What We Learned From The Timberwolves' 1st Preseason Game

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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The Timberwolves played in their first preseason game of 2019 on Tuesday night against the Suns. 

The game wasn’t televised or on the radio waves. If you happened to find a way to watch, chances are you’re going to download some sort of antivirus software for your device. 

Here are three takeaways from the 111-106 loss. 

Shot Selection Checks Out

We’ve been hearing so much about how the Wolves are going to change up their shot selection this season. The team even put signs on the court telling players how much points, on average, were scored on each shot selection from a certain area on the court.

Of course, you can say one thing in training camp and do something else in actual games. That happens quite frequently in the league. But in their first game, the Wolves held true to their word. Of their 93 shot attempts, 39 came from the 3-point line. 

While the Wolves were dicey from deep, making just eight (20.5 percent), capable shooters like Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Jarrett Culver, Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington went a combined 1-for-16. That’s not going to happen very often.

If you want a thing of beauty, just take a look in the mirror (for self confidence purposes) and then at the Timberwolves’ shot chart from the game. Three-pointers and layups, baby!

This is an encouraging sign that we’re going to see the Wolves play a more modern brand of basketball this season. 

Quick Work For KAT

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns played just 18 minutes in the game, but man, did he put up some numbers. Towns had 19 points (7-for-13 FG, 3-for-8 3P), 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block. 

He was a +19 in the game. Considering Towns is going to be on the court more than he’s not this season, that’s a good sign. 

Per 36 minutes, that’s a 38-point, 20-rebounds and 10-assist game. What in the world.

It’s preseason, I know. But you should be pretty excited to see what Towns is going to do this season. I know I am. Can Towns average 28/14/5? I think so, and he’ll do so efficiently.

If you’ve got a fantasy basketball draft coming up, probably not the worst idea to grab Towns as soon as you can.

Wing Rotation

I was curious going into the game who the fifth starter would be alongside Jeff Teague, Wiggins, Covington and Towns. The obvious options were Josh Okogie (who I predicted in my scouting report), rookie Jarrett Culver or Jake Layman. 

It ended up being Layman, who showed off his athleticism real quick. 

With this team, I’m not sure who starts really means a whole lot. These guys are all going to play solid rotational minutes and add something special. Layman is a fantastic cutter. Okogie is so good defensively. And Culver can play more than one position on both sides of the court.

Layman finished with six points in 16 minutes, Okogie scored eight in 25 minutes, and Culver finished with 11 points in 24 minutes. 

We saw Culver play more point guard, something we were told was going to happen. He was about as you’d expect for a rookie who isn't super familiar with the position. He made some solid plays, but also had four turnovers and no assists.

Don't sleep on Treveon Graham, either. He's someone the Wolves really like on both ends.  

Overall, plenty of positives to takeaway from the team’s first preseason game. Right now, it’s not about the wins and losses. It’s about Coach Ryan Saunders getting his rotation down and for the players to feel comfortable with each other against live competition. 

The Wolves travel to California to play the Warriors on Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. CT on NBATV.

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