We can’t talk about impact off the bench without talking about one of the squad’s main leaders, forward Kyle Anderson, who is also known as Slo-Mo due to his trademark Euro-step when driving to the basket. Slo-Mo is back for another season and if he plays around the same level he did last year, without any stepbacks from the rest of the players, I would assume the Timberwolves are a Playoff lock, avoiding the Play-In.
In what was arguably the best season of his career, Kyle Anderson put up some impressive numbers:
28.4 MPG | 9.4 PPG | 50.9 FG% | 41.0 3P% | 5.3 RPG | 4.9 APG | 1.1 SPG | 0.9 BPG
while coming off the bench for most of the season.
Yes, he did in fact get an increased opportunity due to an untimely and prolonged injury to Karl-Anthony Towns, but there was more to his role than filling in for KAT. What makes a great sixth-man in the NBA is not only scoring off the bench It also means stepping up to start when needed, as well as the versatility to fill in roles where the team is weak.
Pointing Kyle Anderson to point forward
This past year, Kyle really stepped up his playmaking to a point-forward role, jumping up to five assists per game and only behind the starting point guard Mike Conley Jr. The reason? former PG D’Angelo Russell was having none of it, and backup PG Jordan McLaughlin was too injured to suit up.
Having improved in this area was crucial for the Wolves, as he really affected the second unit, which lacked a real floor general, especially when Jordan McLaughlin also got injured, and so Slo Mo took matters into his own hands.
Despite the end of the year drama on the bench with Rudy Gobert, Kyle is still one of the main locker room leaders on the roster, with his voice and respect being some of his greatest assets that can’t be measured on a box score. He delivers on both ends of the basketball court and was clearly the best FA signing by the team one year ago.
For the 2023-2024 season, don’t expect much of a change in his role. Slo Mo should still excel in his sixth-man spark off the bench. Even as KAT and the starters should set a much more competitive and stable pace, they will eventually need to rotate out to reset. And Timberwolves fans know that as soon as Kyle Anderson steps onto the basketball court, we have nothing to worry about because Slo Mo does it all and should take another jump if needed.