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What Does The Allen Crabbe Trade Mean For The Timberwolves?

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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On Thursday, the Timberwolves and Hawks made themselves a deal.

The Wolves traded Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham in exchange for guard Allen Crabbe. 

A quick introduction to Crabbe: 

Crabbe was the 31st-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft out of California. He was traded to the Blazers on draft night. 

Crabbe, a shooting guard, played four seasons in Portland and emerged onto the scene in 2015-16 when he averaged 10.3 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from the 3-point line. A year later, he shot 44.4 percent from deep. He spent 2017-18 and 2018-19 with the Nets, averaging 11.9 points per game during that stretch. Crabbe played 28 games for the Hawks this season and is averaging 5.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. 

There’s a lot to unpack here. What does this trade mean for the Wolves?  

Let’s take a look at three storylines that I find interesting with this trade. 

Getting A Shooter

The best shooter in this trade is Crabbe, and it’s not particularly close. Crabbe is a career 38.9 percent 3-point shooter. We’re just two years removed from Crabbe having back-to-back 37.8 percent seasons on six-plus attempts per game. In 2016-17, Crabbe shot 44.4 percent from deep, a mark that ranked second in the NBA behind only Kyle Korver.

With Gersson Rosas in charge, this is a team with a system built around the 3-point shot. Minnesota is shooting 39 3-pointers per game, a mark that ranks third in the NBA. 

We don’t know where Crabbe will fit in this rotation (likely coming off the bench), but he immediately becomes the best shooting wing on the team. 

Graham was shooting just 24.1 percent from the 3-point line this season and Teague, while shooting 37.9 percent from deep, always seemed a bit hesitant to pull the trigger when open.  

While it may seem like Crabbe has been around for a while, he’s still only 27 years old and he is now in a system that he’s familiar with, which brings us to . . .  

Connections 

There are a lot of connections here, which means there were plenty of people in the Timberwolves’ organization who vouched for Crabbe not only as player, but as a person, before this deal was done. I don’t want to get too far down the you have to have good guys hole here, but it’s important for a team like the Timberwolves to build an identity of having the right guys to build each other up and go from there. It feels like Crabbe fits that mold.  

Let’s go down the list here. 

David Vanterpool – Vanterpool is the associate head coach of the Timberwolves after seven seasons with the Blazers. From 2013-2017, Vanterpool worked with Crabbe in Portland. While we haven’t asked about the specifics of their relationship, it’s probably fair to think their relationship is strong considering the fact that it seems like Vanterpool has a strong relationship with every player he’s worked with. 

Pablo Prigioni – Prigioni is the de facto offensive coordinator for the Timberwolves. He spent last season as an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. Crabbe, along with Graham and Shabazz Napier ironically, was also a member of the Nets. On a recent call, Rosas said that both Vanterpool and Prigioni spoke very fondly of Crabbe.

Shabazz Napier – This will actually be the third time that Crabbe and Napier will be teammates. Wild times. The two spent 2016-17 in Portland together and last season in Brooklyn. 

Jake Layman – Layman and Allen were both Blazers in 2016-17.

Noah Vonleh – Vonleh and Allen were teammates with the Blazers in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Does this familiarity mean Crabbe is going to come in and light the nets on fire? No, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

What Does This Mean For Andrew Wiggins?

While the Wolves certainly could add another point guard to their roster at some point, it seems for now that Napier will be the lead point guard, and after that, who knows? If I had to guess, that will mean Andrew Wiggins will see more time as a primary ball-handler – a place where Wiggins found success earlier this season. 

Having Teague go to the bench in the first place was forced because of Wiggins playing so well at point guard. With Wiggins out for illness during a stretch, Napier played so well that coach Ryan Saunders was put in a tough spot, so he started them both. While the two will probably still start alongside one another, look for their minutes to be staggered a bit moving forward.

Crabbe’s first chance to play for the Wolves will be on Friday night against the Pacers in Indiana. 

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