Minnesota at Sacramento
Time: 9 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: SAC -2
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Minnesota Timberwolves have lost 11 straight games entering tonight’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings host as 2-point favorites at 9 PM (CST) on NBA League Pass, and the over/under is set at 227 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
MINNESOTA news & notes:
The Minnesota Timberwolves enter tonight’s game with a 15-33 mark, though it is still in last place in the Northwest Division and there is a real sense Minnesota may be active at the trade deadline.
Part of the problem for the T -Wolves is a lot of roster instability. Despite having just one true point guard on its roster, in Jeff Teague,The Wolves dealt Teague for Allan Crabbe. It was mildly surprising to see the Wolves make the move so soon. It means that it will essentially hand the playmaking duties off to star swingman Andrew Wiggins and its promising first and second-year guards.
Instead, Saunders has now turned to second-year 2-guard Josh Okogie and rookie swingman Jarrett Culver to handle most of the point duties. Andrew Wiggins, too, has seen an increase in his playmaking. But the overall results of this simply have not been good, Minnesota is struggling to get any of its scorers going other than Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins.
Towns averages 26.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.3 blocks/steals per game, while posting the best PER of any Wolf at 28.41. Gorgui Dieng has been filling in for Towns and playing amazing. He could eventually be trade bait, though Dieng is signed for over $17 million through next season. He figures to at least have earned his way into the rotation with the way he has played.
Wiggins is having a career year and breaking out, but his 24.1 points and 5.4 rebounds still have not been enough. Teague check-in as the No. 3 scorer, but he still sees under 30 minutes per game, and the Wolves have to get more offense out of both Okogie and Culver, who combine to average just about 17.2 points per game. Ideally, that figure should be over 20. Minnesota still averages 111.8 points per game, but it has the league’s 4th-worst defense which allows opponents 114.4 points per game. Over the last 10 games, though, Minnesota has posted a defensive rating of roughly 95, which is far better. It could be that Dieng is part of the reason, but it seems by the eye test to be a very collective effort.
It does not seem as though Minnesota is playing to its true potential, because, on paper, this roster seems to spell .500, but the Wolves are a good bit below that as the midway point of the season nears.
The Sacramento Kings are just 18-31 on the season, but the team has dealt with some injuries, and as usual, plenty of underachievement. Sacramento is again probably going to miss the postseason, which has been the case for the past decade-plus for a team that never manages to achieve the potential it seems to have on paper.
Credit injuries to its starting point guard DeAaron Fox and starting center Marvin Bagley for a lot of this failure. Fox has played in just half the games, and Bagley had missed all but one, through the first 20, but he is back albeit not quite in full-form.
That duo really is supposed to represent the cornerstone talents, along with Buddy Hield, and Sacto cannot manage to get all even on the court together this season. Hield has certainly thrived and is a borderline emerging star at shooting guard, though probably still a tier away from being an All-Star, particularly since he starts on a sub-.500 team.
Richaun Holmes has looked nice after not showing a ton his first five NBA seasons, and his emergence forced the Kings into an awkward situation of starting two true bigs at the 4/5 positions. While Holmes has continued to break out, the result has still been more consistent losing. Holmes is averaging 13.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in just under 30 minutes a night. Holmes then went down with an injury too, and he has been out several weeks. Nothing manages to go right in Sacramento.
Harrison Barnes is having a solid season as a King, and Bodgan Bogdanovic is a solid shooter, but the Kings are lacking the transcendental talents that would make Fox really succeed as the team’s leader in the backcourt. Fox averages seven assists per game, and one can only sense that figure as deflated on a team that is managing to muster just 44 percent shooting.
The Kings are attempting 35.4 threes per game and knocking down a solid 33.9 percent, but the scoring issues persist on a team managing just 105.9 points per game. The Kings need health first, but even a healthy roster this year still sees the Kings strike out on a postseason appearance once again.