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Jake Layman Was Limited In 1st Season With Wolves, But It's Easy To See How Well He Fits
SF | 6’8, 209 lbs
2019-20 season: 23 games, 2 starts, 22.0 MPG, 9.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 45.3 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 75.0 FT%
Jake Layman was sold as an athletic, savvy off-ball cutter whose efficiency improved with experience when the Timberwolves acquired him in a sign-and-trade deal with the Portland Trail Blazers in July of 2019.
That advertisement proved to be true, but unfortunately, Layman was only able to showcase his potential for 23 games of the 64-game season.
Layman went down with a toe injury during the Wolves’ Nov. 20 game against the Utah Jazz and didn’t return to the lineup until Feb. 24, missing 41 straight games.
Layman had scored 16 or more points in three of the final five games before his injury and was shooting 60% from the field and 47.1% from behind the arc during that stretch.
We’ll never know what levels Layman could have taken his game to had he been healthy for the entire season or what his presence would have done for the Wolves’ success. But we sure know what the Wolves were missing while Layman was sidelined.
Layman could come off the bench and exert energy into the Wolves’ offense by slashing to the basket or creating his own shot from the perimeter where he was shooting 35.7% on above-the-break 3s. That’s not exactly where the Wolves would like to see Layman’s 3-point shooting splits in the future. However, Layman did shoot a career-high 33.3% from beyond the arc in his first season with the Wolves, which was a slight improvement from his 2018-19 season with Portland in which he shot 32.6% from deep. All progression is good progression.
Layman not only stretched the floor for players like Karl-Anthony Towns as he posed as a threat beyond the arc, but he also swung the ball on the perimeter as the Wolves’ offensive system called for and could complete a quick dish in the paint to a teammate when he wasn’t going up for an explosive dunk himself.
Layman wasn’t known for his defensive abilities before coming to Minnesota, but he showed promise at the rim where he recorded a 1.3% block percentage, which landed him in the 85th percentile of the league’s forwards. Opponents shot 38.5% against Layman in the paint (non-restricted area).
It expectedly took some time for Layman to find his rhythm when he returned from his injury in late February, but he began to get in a groove in the final three games of the season in which he averaged 11.3 points in 17.9 minutes per game. He left us excited for what’s yet to come with his most monstrous dunk of the season in the Wolves’ home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Layman has presented us with plenty to be excited about, but his game will be even more intriguing if he polishes his handle over the offseason and becomes a stronger finisher in the restricted area where he shot just over 60% (down from 73.8% in the 2018-19 season).
The 2019-20 season was a challenging one for Layman, and yet, he still managed to show growth in his game. Hence, it’s reasonable to believe we have yet to see the best of Jake Layman.