5 Thoughts on the Timberwolves Upset of the Utah Jazz
It may be early in the season, but it is OK to celebrate being undefeated after 2 games! Very few people thought the Wolves could walk into the Jazz home arena and escape with a win, but that is exactly what Minnesota did. Here are 5 thoughts on an upset win in Utah.
- A win fueled by two-way wing play is a welcome sight. When was the last time the Wolves clearly had the advantage in wing play against a good team? Probably when Jimmy Butler was around, but even then Butler was the only two-way wing on the team. In the Wolves win over the Jazz, it was the play of Anthony Edwards, Jarrett Culver, Malik Beasley, and Josh Okogie that made the difference in the game. Those 4 players covered the shooting guard, small forward, and power forward position essentially the entire game with the normal power forward rotation offering very little production. The young group of wings the Wolves can deploy for the entire game is surely an area of strong encouragement for fans, and could eventually wreak havoc in the Western Conference.
- Speaking of wings, Josh Okogie’s defense is one of the biggest reasons for the Wolves two wins. Imagine a player that can adequately bother Blake Griffin in one game forcing him into an inefficient scoring night, then stick on Donovan Mitchell the next night and frustrate him into taking more field goal attempts than points scored. There are only a few players in the NBA who could hope to do what Okogie has done over the past two games. What he is doing so far is NBA All-Defense caliber of play, and he is topping it all off with low volume-high efficiency offensive play. Okogie may be having a breakout season in his 3rd year, and it could lead directly to an increase in wins.
- D’Angelo Russell is not perfect, but he can bring the shotmaking ability that the Wolves have lacked for years. Russell’s effort may wax and wane on defense, and fans may not always agree with his shot selection, but the fact remains that he is one of the more talented “difficult shot” makers in the league. The few minutes when Towns had to leave the game in the 4th quarter showed some of the largest differences from years past. An injury to Towns in previous seasons would have meant the offense grinds to a halt without a go-to scorer. Russell took it upon himself to keep the Jazz at bay, and hit several tough midrange shots to effectively ice the game. In the NBA, a point guard that can flash that type of ability is a valuable commodity.
- Malik Beasley is always doing SOMETHING. Beasley is another imperfect guard/wing on this Timberwolves roster. There are defensive lapses off the ball, and he is is prone to being a little too aggressive on offense. Wolves fans are finding out that they can live with his imperfections because we have not witnessed a player give as much effort as Beasley in a long time. He played 38 minutes against the Jazz, and seemed to be wreaking havoc on both ends and in transition the entire time. When there is a loose ball up for grabs? Beasley is probably in the middle of it. He is non-stop energy which can agitate opposing players on offense and defense. He mixes that energy with real skill on offense and shooting ability to form a combination that Wolves fans have not seen in years.
- The Wolves beat a good team in a way that fans are not used to seeing. Typically if the Wolves are able to upset a good team, it was because of a hot-shooting night or just terrible play from the opposing team. While the Jazz certainly did not have the requisite energy out of the gate, they did not just play terribly to allow the Wolves a win. No, the Wolves went out and took this game. They played with energy and defensive intensity, and clearly had a plan to frustrate Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz are a good defensive team when they lock in, yet the Wolves were mostly able to execute down the stretch to put the game away. The Wolves won this game with strategy, defense, and difficult shot-making, which is not a way fans expected this team to compete early on.