Jaylen Nowell didn't check in to the Timberwolves' 114-112 overtime victory over Denver on Friday until there were 7 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the game.
Coach Chris Finch has said not to read too much into rotations and who's playing with whom in the preseason, but Nowell was checking in at that point of the game with what you could call the third unit — not the starters, and not the mix players who earned second-unit bench minutes throughout the night.
Nowell made the most of the minutes he got, scoring the last six points in regulation, which included a four-point play, to force overtime. Then in the extra session, Nowell won the game for the Wolves with a fadeaway jumper with 10 seconds left.
"I kind of expect to hit those type of shots," Nowell said. "Those are some of my best shots I like to shoot. So I just made sure to get to my spots and put it up."
Finch has said the Wolves are comfortable playing anyone "one through 14" on the roster, but playing 14 players a night is impractical once the regular season begins.
"Sometimes having 14 guys is a luxury, sometimes it's a headache," Finch said.
Players such as Nowell who might be toward the end of the rotation have to take advantage of the chances they get.They'll get another one Monday in their third preseason game against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
"He keeps playing like that, he's going to make it into the rotation, and maybe in a more regular manner," Finch said. "But like I said to the guys, we have a very deep team with not a lot of separation at times, and that's going to make for an extremely competitive environment over these next couple of weeks."
Nowell, a second-round pick in 2019, said he wasn't feeling any pressure in the battle for minutes. Nowell was playing his best basketball as a Wolves player before a right tibia contusion sidelined him for most of April. He averaged nine points per game last season.
"Any time I step on the court, it's important to me, so I think that's how we all look at it and we're going to continue to look at it as a group," Nowell said.
Working on Bolmaro's shot
Rookie Leandro Bolmaro has impressed Finch with his defensive ability and playmaking, but one issues the Wolves are working on with Bolmaro is his shot. They are trying to alter his technique from deep.
"It's certainly not consistent and the form needs to be worked on, and that kind of takes a longer runway, but we feel like we can get him to being a good shooter, just with strength and rhythm and a few tweaks here and there," Finch said.
When asked how long that might take, Finch joked, "We plan to have it done by lunch tomorrow," but added the Wolves have coaches in Kevin Hanson with the NBA club and Ernest Scott in Iowa to help with Bolmaro's form.
"We have a very comprehensive player-development approach," Finch said. "Everyone knows what the high notes are when we're talking about teaching guys shooting form."
To celebrate National Indigenous People Day on Monday, the Wolves and Lynx, in conjunction with Treasure Island Resort and Casino, will dedicate a renovated basketball court at the Prairie Island Indian Community. Members of the organizations will be on hand for the dedication and they will also host a free basketball clinic for members of the community.