Lost in the news earlier this week that D’Angelo Russell needed arthroscopic surgery that would keep the Timberwolves starting point guard off the floor for four to six weeks was the update that second-year guard Jarrett Culver could return to action as soon as next week.
Culver, who’s been out since late January with a sprained ankle, has returned to on-court activities. Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders watched the 2019 first-round pick get in some shooting Wednesday.
“He looks good,” Saunders said.
But will Culver have a rotation spot when he returns to action? Juancho Hernangomez didn’t when he came back after missing weeks due to COVID-19. He was passed over by Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels.
Jaylen Nowell has played well of late in Culver’s absence. Would Culver supplant him for a bench role? Could Culver take the minutes currently going to Josh Okogie?
Saunders said Culver has an opportunity in “a number of areas.”
“Especially when it comes to the defensive end. And I thought that was something Jarrett was doing a nice job with before he got hurt,” Saunders said. “He was taking that challenge on the defensive end.”
Culver, who made seven starts over the first 16 games before his injury, certainly won’t be in the starting lineup upon his return, but Saunders noted the offensive philosophy of the second unit has shifted to more of a drive-and-kick approach of late.
“Jarrett’s gotten to do that,” Saunders said. “So there will be opportunity there.”
Karl-Anthony Towns suffered a dislocated left wrist Dec. 26 and missed a couple weeks of action, returning Jan. 9 against San Antonio. Shortly thereafter, Towns contracted COVID-19, and the illness caused him to miss nearly a month.
But there he was during Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers, still occasionally grabbing at that wrist, nearly two months after the injury occurred. Towns noted in January when he came back that the wrist was still an issue, but he wanted to play. Apparently, it still isn’t 100 percent.
“Yeah, it still is what it is. I’m still not recovered from it whatsoever,” Towns said. “(Wednesday) was one of those days I fell on it one too many times in a bunch of weird ways, and it caused a lot of pain. But it is what it is. Have to go out there and just trying to be the best I can be in whatever position I’m in.”
Malik Beasley has made 100 3-pointers in 29 games this season. That’s one fewer game than Towns needed last season, giving Beasley the new franchise mark for quickest to 100 triples in a single season.
Another franchise record he has claimed: Most games in a season with at least six made triples. Beasley already has five, and the previous mark, belonging to Zach LaVine, was four.