The Minnesota Timberwolves went into the 2024 NBA trade deadline with the intention of improving an already great roster. By agreeing to a deal with the Detroit Pistons to acquire guard Monte Morris, the Timberwolves added a dose of extra playmaking and shooting on the perimeter.

After his first three games with the team, Morris was able to ramp up his conditioning and further adjust to playing in Minnesota during the All-Star break. After five games with the team, now is a good time to evaluate the early returns on Morris’ play thus far.

Monte Morris’ immediate impact

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Monte Morris (23) shoots as Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton (24) defends during the second half at Target Center.
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In his first five games with the Timberwolves, Morris’ minutes have varied quite a bit. The veteran guard logged 18 minutes in his first game with the team and scored five points to go along with two rebounds and two assists. Morris played just 12 minutes in his next contest and shot 0-3 from the field on the second night of a back-to-back. In the final game before the All-Star break, Morris had his best game with the Wolves so far.

His third game with the team resulted in an impressive 5-8 shooting night as he scored 12 points in just 15 minutes of play. Morris asserted himself into the game with good scoring aggression, something coach Chris Finch has said Minnesota will need from him. Despite getting some time off with the break, Morris’ in-game impact has been mild so far.

Over his past two games, Morris has scored a total of 10 points and dished out five assists in that stretch. In his first five games, Morris is averaging 5.4 points, 2.4 assists while shooting 44.0% from the floor. Despite small counting stats, the Wolves have gotten key contributions from Morris at times. Most specifically, Morris played a pivotal stretch in a near-comeback against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Monte Morris and Mike Conley duo

Behind that excellent start to the fourth quarter was the combination of Morris and Mike Conley. The Wolves’ two point guards are both smaller than the NBA standard, but that hasn’t stopped coach Finch from playing them together. Despite mixed results so far, the combination breeds some strong positives that Minnesota needs.

First of all, having two trustworthy playmakers on the court is a huge benefit for Minnesota. This season, the Timberwolves average the sixth most turnovers in the league, but the infusion of Morris and Conley together will likely limit the giveaways. In addition to improved ball security, Minnesota will likely find an infusion of pace into their offense.

Two guards capable of pushing the tempo gives their transition offense a few added boosts. First of all, the Wolves will be able to outlet the ball quicker having two outlet options. Following these outlets, the Wolves now have two guards who get on and off the ball quickly.

When the Minnesota's offense struggles, typically the ball stops moving. With two playmaking guards sharing the court, it’s much less likely we see the offense turn to a stand-still isolation attack.

Conley shares his confidence in Morris

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10) reacts after scoring a basket during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum.
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Adding Morris to the roster has given Conley and the rest of an offense a boost. The fellow point guard is comfortable playing next to the trade acquisition and is confident in Morris' success, he told ClutchPoints.

“Between Monte and [Jordan McLaughlin], when we have multiple playmakers, point guards out there, we start, just running and pushing the ball,” Conley said. “As a point guard, you love that. You’ve got other guys who can do what you do, see what you see.”

In addition to having another player who can run the show, Conley also sees the benefit of the two guards sharing the court.

“When we’ve got that group out there, we’re just trying to be a team that plays with pace, plays off each other,” Conley continued. “Having Monte, who can pretty much do anything on the court, we’re going to have plenty of runs that get us back in games or push the lead.”

With Minnesota in contention for the one seed in the Western Conference, Finch will be able to go to Morris as a spark-plug off the bench who is capable of knocking down shots and initiating their offense. The more ball-handlers the better come playoff time.