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Wolves survive toughest stretch of schedule

From January 5 to February 7, the Timberwolves played 18 games, nine of which were on the road. Losing to Brooklyn on January 3 was considered such a missed opportunity because the team was going to start playing tougher teams, many in their own conference. Many expected this stretch to determine whether or not this team was for real.

The Wolves managed to drub the Cavaliers and slip past the Raptors. Yet, they also dropped winnable games to the Hawks and Magic. They managed to win as many as five in a row but never lost more than two consecutive games. Overall, they went 10-8 in those 18 games.

One of the most concerning trends of the season continued. The Timberwolves have struggled on the road, going 1-8 during this time. Losing on the road to the Warriors and Blazers is understandable. And they had to travel from Atlanta to Toronto, which was a schedule loss. At some point in the season, it would be encouraging to see them consistently beat lottery teams on the road. Otherwise, they better work to earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

However, this does not mean the Wolves are out of the woods in February. As of Monday, they held a 2.5-game lead over the Thunder. They play the Rockets twice, once at home and on the road. Looking into early March, the Wolves will play Boston, Golden State, San Antonio, Washington, and Houston in a row. That goes without mentioning the road trip to play the Blazers.

There will be chances to gain wins after that but taking care of business now could mean more rest down the stretch as the team solidifies their playoff positioning.

 

Don’t expect much out of Justin Patton’s call up

Not much has been heard from Timberwolves rookie Justin Patton since his last call-up in December. That’s OK. Sometimes no news is good news because it means no setback. If anything Patton has done well. In 26 games, he’s averaged 11.9 points on 51.9 percent shooting, five rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. Not too shabby for a player playing a little over 20 minutes per game.

The team announced on Monday that Patton was recalled.

The Iowa Wolves have a 10-day break and the team wants to use this opportunity to get him around the team. Being able to practice and get another taste for the NBA routine will be good for Patton. Meanwhile, he can hone and refine his game down in Iowa.

However, don’t expect him to play much. It’s difficult for any rookie to crack the rotation of a playoff team. It’s especially difficult for a rookie who has missed 50-plus games of his team’s season. Getting Patton up to speed and on an NBA court isn’t likely unless there are sudden depth issues or the team locks in its playoff position early. That’s not based on any inside knowledge but just years of seeing how teams operate.

This could still be beneficial. While Patton isn’t the same level of prospect, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were around the Sixers for a season or two, respectively. By the time they did play, they hit the floor running. There is only so much you can learn from watching but Patton can still absorb how to prepare for games and be a professional basketball player.

Random Timberwolf in History: Tellis Frank

Tellis Frank became a star in his Senior season at Western Kentucky University. After averaging 18 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, the Golden State Warriors made Frank the 14th overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft.

The Warriors leaned on Frank heavily for the 1988 season. He started 29 games, playing in 79 overall, and averaged 20.5 minutes per game. On a hapless, 20-win Warriors team, Frank shot just 42.8 percent from the field. This was concerning for a 6’10” power forward.

In 1989, it seemed the Warriors were ready to move on. Frank appeared in just 32 games and averaged 7.7 minutes per game. His shooting plummeted even further to 37.8 percent. Frank was dealt to Miami for a second round pick where he would finish the 1990 season before being waived.

Unable to land another NBA gig, Frank went to Italy where he won a title with Phonola Caserta in 1991. Enter the Timberwolves. Frank would play two seasons with the Timberwolves, where he would post the best production of his career. He finally got his shot to fall at the NBA level, too. After playing in Minnesota in1992, Frank returned to Italy before returning for the 1994 NBA season.

Frank would leave the NBA for good after 1994 where he played until 2001 in Italy. Like many, Frank was unable to make an NBA career happen but still found a way to have a long career playing basketball professionally. His 77 games in Minnesota brought some of his highest efficiency, rebounding and more.

Following his retirement, Frank spent some time as an assistant coach with the WNBA’s Atlanta Drewam.





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