As the fifth pick in the 2016 NBA draft, point guard Kris Dunn was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves to be their point guard of the future. Many NBA draft experts and scouts flagged Dunn as the most NBA ready prospect and most mature player in the draft. He played four years at Providence and earned back-to-back Big East Player of the Year Awards in his final two years in college. Dunn was drafted in hopes of eventually starting at point guard and playing alongside the Timberwolves core of small forward Andrew Wiggins, shooting guard Zach LaVine and center Karl-Anthony Towns.
Things have not exactly gone according to plan, as Dunn has had an underwhelming rookie season. Dunn is only seeing 16.7 minutes per game and has struggled with his shot mustering a 37.5 shooting percentage. His net rating is -1.1 and has one of the worst Player Impact Estimate (PIE) ratings on the Timberwolves. Dunn’s PIE is a measly 5.4 which ranks him 13th amongst his teammates. See the table below to see the Timberwolves top five players in terms of PIE.
|Player||Player Impact Estimate (PIE)|
The five players above consist primarily of who you would expect. However, point guard Tyus Jones has found himself amongst the team’s best players in terms of PIE.
Comparative to Dunn, Jones was not regarded as a high-end prospect when entering the 2015 NBA draft and certainly was not considered a top five talent. While a highly recruited player out of high school who played at Duke University, some of the criticism against Jones included that he did not have finishing ability around the rim. He would often resort to floaters when attacking the basket and didn’t possess any elite skill to differentiate himself from the players that were drafted ahead of him.
Jones, unlike Dunn, was not drafted by the current regime of the Timberwolves organization. Dunn was hand selected by head coach Tom Thibodeau, while Dunn was brought to the Timberwolves by late head coach, Flip Saunders. However, Jones has forced Thibodeau’s hand to insert him into the lineup more recently as he has outplayed Dunn. Below is the per 36 minute statistical comparison between Jones and Dunn this season.
Jones makes more of an impact on the game from 4 of the 5 statistical categories above and the coaching staff has obviously taken notice. From the start of the season through January, Jones averaged 10.1 minutes per game and logged 21 DNPs. In the months of February and March, Jones’ average minutes have spiked to 17.9 and has only had one DNP in that timeframe. Thibodeau has even found way to play Jones in line-ups that feature him alongside Rubio or Dunn.
From a Timberwolves fan’s perspective, Dunn has obviously disappointed and many fans have been clamoring for Jones to play more since early in the season. While it might not have been originally intended, those clamoring fans may get their wish, as Jones is becoming a fixture in the rotation. Jones has hit signatures shots late in games and pushes the pace similar to Rubio. As the Timberwolves charge for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Jones should play an integral role as Dunn is clearly still developing as an NBA player.
Logan Metzger is a contributor to HowlinTwolf.com. Follow him on Twitter: @loganmetzger33