Earlier this season it seemed like Josh Okogie couldn't hit from the outside. Up until the All-Star break, Okogie was shooting 22% from three-point range. Since, the All-Star break, however, Okogie has shot 40%, including a 3-for-4 effort in Wednesday's loss to Milwaukee.
He joked that his brother uncovered the reason for his resurgence.
"He thinks it's the vaccine," said Okogie, who received the first dose of coronavirus vaccine recently with his teammates. "He said he can't wait until I take my second shot."
Okogie said he hasn't been doing anything different. He's "glad they're just starting to fall."
But there has been a slight change in mind-set for Okogie under coach Chris Finch, who challenged Okogie, one of the Wolves' best defensive players, to be more productive offensively.
"I told him that I would start making threes, and that's just what's been happening," Okogie said. "Once you start doing that then the cuts become a little more open. Drives become a little more open. It opens up everything a little more."
Finch said Okogie has done a "good job of taking good shots."
"He's confident, he's shot-ready, he's letting it go in a good rhythm," Finch said. "He's not thinking about it, and the ball is finding him within the flow of the offense at the right time. People are going to help off of him, even if he continues to make shots."
Finch also mentioned the coaches want Okogie to crash the offensive glass more frequently.
"He's really kind of rounding out his game, and it all comes from what you do well," Finch said. "He's a really good defender, and if he can make some spot shots on top of that, that's growth."
Making a difference
Over the past few days Okogie worked with the Wolves to try to raise money for the family of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man who was killed by police in Brooklyn Center on Sunday.
The Wolves and their opponents recently have worn black shirts that say "with liberty and justice for all" during warmups, and Okogie helped organize an auction of those shirts with autographs on them.
"Obviously there's no amount of money that'll be able to replace Daunte Wright," Okogie said. "But hopefully this small gesture can help the family who's grieving right now, and my prayers stay with them."
The auction began on the Wolves' website Friday and ended at the final buzzer of Friday's game.
After missing the past two games to be with his family to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of his mother, Jacqueline, from COVID-19, Karl-Anthony Towns was back in the lineup on Friday.
Okogie said Towns has still found a way to "smile through it all" in what has been a difficult season for him.
"I think it'll be good for him just to get out here, play basketball and clear his head with everything that's going on with him off the court," Okogie said. "But it's also good to have him back. Right now, basketball doesn't really matter when it comes to the things he's dealing with."
Nowell out again
After playing in the past two games, Jaylen Nowell was out Friday because of a bruised right tibia. Nowell missed four games because of the injury, then came back to play in the past two. He shot just 1-for-14 in those two games. Finch said Nowell's status depends on "pain tolerance."
"It's one of those types of things. Just have to deal with it right now and see how he feels," Finch said.