What Minnesota Timberwolves is doing with Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr.

Talk about a great college basketball experience.

As Duke’s freshman in the 2019-2020 season, Wendell Moore Jr. a kick-off for a team that was ready to be in the top three of the NCAA tournament before it missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following season, Moore’s sophomore year, Duke hit the bottom to a large extent, skipping March Madness for the first time since the mid-1990s. A month later came the bombing: legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski is retiring after next season, Moore’s junior year. This left 20-year-old Moore not only as captain and key figure in Krzyzewski’s last team, but also one of the few “veterans” of the Blue Devils – despite never playing in the NCAA.

And yet Moore responded, leading Duke to the Final Four, while winning the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award. This combination of team and individual success – despite his challenging college career – eventually forced Moore into this summer’s NBA draw, where he was ranked No. 26 and finished after a draw night with Minnesota.

“I’m raising my hat in front of Wendell,” says Chris Carrawell, Duke’s head coach. “He wasn’t in a hurry with the process.”

The result was steady growth over three years. Much of it was athletic, with Carrawell and Duke staff thinking Moore (not meant) could get out of his body. “I told you to look, man, did you have a dink this year? And it was a departure; it doesn’t really matter, and you should give it up,” Carrawell jokes. worked with Moore Duke’s strength and sports scientists – including using catapult technology used on several NBA teams – to increase his athleticism, which directly changed Moore’s gait, which in turn changed how fast he ran, how high he jumped and how he was able to move around the field without spending so much energy.

From there, the translation into production was obvious. Moore scored an average of 13.4 points this season, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 innings, the best in his career. Equally important were his jumps as a shooter; Moore hit 41.3 percent of the three free throws, 80.5 percent of the free throw, and maintained a 56.9 percent hit against KenPom. “He shot (last season) of the kids he missed – the kick-offs – in the first few years,” says Carrawell. “He knocked them down without hesitation. Usually when he hit his first 3-point throw in his first or second year, he hesitated (next time) and caught and put it (on the floor). Now it was exactly that he was shooting constantly.

The thing is, Moore’s sporting gifts finally came together in a way that correlated directly on the pitch – and immediately helped him win. But, as Carrawell pointed out, Moore’s advanced physical tools also allowed him to grow mentally, where he managed to become the leader of Coach K’s final team and one of the biggest brands in college basketball.

So what does all this mean for Timberwolves? A few things. For starters, given that he played with four other draw options this season, Moore clearly knows how to play alongside other top talent – and fits in well. This way of thinking was also evident in the square, where he was asked to do a little bit. Moore, for example, did not play as a goalkeeper, but often acted as a secondary ball handler, resulting in the team’s best passing rate for KenPom. This was possible in part because Duke didn’t have a real lead guard, but also because Moore had a strong enough handle and good enough looks to set up his teammates. As for his individual offensive use, about half of Moore’s possession came through transition or additional opportunities, synergies, but he was effective with both, earning on average better than one point per possession (PPP). It was possible that during one game, Moore would take the dribble off someone’s half-court, shoot him over the corner, run past them and cut behind them to make a slight difference. . Something, something, a full package.

Moore was then able to defend in a defense of 6 feet at 5 and 216 pounds – but with a 7-foot wingspan – Moore actually defended any position from one to four and was regularly asked to defend the opponent’s best perimeter player. His thefts were partial proof of this, but he also recorded just 1.9 errors for KenPom in 40 minutes and was among the top 20 in the ACC.

When you put it all together, from long-term growth to versatility on both sides of the ball, you have the prerequisites for the ideal role player at the next level. In fact, Carrawell sees many similarities to another former ACC letter that has almost identical physical measurable characteristics:

“I’ve always compared him to Malcolm Brogdon,” says Carrawell. “Only a big guard. If Brogdon got the pros and was a newcomer of the year and made a lot of money, I think they’re similar to me.

If Brogdon’s career curve – from the second round to the start and ending with the $ 85 million man – shows what’s ahead of Moore, TWolves fans should have every hope that Carrawell’s comparison will work out.

(Photo: Robert Deutsch / USA Today)

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