Wendell Moore Jr. does not have a direct path to playing time with the Minnesota Timberwolves this year, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a part of this team’s development contingency and future. We have seen the rise of the G-League as an essential tool for developing young talent. It allows them to get playing time while sticking with the main roster.
The Wolves find themselves in a position where they have Taurean Prince non-guaranteed next season, Jaylen Nowell becoming an unrestricted free agent, and Bryn Forbes and Austin Rivers on expiring contracts. That offers a direct spot for Wendell to potentially slot in, keeping a player around the system before going outside to free agency to acquire a new player.
Wolves players have used this pathway in the past.
- Nowell played 26 games his rookie season, scoring 21 points per game on 49.2/43.6/73.3 splits.
- Jordan McLaughlin has 62 career games over 2 seasons, averaging 15.6 points per game and 5.4 assists.
- Naz Reid spent most of his rookie campaign playing 16 games, averaging 18.4 points per game and 10 rebounds per game.
These are just three examples of Minnesota’s rotational players who spent crucial developmental time in the G League with the Iowa Wolves.
Across the NBA, the G-League has carved out careers for more raw prospects. It gave them the security of the NBA level while still being able to play lesser competition, while still having the
Wendell Moore had an interesting Duke career, playing three seasons in almost every role. Not to mention the amount of turnover Duke traditionally has with players transferring and electing for the draft. With this opportunity, the Wolves will have much more ability to mold him into the player they want. Wendell could get more on-ball reps, allowing him to develop more as a secondary ball-handler and a facilitator.
He was able to show the ability to attack the rim and the mid-range this past season. He could also finish around the rim as a cutter if he needs to. While shooting splits may not be as much of a focus if he gets the time, pressuring Wendell to keep his shot volume should be more vital to gain more of a sample size to judge from.
Summer League was a good test for him, but the biggest issue is how those games were played. They are like an open run with no true offensive flow, lots of isolation ball, and sloppy basketball in general. It didn’t highlight Moore’s strengths because he was on the outside in for half of the games, but he showed some flashes of what he can do. Wendell should benefit from the more structured G-League play, giving the Wolves a better idea of how NBA-ready he is.
The Timberwolves traded back in the first round to take Moore and Walker Kessler. They sent Kessler to the Utah Jazz in the Rudy Gobert trade, but they can turn Moore into a contributor by sending him down to the G-League for 10 to 20 games. That will make him more comfortable with the NBA game and pace. It will also give him consistent competition outside team runs and workouts and an equal chance to be a more significant part of the team moving forward.