The traditional NBA big forward thrives off efficient shotmaking in the painted area, dominates the boards, and protects the rim well. A recent development in the three-point revolution requires these players to be able to switch on smaller matchups. Playing drop coverage and helping on defense allows for better defensive schematics. Wendell Moore Jr. has shown flashes of these skills throughout his NBA Summer League stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves but his shot at a permanent rotation spot may still be questionable.
Minnesota needs a lot more development in the wing position. Their roster is already good with scoring through Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. Rim protection and defense are also departments that the Timberwolves already thrive in because of Naz Reid and Rudy Gobert. All they need is a player that can be plugged into these roles whenever fatigue and injuries strike. They had a real chance of making it past the Denver Nuggets during the 2023 playoffs but their rotation fell short. A comeback could be in the works as they enter a new chapter in trying to push for a deep run for the Larry O'Brien trophy.
Wendell Moore Jr.'s NBA Summer League
The 6-foot-6 small forward out of Duke basketball did not get the luxury of playing time during his first year in Minnesota. He saw the court 29 times during the regular season but only averaged 5.3 minutes per game. It is safe to say that he did not have much time to impact the game as much as he would have wanted to. His three-point shot suffered the most as he only knocked down 11.8% of his attempts from beyond the arc. Although he still possessed his all-around upside, opportunities to showcase them were scarce.
Wendell Moore Jr. got his chance to shine in the NBA Summer League. His minutes were significantly higher as compared to the regular season. He had averaged 22.3 minutes on three games started and played. Wendell knocked down 37.1% of his shots from the three levels of scoring which rewarded him with a 14.3 point per game average.
Defense was also not a problem for him as he navigates through complex offensive systems easily. Spending a year with an NBA team and learning their schematics surely helped him with this aspect of the game. It even notched him a steal per game which helped the Timberwolves create instant offense through fastbreaks.
The drawbacks of the Timberwolves' wing
A lot of his game now revolves around being an inside presence for Minnesota. Defenders know that when he has the ball on the perimeter, they can sag off him and help deny the ball from other stars. He does not have the gravity to pull defenders away and stretch the floor to open up offensive schematics for the Timberwolves. This is all because of his poor 26.5% three-point shooting. He is unable to impact the game without being close to the midrange area or the paint.
Wings in the NBA often need that outside shot in their arsenal. Else, teams can shrink their zone and switch effectively on their players inside the paint or constantly pressure shooters. Wendell Moore Jr. needs to work on his shooting in order for him to fit right in the Timberwolves system. A roster spot may be hard to get at the moment but his NBA Summer League stint proves that there is one thing he needs to work on continuously.