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Mailbag | Nicknames, Pets and Some Basketball

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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Welcome to another mailbag. These are actual questions from actual readers. Or they are made-up questions from made-up people in our office. You’ll never know!

Let the mailbag begin!

“I follow Andrew Wiggins on Instagram and he seems to really love his puppy, for good reason! What are the top favorite Timberwolves pets?” – Doug, Duluth

The hard-hitting questions first! I love it!

Wiggin has a dog named Cassie. Very cute dog and he’s all about her on Instagram. You should follow.

Tyus has a dog named Duke Stones Jones, there’s a good chance it’s the cutest Husky Pomeranian Mix you’ll ever see. Why Duke? Because Tyus went there. Why Stones? Because President Obama nicknamed Jones “Tyus Stones” after his gutty national championship performance.

Duke Stones Jones has an Instagram account with 5,245 followers.

When it comes to the cream of the crop, that’s the one-two pet combo on the Wolves. Rumors have it that the two are starting a reality TV show in the spring of 2021 on the CW.

This is my only chance without being weird to tell you I have a cat named KAT. He’s a pain in the butt 58 percent of the time, but he doesn’t eat much and properly uses his litter box. That’s all we can ask for.

Here he is wearing a Timberwolves hoodie.

KAT is ready for the Wolves game.

A post shared by Kyle Ratke (@kyleratke) on

 “I just heard that Jamal Crawford’s nickname is ‘Forever 21’ and that one is pretty great! What is your favorite nickname for a T’Wolves player?” – Kasey, Lacrosse, Wis.

Before we move on, Basketball-Reference has Dirk Nowitzki’s nickname as the “Tall Baller From The G” which I’m almost certain only 13 people have ever called him that. Apparently, his other nicknames on the site are “Dirty” and “German Race Car.” WHO IS CALLING DIRK THESE NAMES?

Let’s see what nicknames Basketball-Reference has in store for the Wolves.

Nemanja Bjelica – Professor Big Shots, Belly  

I’m a big fan of Professor Big Shots. I’m going to start calling myself that at pick-up basketball. Hits a fast break layup: CALL ME PROFESSOR BIG SHOTS! SAY IT! BIG DADDY BIG SHOTS!

Okay. Next.

Jimmy Butler – Jimmy G. Buckets

The G stands for “Gets.” Clever.

Tyus Jones – Tyus Stones

President Obama called him this so that’s about as good as it gets.

Karl-Anthony Towns – Special K, KAT

I’ve never heard anyone call him Special K. Underrated cereal, though, for dessert bars.

Andrew Wiggins – Maple Jordan, Junior Jordan, The Prospect, Mr. Fantastic

Mr. Fantastic it is!

“Out of all the players to move teams this offseason, which player has had the biggest impact to their new team?” – Craig, Maple Grove

Kyrie Irving. The Celtics lost Gordon Hayward in Game 1 and thanks to Irving, Brad Stevens and a slew of players who can guard multiple positions, Boston is on top of the Eastern Conference.

Irving is averaging 23.5 points, five assists and 3.2 rebounds per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from the 3-point line. This might still be a playoff team without Irving, but Kyrie gives the Celtics a cold-blooded closer down the stretch – much like Butler has given the Wolves.

“Who’s your Rookie of the Year so far?” – Eric

I’m not entirely comfortable with giving the Rookie of the Year Award to someone who had a full season to be around the team (even if he never played) like Ben Simmons was able to do last season while recovering from foot surgery, but the NBA is comfortable with that and I’m a company man, so that’s how it is.

Simmons is averaging 18 points, 9.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game. And he’s doing all of this as a 6-10 point guard who has only attempted eight 3-pointers all season! Eight 3-point attempts! In 2017, that’s the equivalent of not checking your Snapchat stories for a month. HOW DO YOU LIVE?!

And most importantly, he has Philadelphia off to a 13-10 start this season, fifth in the East.

“Taj Gibson’s on pace for a career high in rebounds. What have you seen from him that explains how he’s been able to have such a good season despite being older than his jersey number?” – Phil, Anoka

For the record, Gibson wears No. 67 and is 32 years old. I understand math is hard in Anoka.

Gibson has been an absolute beast on the glass, averaging 8.1 rebounds per game. His previous career high was 6.8 back in 2015-16. There’s a lot of reasons for his pick-up in play. The first is fit. He obviously has bought into Coach Thibodeau’s system. That really wasn’t a question to begin with considering they spent time together in Chicago. He’s also playing about five minutes more per game than he had previously in his career.

As far as first-quarter MVPs go, Gibson is probably Minnesota’s. He’s been the most consistent. His offseason signing is definitely looking like a very good one for Thibodeau, Layden and Co.

“Have you been to an Iowa Wolves game yet?  How does the G League differ from the NBA and what do teams look for in G League players that might translate to the NBA game?” – Rick

I have not been to an Iowa Wolves game yet, although I was down there for a logo unveil. Obviously, the skill level is different. The most unique thing about the G-League, though, is that it gives teams a chance to experiment. What if we shot nothing but 3-pointers? What if we started five centers? What if we threw out hot dogs to fans instead of t-shirts? What if we threw out hot dogs wrapped in t-shirts? What if we wrapped t-shirts in hot dogs? Let’s get weird!

A lot of what you’re looking for from a G-League player is defense, grittiness and the ability to shoot the 3-point shot – much like the traits of guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, who is on Minnesota’s roster after spending time last season in the G-League.

“Lots of W’s this season!! Love it when the Wolves are doing that thing!

Do any of the players have superstitions when it comes to winning games?

Jimmy is such an X-Factor!

Ready or not—Wolves are making the playoffs!!”

Lauryn, New Jersey

Someone take the Red Bull away from Lauryn!

  1. When the Wolves win, that is fun. For fans, players, coaches and writers for the team website!
  2. Superstitions? Mmmmm. I don’t know. I’ll get to the bottom of this.
  3. Butler is a huge X-factor. Prime example was Sunday’s win against the Clippers when he scored 20 points in the fourth quarter. Without Butler the Wolves lose that game.
  4. The Wolves are currently 14-11, fifth in the West. Things are looking up! Except for Lauryn in the next two hours. She’s definitely going to crash.

“What have you seen in Tyus’ game that has made him look so much more effective this year in comparison to his first two years?” – Jim, Lakeville

Jones is playing well defensively. He’s never going to be the quickest or strongest, but Jones is extremely smart and is great at reading plays on both sides of the ball. The trust Thibodeau has in Jones has also helped with the former Apple Valley standout playing 17.6 minutes per game.

He’s gotten stronger which has helped. When Jeff Teague was out for four games, Jones filled in brilliantly. In those four games, Jones averaged 11.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and four (!) steals per game. He had a +/- of +13.

“Question about my fellow Nebraskan, Justin Patton. Have there been any updates on his return to the team? Is there a timetable in place?” – Becky, Lincoln, Neb.

Patton, the No. 16 pick in the 2017 draft, was assigned to the Iowa Wolves on Sunday which isn’t a huge surprise with the team heading out of town for the week. It gives him a chance to practice with the G-League squad. He has yet to play a game and we aren’t quite sure when he’ll se the court. I’d imagine he’ll be on some sort of minutes limit to start. But there is no timetable in place.

Thank you for the questions! We’ll be back next week!