What to look for from Timberwolves 3rd preseason game?

Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

Even as NBA Rumors over an imminent trade of Karl-Anthony Towns heat up once more, the Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0) find themselves readying for their third preseason game, this time on the road to face the New York Knicks (1-0).  The game may be only a preseason game, but it will almost certainly provide ample evidence to both Timberwolves and Knicks fans as to where their respective teams stand in terms of postseason potential for the 2023-24 NBA season.

We know that the Timberwolves seemed to have little trouble dismantling the Dallas Mavericks in a two-game Abu Dhabi Tournament. But Minnesota Timberwolves fans are left wondering whether the Timberwolves are simply that good, or the Dallas Mavericks are simply that bad. Well, the answer will come today.

The New York Knicks defeated the new and improved Boston Celtics in their lone preseason game and did so while getting 15 players involved. The Knicks are coming back from a 47-35 record last season, a fifth-seed in the NBA Eastern Conference in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, and advancing to Round 2 before being turned back by the Miami Heat. To sum all of that up, the Knicks are most certainly a very good team.

But the Minnesota Timberwolves appear to be as well. This is a team that competed in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, their second consecutive postseason appearance, despite an injury-riddled roster. Better yet, the Timberwolves front office has seemingly reinforced the Timberwolves roster in many of the weak points discovered over the course of last season.  Now, it’s simply a matter of sitting back and seeing how the Timberwolves match up against a very good Knicks team.

What to look for from the Wolves in this one

While the list of clues and breadcrumbs of observable evidence could grow quite long in terms of what to watch for from the Timberwolves in their third preseason game, here are three items that we would direct your attention to:

KAT’s performance

If the latest and greatest NBA rumors are true, and the New York Knicks head coach is carrying a torch for Timberwolves PF Karl-Anthony Towns, it will be very intriguing to witness just how KAT plays in front of his former head coach. Will a very impassioned Towns step up his game to showcase what he is capable of for his former head coach? Or will this simply turn out to be just another game?

Towns had proven to be a red-hot catalyst for the Timberwolves in both games in Abu Dhabi. He was not only impressive on the offensive half of the basketball court, but he was very active on defense as well. Can he make it Tic-Tac-Toe, three in a row?  If he does, the Timberwolves have a lot to be optimistic about this season.

Where does Naz Reid play, and with which teammates?

Perhaps even more telling will be the number of minutes that Naz Reid plays in this game, and at what position? Regardless of whether rumors about the Knicks’ interest in KAT are true, the Timberwolves extended Naz Reid and seem to have committed more playing time to him this season. To get those minutes, Reid has been playing minutes in a power forward role and has been in a very complementary role with teammate center Rudy Gobert.

That could be nothing more complex than crosstraining Reid into a new and vital role for the team.  But against the backdrop of NBA rumors over a trade involving Karl-Anthony Towns, it does take on larger significance as it also suggests that the team views Reid as a possible successor to KAR in any trade scenario aftermath.

How do the Timberwolves handle PG duties when Conley rests?

The Minnesota Timberwolves love what Shake Milton brings to the team. So far, Milton has been an incredibly versatile performer who has the potential to be a vital component of the Timberwolves rotations and a key player off the bench. But potential has little value until it becomes production.

So far, Milton is averaging 17 minutes, 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game.  He is also scoring on 66.7 percent of his perimeter shots. That may not jump off the page at you, but keep in mind that he has only played in two preseason games on the Timberwolves roster.  His third game could be further evidence of how important he will be for this team.

But don’t ignore reserve PG Jordan McLaughlin in this game. He is averaging 12 minutes, 2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. He is shooting 33.3 percent from the perimeter.

There are many stories and sub-plots to follow as the Timberwolves and Knicks tip off today, October 14, 2023.  Stay tuned, as this one will certainly trigger plenty of discussions about the path that the Minnesota Timberwolves are taking this season.

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