conley is currently running point for the Wolves, but we are well aware that he is in the twilight of his career. Assuming Minnesota sees Matteo Spagnolo as a potential rotation player in the future, having him learn from Conley next season could be huge for his development. If Spagnolo’s professional experience translates to the NBA from day one, the Timberwolves will have ended up with a massive draft steal.