Who should be the Wolves’ go-to scorer?


Successful NBA teams always have at least one guy that steps up when the team needs a big-time shot. Think MJ, Bird, Magic, Steph, LeBron. Even the Timberwolves had prime KG, a man who once laid down a 32 point, 21 rebound line in a playoff Game 7.  A clear ‘No. 1 guy’ simplifies the decision-making process, especially in the last minutes and seconds of the fourth quarter.

Who is that guy on the current version of the Wolves?

It seems like the Wolves have too many options. With plenty of potent scorers on the roster, new head coach Tom Thibodeau has an enviable problem. Towns, LaVine and Wiggins all bring high-end skill sets to the team. Towns has shown the ability to become the Wolves’ best all-around scorer. LaVine can knock down a shot from outside the arc when the team needs it most. Wiggins has made big baskets in the clutch.

NBA executives, writers, and fans all agree that Karl Anthony Towns, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, will be the next face of the franchise. By the end of the 2016–17 campaign, Towns may be one of the best centers—if not, one of the best players—in the NBA. With the many ways in which Towns can score, I could see coach Thibodeau handing the ball to him in clutch situations.

Towns’ ability to score from both the paint and the perimeter makes him a nightmare for opposing defenders. With a full offseason of work, Towns is expected to take a major leap forward in his upcoming sophomore season. As a rookie, Towns already showed the ability to knock down tough shots in the paint and step out beyond the arc to bury key three-pointers. He hit 54.2 percent of his shots from the field, while making three-pointers at a 34.1 percent clip. Towns’ 18.3 points per game fell shy of matching Wiggins’ 20.7 for the team lead, but by the end of season he seemed to have taken over as the Wolves’ primary scoring option. In the Wolves one-point victory over the Trailblazers on April 10, Towns posted the hook shot with 1.8 seconds left that won the game. With the clock ticking down, I could see Towns’ height and skills wreaking havoc on his opponents. I cannot, however, see him being the first option if the Wolves are down by three.
For now, the honor should go to LaVine. LaVine was the Wolves’ best three-point shooter last season; his 38.9 three-point shooting percentage led Wolves’ regulars by almost 5 percent. When he was finally moved to his more natural position at the 2, LaVine really seemed to his stride. In March, he averaged 17.8 points per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field, including a blistering 47.4 percent from deep. He is the best sharpshooter the Wolves have and has proved that he can make threes in the clutch (see the Wizards game when he buried two threes to send the game to double overtime).


LaVine has shown he can do a lot more than convert highlight-reel dunks.  He has the potential to be a 20-points-per-night kind of player. However, his shot selection is sometimes questionable, and he can be prone to shooting slumps that prevent him from finding different ways to maximize his offense.
Even with these limitations, Zach is still the guy you want taking the clutch three-pointer. However, when the Wolves need a two and the pressure is building, Wiggins is probably the best option. When he showed his early-season spin move past Taj Gibson to send the game to a overtime win last year, Wiggins proved he could be a clutch scorer. He may not be the most dependable free-throw shooter; he shot 76.1 percent in 2015-16. Nor is he a dead-eye on three-pointers; he shot only 30.6 percent for the season (although this improved to 39.3 percent in February, March, and April). But Wiggins has found ways to make plays when the Wolves need him the most. He shot 64.8% within three feet, averaged 20.7 points per game, and ended up just outside the top ten in clutch points scored.

Wiggins’ offensive skills may remain a work in progress, but his ceiling remains incredibly high. In the final two months of the 2015–16 season, Wiggins showed signs of his superstar potential. He shot over 50 percent from the field and made his three-pointers at a 39.9 percent clip, hopefully previewing what we will see in the upcoming season.

Wiggins also continued to make big plays in close games. When he scored 32 points , including 15 in the 4th quarter and OT, against Golden State last year in a seven-point victory, he proved he can step up in big games against tough opponents.


Each of the Wolves’ three rising stars—Towns, Lavine, and Wiggins—will be expected to make clutch shots next season. However, Towns stepped up down the stretch and seems to be “the guy.” When the ball is in his hands, Towns’ versatility gives the Wolves an advantage against any opponent.

Towns, LaVine, and Wiggins are invaluable players for the Wolves in 2016–2017. Their combined presence on the court should help push the team back into the playoffs.

So who should be the Wolves go-to scorer?

Maybe Towns. Maybe Lavine. Maybe Wiggins.

Maybe all three. We shall see.

All statistics in this piece are from ESPN and Basketball Reference.

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