Timberwolves Notes: Russell, Edwards, Rubio, Starters

Point guard D’Angelo Russell may be having a down year shooting the ball (.383/.330/.817), but he’s proven to be an essential player for the Timberwolves, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Krawczynski argues that Russell might be the team’s most important player this season due to his unexpected two-way impact — he’s defending with gusto for the first time in his career — and the lack of other play-makers on the roster. 

Krawczynski relays that the 12-15 Wolves, currently the No. 9 seed in the West, are 0-5 without Russell this season — each defeat by double figures. They are a respectable 12-10 when he plays. He writes that Russell’s willingness to shoot creates space for teammates, and his presence on defense has been a boon. Head coach Chris Finch praised Russell’s communication when playing zone defense.

He’s smart, knows where he should be, knows where his teammates should be, so yes, for sure, he can anchor the defense with his voice,” Finch said. “Certainly gives confidence to those guys that they know what’s behind them.”

Here’s more from Minnesota:

  • Second-year wing Anthony Edwards has been in a slump recently, but Finch isn’t alarmed by his drop in efficiency, per Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “He’s just kind of overthinking things,” Finch said. “And as he works through that he’ll come out the other side better and in a better rhythm. I’ve seen it a million times with a lot of guys, and it’s just part of the process. Teams go through it, players go through it.”
  • Although he was upset when it occurred, Ricky Rubio acknowledges that his trade from Minnesota to Cleveland over the summer was for the best, Hine writes in a separate article. “Things didn’t work out for a year over there (Minnesota), so I think we were looking for a change, both of us, at the end of the day,” Rubio said. “It’s something that happened in a way that I didn’t expect, but this is the business that we’re in.”
  • In another piece for the Star Tribune, Hine notes that Minnesota’s starting lineup of Russell, Patrick Beverley, Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Karl-Anthony Towns has proven to be highly effective — when healthy. As Hine observes, the group has the best five-man net rating in the league at +49.6 in 127 minutes.
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