What You Need To Know About New Timberwolves Forward Omari Spellman
Have you processed the Timberwolves’ trade deadline moves yet?
After the deadline passed at 2 p.m. CT on Thursday, the Wolves only retained two players who were on their roster when President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas took over in May of 2019.
Try not to get too overwhelmed, because the fun is just getting started.
Chances are you’ve scrolled past and hopefully clicked on a few links about the Wolves landing All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell, but don’t let the remaining assets the Wolves gained in the trade that sent Andrew Wiggins to Golden State get lost in the shuffle.
Attached to the D-Lo for Wiggins trade were Minnesota’s 2021 protected first-round pick and second-round pick along with Golden State’s Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman. We’ll touch on Evans in a separate post, but this article is dedicated to welcoming Spellman to Minnesota.
You might remember Spellman, the power forward, from the 2018 NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament in which he starred as a do-it-all big man who helped Villanova earn its second national title. Since then, Spellman was drafted No. 30 overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2018 draft but only spent one season with the Hawks before being traded to Golden State in a deal that brought Damian Jones and the Warriors’ 2026 second-round draft pick to the Peach State.
Spellman only appeared in 46 games with the Hawks during his rookie season and averaged 5.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists on an average of 17.5 minutes per night. Those numbers improved in his 49 games with the Warriors. That could be because of 55 pounds he lost after being acquired by Golden State.
In the Bay Area, Spellman averaged 7.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists and 18.1 minutes per game and saw his 3-point shooting percentage rise from 34.4 percent with the Hawks to 39.1 percent with the Warriors. The 6’9” second-year player even held down the fort as center for the Warriors on a couple of occasions, and his fit with the team had some believing he’d be a long-term piece for Golden State.
Not so fast.
Here’s a look at what Spellman brings to the Wolves’ table.
Another 3-Point Shooting Big
You can’t properly describe the Wolves’ new system that Rosas and head coach Ryan Saunders are implementing without mentioning an emphasis in 3-point shooting.
As they’ve rolled out that system for the first season, the Wolves have averaged 39.4 3-point attempts per game, good for third-most in the league. Last season, the finished 26th with 28.7 3PAs per game. That’s quite the jump.
The Wolves have committed to adding players who’re ready to let it fly from deep while parting ways with those whose outside shooting was clouded by hesitation and inaccuracy. Spellman fits that mold.
Back when Spellman was a Wildcat back in 2018, Villanova shot the second-most 3-pointers in college ball. Spellman shot the fourth-most on his team, averaged 3.8 per game and had the second-best 3-point percentage of 43.3 only behind Mikal Bridges’ 43.5.
His attempts and percentage (2.8, 34.4 percent, respectively) dropped his first year in the league but rose once he joined the 3-point loving Warriors. In Golden State, Spellman averaged 2.2 3PAs per game and shot 39.1 percent from deep. In January, he attempted 50 3s and made 46 percent of them. That’s music to Rosas’ and Saunders’ ears.
Willingness To Do It All
While watching a big man like Spellman pop 3s is entertaining, I think my favorite part of his game is his willingness to do the little things that don’t get as much recognition as outside shooting.
Spellman has great on-court awareness for someone with such little experience in the league. He knows how to and where to set a screen, get a sneaky quick pick-and-pop look, seal off his defender on the roll or set up his ball handler with a discrete hand-off.
His footwork is clean, his release is quick and he’s a proponent of basket cuts. He continues to check the boxes as a system fit.
Desire To Win
I know how different the NBA is from college ball, but helping your team become national champions means something.
All NBA players want to win; that goes without saying. But not all players are willing to hold their teammates accountable when the losses stack up. Even as a newbie in the Warriors, locker room, Spellman wasn’t such player.
The Warriors were on an eight-game losing streak in mid-January, and although Spellman was personally playing well at the time, he took it upon himself to call out his and his teammates’ lack of effort and “no intensity.”
That type of initiative from a young player will surely be welcomed in the Wolves’ locker room.