DETROIT – In the wake of losing the D’Angelo Russell sweepstakes, the Timberwolves pivoted in free agency and focused on under-the-radar signings to fill out their roster.
Karl-Anthony Towns thinks the Wolves pulled one over on the rest of the league with at least one of those moves when they locked up Jake Layman to a three-year deal for about $11.5 million.
“That guy has added so much value to our team,” Towns said after the Wolves’ 120-114 victory over Detroit on Monday. “I think everyone really didn’t see the value he truly had, and we here in the organization, we saw right away. We knew exactly what he could do.”
The best example of that so far this season came Monday when Layman came off the bench and scored 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 4-for-5 from three-point range. It showcased how Layman fits what the Wolves want to do. The forward spaced the floor and spotted up for open threes off the attention the Pistons gave Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He also took opportunities to cut to the basket, as he did on a pretty reverse layup in the third quarter off a feed from Robert Covington.
“He fit in perfectly with this team,” Towns said. “His shooting ability and everything he does fits in our system. When Jake decided to join our organization that was huge for us, and that gave us a lot of ability to do different things.”
Like a lot of the Wolves’ role players who are trying to find their footing on a new team with a new offensive system, it’s been an uneven start for Layman, whose three-point percentage rose from 30% to 36% after Monday’s game. He is averaging 10 points per game on 42% shooting in 26.2 minutes off the bench.
“I feel like I’ve been getting great shots every game,” Layman said. “Some games they haven’t been falling. But it’s all been great looks within our offense, so I’m going to keep doing the same thing.”
That has been the mantra from coach Ryan Saunders for everyone when they have an off-night shooting — just keep firing away and eventually they’ll go down. Layman wasn’t immune to the struggles the Wolves had Sunday against the Nuggets when he was 0-for-6 from three-point range as part of a 6-for-45 team effort. But his confidence didn’t vanish, and he turned in a season high in scoring against Detroit as a result.
“As long as it’s all great shots within our offense,” Layman said. “[Sunday] I thought we had a lot of wide-open threes. They just didn’t fall for us. That’s fine.”
With the Wolves’ inconsistent three-point shooting, it’s fair to wonder if they have the right personnel this season for the style they want to play. According to Saunders, Layman is a perfect fit for what they’re trying to do.
“He’s everything you want as a coach,” Saunders said. “He’s a ball mover. He’s a floor spacer, and he’s a hard-playing guy. He just does whatever it takes to win. He gives himself up for the team. I could on and on about Jake, but I don’t have the time.”
Towns had a little more time.
“We talk so much about his talent, but Jake as a person has brought something to this locker room that is so valuable,” Towns said. “He’s just a great guy, great character. He’s very smart. So when you bring that kind of talent with that kind of character, it adds just so much more value than what you see on the court.”
The Wolves won’t mind seeing more nights like the one Layman had Monday.