Can Monte Morris Cure Minnesota Timberwolves’ Playmaking, Maturity Problems?

Monte Morris
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While he may not have the career accomplishments of Mike Conley, Monte Morris has the potential to be a significant addition to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It may have been unexpected for some when the year began, but the Wolves have been one of the best teams in the NBA since the season tipped off, and now they’re adding another skillset to fill a key role down the stretch.

Just because head coach Chris Finch has gotten better production from largely the same cast of talent that was on hand a year ago, doesn’t mean this Timberwolves team is without flaws, as we’ve seen recently.

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After losing two of their past three and six of their past 15 games, the Timberwolves’ struggles have become very real. But now, more help is on the way after GM Tim Connelly traded for Morris. Yet, can a player who’s arriving from one of the NBA’s worst teams actually help one of the NBA’s best?

Why Timberwolves Felt Adding a Point Guard Was a Must

chris finch shocked face minnesota timberwolves
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Heading into the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline, reports of the Minnesota Timberwolves seeking another point guard or another shooter dominated the airwaves. Teams can never have enough shooters, so that’s nearly a need for everyone. But another point guard? This has been a major talking point for the Timberwolves for several seasons now.

Even though he’s set for free agency after the year ends, Mike Conley is entrenched as the starting point guard in Minnesota. Both sides would reportedly welcome a contract extension this offseason, but the Timberwolves’ salary cap situation could create difficulties in offering Conley a large contract.

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Behind Conley, or even as the 36-year-old vet comes closer to retirement, then what? Before the Morris trade, the Timberwolves’ backup point guard duties fell on the shoulders of Jordan McLaughlin, a former undrafted player who’s undersized but also very well-liked by this coaching staff.

But teams need more than just two capable ball handlers, in addition to the various others who spend time on-ball, such as Anthony Edwards, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Kyle Anderson. They need another player like Conley, who can not only provide a scoring threat but also be counted on to run the offense without turning the ball over at a high rate.

This is the same reason why the Wolves reportedly targeted Tyus Jones, who historically has had one of the best assist/turnover ratios in the NBA. For a Timberwolves team that falls apart in the fourth quarter while having the third-most turnovers in basketball, getting more players who value the rock is crucial. But that’s actually a strong point of Monte Morris.

What Minnesota Timberwolves Are Getting With Monte Morris Trade

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Morris’s price may have been a bit reduced because he’s only played in six games all season long for the Detroit Pistons. But now Morris is healthy after recovering from a quad injury suffered during the preseason. While his numbers don’t jump off the page at anyone, a closer look at what he’s done throughout his career shows exactly what Morris can add to Coach Finch’s rotation.

  • Monte Morris stats (career): 10.4 PPG, 4 APG, 2.5 RPG, 47% FG, 38% 3PT, A/TO ratio of 4/0.8

He’s a coach’s dream in that Morris is a knockdown shooter from the perimeter who, like Tyus, also takes excellent care of the basketball. Career-wise, he’s a better shooter and scorer than McLaughlin, and at 28 years old, Morris may be in the prime of his career.

He already comes highly recommended, as Tim Connelly knew him from their time together with the Denver Nuggets, and if Morris can quickly integrate himself into Finchy’s rotation, the Timberwolves could be adding a hidden gem.

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Who knows? If Morris is a good enough fit, it’s possible the front office finds a way to reach a contract extension with him before he enters unrestricted free agency at the season’s end, much like they did with Alexander-Walker last year.

Right now, Morris is earning a salary of $9.8 million. Depending on how he performs throughout the second half of the season and the playoffs, Morris could either receive a larger payday elsewhere or stay in a similar role in Minnesota at what would likely be a reduced salary.

With the Timberwolves’ future at point guard wide open due to the age and contract uncertainty of Conley, it’s really anyone’s job to claim long-term, which could even include the newest player on the team.