Timberwolves forward Shabazz Muhammad’s promised promotion to more playing time begs the age-old question: Do you play more because you have played better or do you play better when you play more?
Muhammad says he hasn’t scored as well as he would like to start a season when he has averaged fewer than 18 minutes a game. “But I think I’ve been playing pretty well,” he said.
Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell pledges to play Muhammad more as part of a lineup shuffled implemented for Monday’s game against a Philadelphia team that started the season 0-14. He moved veteran Kevin Martin into the starting lineup for Tayshaun Prince, shuffling Andrew Wiggins to Prince’s spot to make room for Martin at shooting guard. Younger players such as Muhammad will play more off the bench now.
“We may have to sacrifice a little defense, but we have to score more points,” Mitchell said.
Enter Martin with the starters and Muhammad for an expanded role off the bench. “I just have to keep bringing my energy for a longer span of time: Rebounding, defending, scoring the ball,” Muhammad said. “It’s a good thing having Kmart in the first group and me in the second because me and Zach [LaVine] can really bring the scoring load.”
Not that Wolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns is keeping track, but his draft class is off to an impressive start, judging by his play as well as that of No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor with Philadelphia and No. 4 Kristaps Porzingis with New York.
“You get so lost in the world of your team, you lose track of everybody else,” Towns said. “But I’ve been seeing the great games by everybody. It’s great to see our rookie class is doing well in the NBA.”
Two who got away
Given the position his team is in, 76ers coach Brett Brown has spent a lot of times studying the NBA draft, particularly its top players every year. He liked what he saw doing his homework on consecutive No. 1 overall picks Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
“Minnesota should feel lucky to have those two,” Brown said. “They handle themselves with class and they’re talented.”
• Forward Nemanja Bjelica missed his second game in a row due to a knee contusion. Adreian Payne picked up his minutes.
• Wolves rookie Tyus Jones wore a Kentucky No. 12 jersey and posed with Towns after Sunday’s practice, the Twitter-posted payoff to a wager over whether Kentucky or Duke would win last week’s game in Chicago.
• The Wolves invited 100 current soldiers and veterans to brunch, shooting competitions with players and Tuesday’s practice.