Who Needs to Step Up in Towns' Absence?

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Swinger (USA TODAY Sports)

After a great 2-0 start, the Minnesota Timberwolves received a flurry of bad news on Sunday night.

The first, shortly before tipoff against the Los Angeles Lakers, was that star center Karl-Anthony Towns would be out indefinitely with a wrist injury. It’s the same left wrist that he broke last season. It’s worth noting that Towns did not break his wrist again — he did suffer a dislocation and will be evaluated weekly.

Towns suffered the injury late in Saturday’s win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

When I worked for the Timberwolves, it was quite common for someone who was “day-to-day” to actually be “week-to-week.”

That means “week-to-week” probably isn’t great.

It’s not fair to speculate, but I would expect Towns to be out for a good chunk of time. That’s a shot in the gut for a team with playoff aspirations in a shortened season. More importantly, you feel for Towns, who has gone through absolute hell this year. Mentally, I hope his support system is there for him.

What does this mean for the Wolves on the court?

It means we’ll see more of Naz Reid and Ed Davis. It also means that D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Anthony Edwards will be relied upon more to score. That also goes for Juancho Hernangomez, who somehow has only scored six points all season.

If Towns is out for more than a month, that’s about 18 games or about a quarter of the schedule. It’s not inconceivable that the Timberwolves can hang onto playoff hopes until Towns comes back, but we’ll find out in a hurry. During the upcoming stretch, the Wolves play playoff-fringe teams like the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans once, and the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors twice.

Third-year wing Josh Okogie also suffered what appeared to be a hamstring injury against the Lakers. While it didn’t look good, the team listed him as day-to-day with cramps and it’s not known how long he’ll be out for. That’s a big hit as well for this team. Okogie is the team’s heart and soul defensively. They will rely on Edwards and Jarrett Culver in Okogie’s absence. The good news is that those two look completely capable of carrying that torch, at least for the short term.

Minnesota agreed to pick up the rookie contract options for Okogie and Culver, per Darren Wolfson. No surprises there. The surprise is probably how well Culver has looked this season. Maybe we should have expected that given how highly people thought about Culver going into the draft. But dumb people (like me!) gave up on Culver prematurely.

Jarrett. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

Edward For Rookie Of The Year?

We don’t get very many nice things being Timberwolves’ followers, so of course I’m going to write about the Rookie of the Year race three games into the season.

Right now, it looks like a two-man race between Edwards and James Wiseman. Just for good measure, we’ll throw in LaMelo Ball, too.

Here’s how the three stack up:

Edwards: 25.3 MPG, 16 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 42.2 FG%, 23.5 3P%

Wiseman: 24 MPG, 14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 46.9 FG%, 83.3 3P%

Ball: 17 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 33.3 FG%, 40 3P%

If Edwards were in a bigger market, people would be freaking out right now. I have a feeling this race will probably continue to feature Edwards and Wiseman. Maybe Ball has the highest ceiling long-term, but it’s tough to see him making the leaps he needs to this season to make a real run for the award.

Up Next:

Before we next chat, the Wolves will play the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday on the road before hosting the Washington Wizards on Friday and Denver Nuggets on Sunday. If they can go 1-2, is that a win? It feels like it without Towns.

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Photo Credit: Jeffrey Swinger (USA TODAY Sports)

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