What Wendell Moore Jr. brings to the Minnesota Timberwolves

Discuss an unparalleled faculty basketball expertise.

As a freshman at Duke in the course of the 2019-20 season, Wendell Moore Jr. was a spot starter for a staff poised to be a prime three seed within the NCAA Event… earlier than it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next season, Moore’s sophomore 12 months, Duke bottomed out in an enormous approach, lacking March Insanity for the primary time for the reason that mid-Nineteen Nineties. Months later got here the bombshell information: legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski could be retiring after the subsequent season, Moore’s junior 12 months. That left Moore, a 20-year-old, not simply as a captain and key contributor for Krzyzewski’s final staff, however as one of many few “veteran” gamers for the Blue Devils – regardless of by no means having performed a second within the NCAA Event.

And but, Moore responded, main Duke to the Ultimate 4 whereas concurrently successful the Julius Erving Small Ahead of the 12 months Award. That mixture of staff and particular person success – regardless of his circuitous faculty profession – is what compelled Moore to finally enter this summer time’s NBA Draft, the place he was chosen No. 26 and ended up with Minnesota after a draft-night commerce.

“I tip my hat to Wendell,” says Duke affiliate head coach Chris Carrawell. “He did not rush the method.”

The outcome was regular progress over the course of three years. A big a part of that was athletically, the place Carrawell and Duke’s employees thought there was extra that Moore (no pun supposed) might get out of his physique. “I stated, look man, you had one dunk this 12 months? And that was on a breakaway; that does not actually matter, and you need to dunk that, ”Carrawell jokes. “So we thought he needed to change into extra explosive, faster.” To try this, Moore labored with Duke’s energy and sports activities science staffs – together with utilizing Catapult expertise employed by a number of NBA groups – to boost his athleticism. That translated instantly into altering Moore’s gait, which in flip modified how rapidly he ran, how excessive he jumped, and the way he might transfer across the courtroom with out expending as a lot vitality.

From there, the interpretation to manufacturing was apparent. Moore averaged 13.4 factors, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals per recreation this season, simply one of the best marks of his profession. Simply as necessary had been his surges as a shooter; Moore hit 41.3 % of his 3s, 80.5 % of his free throws, and maintained an efficient field-goal share of 56.9 %, per KenPom. “The pictures he was passing up – wide-open pictures – his first couple of years, he was taking pictures (final season),” Carrawell says. “He was knocking them down with no hesitation. Normally if he missed his first 3-point shot his freshman or sophomore 12 months, he could be hesitant (the subsequent time), and catch it and put it on (the ground). Now it was identical to he stored firing away. ”

Level being, Moore’s athletic items lastly got here collectively in a approach that was instantly correlated on the courtroom – and contributed instantly to successful. However as Carrawell alluded to, Moore’s enhanced bodily instruments additionally enabled him to develop mentally, the place he might deal with the stress of being a frontrunner on Coach Okay’s last staff and for one of many largest manufacturers in faculty basketball.

So, what does all of it imply for the Timberwolves? A few issues. For starters, provided that he performed with 4 different draft picks this season, Moore clearly is comfy taking part in – and becoming in – alongside different high-end abilities. That mindset confirmed up on the courtroom, too, the place he was requested to perform a little little bit of the whole lot. Moore did not play level guard, for instance, however usually acted as a secondary ballhandler, which is how he ended up ending with one of the best help charge on the staff, per KenPom. That was doable partly as a result of Duke did not have a real lead guard, but in addition as a result of Moore has a robust sufficient deal with and adequate courtroom imaginative and prescient to arrange his teammates. By way of his particular person offensive utilization, about half of Moore’s possessions got here by way of transition or spot-up alternatives, per Synergy, however he was environment friendly with each, averaging higher than one level per possession (PPP). It wasn’t out of the query, within the span of a single recreation, for Moore to take somebody off the dribble within the halfcourt, shoot over them from the nook, run previous them in transition, and lower behind them for a simple layup . One thing, one thing, full bundle.

Then defensively, at 6-foot-5 and 216 kilos – however with a 7-foot wingspan – Moore might realistically guard any place one by 4, and often was requested to defend the opponent’s greatest perimeter participant. His steals had been partial proof of that, however he additionally registered simply 1.9 fouls dedicated per 40 minutes, per KenPom, and was prime 20 in that respect in ACC play.

Put all of it collectively, from the longer-term progress to the flexibility on each side of the ball, and you’ve got the makings of a super position participant on the subsequent stage. In reality, Carrawell sees loads of similarities to a different former ACC star with nearly similar bodily measurables:

“I’ve at all times in contrast him to Malcolm Brogdon, ”Carrawell says. “Simply the massive guard. When Brogdon acquired the professionals and was Rookie of the 12 months and made some huge cash, I feel… they’re form of the identical to me. ”

If Brogdon’s profession arc – from second-round choose, to starter, to $ 85 million-dollar man – is any indicator of what is to come back for Moore, TWolves followers ought to completely hope Carrawell’s comparability performs out.

(Photograph: Robert Deutsch / USA Immediately)

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