Tyus Jones has proven he is a capable starter for the Timberwolves

Tyus Jones has proven he is a capable starter for the Timberwolves


Tyus Jones has proven he is a capable starter for the Timberwolves

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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones played well during the absence of veteran Jeff Teague, who missed some time with a sprained MCL.

While numbers indicate Jones fits better than Teague with the starting unit, it’s unlikely that Tom Thibodeau makes this decision (via Star Tribune):

“Jeff has been around a long time, and Jeff has done a lot of winning. That’s probably the most important thing.”

But perhaps they should make a change because Minnesota has outscored its opponents by 22.2 points per 100 possessions when Jones is in the starting lineup. Similarly, the five-man lineup that features Jones with Karl-Anthony TownsTaj GibsonJimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins has a league-best net rating.

Wiggins has averaged 20.3 points per 36 minutes when playing with Jones, but 17.5 points per 36 without him. Butler has averaged 6.49 assists per 36 alongside Jones, but 4.2 assists per 36 when the guard is not on the floor.

Even though Wiggins has a career three-point percentage (32.9 percent) that is actually below the league average, he is shooting well (42.9 percent) after he has received passes from Jones so far this season. For comparison, he is shooting far worse (34 percent) after passes from Teague.

This has helped him become of the most productive players in the league in regards to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus:

One reason both Wiggins and Butler have better numbers playing with Jones is that the young player does not require the same usage rate as Teague. His usage rate (12.3 percent) allows the two offensive stars to have the ball in their hands and play off each other.

Teague has a usage rate (20 percent) that requires him to be more involved in the offense. Normally this would not be a problem, but the two wings have been more productive when they run the offense off each other.

The two point guards have both averaged approximately the same number of passes made per 36 minutes for Minnesota this season. Teague, however, has received around 10 additional passes per 36.

When he does have the ball, he has taken good care of the rock. His assist-to-turnover rate is the third-best in the league among those who have played at least 18 minutes per game.

Jones also leads a much faster style for the squad than the 29-year-old. He ranks No. 2 overall in the team in average speed (4.50 MPH) while Teague is the slowest (3.85 MPH) for the Timberwolves.

Among those who have played as many minutes, only two players (Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins) have recorded a slower average speed on offense.This forces the players around Jones to keep their energy up while the ones around Teague are a bit less urgent.

On the other side of the ball, meanwhile, Jones has the best defensive rating on the team. Over the last 15 games, he has been one of the best overall defenders in the league among high-volume contributors.

Opposing players are shooting significantly worse on both three-point attempts and shots from beyond 15 feet of the rim. His steal rate (33.3 percent) ranks No. 5 overall among those who have played as many minutes so far this season.

Overall, his defensive numbers via ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus are the second-best among point guards.

Jones has shown he is very valuable. It’s unclear what his future will look like in Minnesota considering Teague is also under contract for next season with a player option in the year after that, but the 21-year-old is a legitimate asset for the Timberwolves.

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