Tom Thibodeau is doing nothing to change his reputation for playing his starters big minutes. The Timberwolves’ starting lineup averages more than six minutes per game more than any other lineup in the league and the Wolves are the only team with four players averaging 34 minutes per game or more.
Getting the short end of the stick is Shabazz Muhammad, who has been DNP’d in four of the Wolves’ last five games. Even with fellow reserve Nemanja Bjelica missing the last eight games with a sprained left foot, Muhammad isn’t playing. He has totaled just 26 minutes over that stretch, with Thibodeau choosing to play only eight guys most nights.
“Our bench has to play well,” Thibodeau said, “so we’re trying to see what we can do to get going.”
So Thibodeau has made his second unit — already missing Bjelica the past eight games — even shorter, and has asked his starters to do more.
Meanwhile, Muhammad has watched in their entirety games against New Orleans, Memphis and two against the Clippers while saying he is both frustrated and upbeat.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” he said. “I definitely played well in preseason. I think I’m going to get that back. I’ve been staying after [practice], getting up extra shots, getting my conditioning in, making sure my body is in tiptop shape so I can be ready. I feel really good. The best thing is to stay ready and stay in shape right now. I’ll wait for my number to be called. That’s the best thing I can do at this point. I’m watching the games, staying ready, waiting for Coach to call my name. That’s being a professional and that’s something I’ve got to go do.”
When asked if Muhammad’s absence is temporary, Thibodeau said, “We’ll see how it unfolds.”