Chase Budinger | 2013-14 Profile

Wolves forward Chase Budinger has battled injuries over the past two years, but if healthy he's proven he can be a scoring punch off the bench.
NBAE/Getty Images
by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

Editor’s Note: Throughout the next month, Timberwolves.com will take a look back at the Wolves’ 2013-14 roster individually and look ahead to the upcoming offseason and 2014-15 campaign. Part VIII looks back on Chase Budinger’s second year with the team.

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Chase Budinger

SF | 6-7, 209 pounds

2013-14 season: 41 GP, 18.3 MPG, .394 FG%, .350 3FG%, 6.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.5 SPG

This hasn’t been the way the Wolves or Chase Budinger expected his first two seasons in Minnesota to play out.

Budinger joined the Timberwolves in a June 2012 trade that ensured Minnesota gained a player tailor-made for coach Rick Adelman’s offensive plans. He can stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting, score in transition and, most importantly, create enough movement with his off-the-ball play to open up lanes for others on the court.

But in two seasons, Budinger has played just 64 games. He tore the meniscus in his left knee early in the 2012-13 season, then had that same knee operated on as Training Camp opened up last fall. He returned in January, but his season ended with an ankle injury in early-April.

The Wolves have a player in Budinger that can spark a ton of energy and production off the bench. He was a guy who impressed former Wolves coach Rick Adelman enough when the two were both in Houston that he wanted to try and make a move for Budinger in the summer of 2012. They did just that, swapping the 18th overall pick for Budinger that June.

Budinger is an athletic player who can get out and run while also hitting 3-pointers—a much-needed trait for this Timberwolves that, outside of Kevin Love, has struggled from beyond the arc in recent seasons. But Budinger’s health has de-railed his ability to help long-term. He came to the Wolves coming off a strong year during which he shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range and hit shot a career-best 44.2 percent from the field.

If the Wolves can get a full season out of Budinger, there’s a good chance we’d see him get back into that type of groove. He’s a sure-handed shooter when healthy, but he needs to be able to stay on the court and build on his game each day. If he can stay healthy next season, he will give the Wolves another strong option on the wing.

Chase Budinger’s Top Games

April 4 vs. Miami: This was Budinger’s most impactful game in a Timberwolves uniform outside of his game-winning layup against the Pacers early in the 2012-13 season. Budinger was incredibly important in the Wolves’ double-overtime win over the Heat in early April. He played 38 minutes—more than he’s played in any game with the Wolves over the past two years—and scored 24 points on 7-of-9 shooting. He hit 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc, and he also drew enough fouls to go 5-of-7 from the line. Add in four boards, four assists and two steals, and Budinger was all over the place in this 122-121 victory. Unfortunately, much like his Indiana game the previous year, the impact was short-lived. In the very next game against Orlando, Budinger left due to an ankle injury and didn’t return for the rest of the year. In 2012-13, Budinger suffered his torn meniscus in the very next game after his Indiana heroics—that time against the Bulls.

March 26 vs. Atlanta: Budinger was also very active in a 107-83 victory over the Hawks in late-March at a time when Atlanta very much needed any victory they could to hold off the Knicks for the eighth spot in the East. Budinger was 5-of-8 from the field, hit a pair of 3-pointers, and finished the game with 12 points. He also had seven boards and a pair of steals.

Jan. 27 at Chicago: This one is important for two reasons. First, it was Budinger’s first time he had a major impact in a game since returning from his surgery in Training Camp. He played 20 minutes in the game and shot 5-of-7 from the field—including 2-of-2 from 3-point range. He finished with 12 points and four rebounds. But it was also important because it was the same United Center court on which Budinger initially tore his meniscus back in November 2012. He was able to return a year later and not only have his best game since recovering from his latest knee procedure, but he contributed toward a 95-86 win.

Top Offseason Objectives

Budinger has struggled to stay healthy during his time in Minnesota—it’s been one thing after another that includes a pair of knee procedures plus an ankle injury that ended his 2013-14 campaign. Budinger’s offseason will likely be tailored toward recovery and recuperation. He never quite got the spring in his step back last year that he was known for in Houston, where he was able to run the floor and get to the rim effectively. He also was noticeably affected by his leg power when shooting 3-pointers—he never got back into his rhythm. Budinger’s offseason likely needs to revolve around getting that leg strength back, which impacts so many of the things he does well. He’ll be working out in his native Southern California this summer, and the hope is he’ll come back next year with a new level of conditioning, strength and health.

They Said It…

“It feels great just to be back, be around the team. You know, coming to the game the other night. It feels like I’m part of the team again. All the guys are very encouraging, and you know, very positive with everything.” — Wolves forward Chase Budinger as he continued his recovery in December after undergoing knee surgery in Training Camp.