Keeping in mind that the season is young, it’s still hard not to notice how efficient backups Josh Okogie and Shabazz Napier were as the Timberwolves opened the season with two road victories.
Okogie was a rather monstrous plus-50 in the two games, Napier a plus-35.
Okogie’s plus-50 is the best two-game composite start to a season by any Minnesota player since the stat started being kept in the 1996-97 season. Napier’s is second-best.
“Josh has been huge … ” coach Ryan Saunders said. “Again, it’s two games. And we need to not be satisfied and get better. But just the lift he’s given us off the bench is something we’ve really needed.”
In the Wolves’ season-opening victory in Brooklyn, Okogie scored 11 points with three rebounds, three assists and a steal and was a plus-22 in 14½ minutes. Against Charlotte he was 5-for-6, scoring 14 points, and was a plus-28 in 26½ minutes.
Napier? He has struggled with his shot — going 2-for-13 through two games — but he has 16 assists in 42 minutes of playing time.
Okogie, in particular, has been effective cutting to the basket for easy scores.
“You have guys like [Andrew] Wiggins, KAT, Jeff [Teague] can score,’’ he said. “So when I get easy buckets it kind of takes the pressure off them. It definitely helps us.’’
Treveon Graham has fit in well as a part of the Wolves’ starting five. He has averaged 10.6 points despite being a relatively low-usage guy who doesn’t get a lot of plays called for him.
“He’s going to do what you ask of him,” Saunders said. “And what the team needs from him. He helps our spacing as well. And defensively, that’s one of the biggest contributions he’s given us, in terms of a team defensive mind-set.”
He has picked his moments. His rebound, put-back and, ultimately, three-point play in overtime helped the Wolves beat Brooklyn on opening night. Graham hit on two of three three-pointers and scored 12 points in the victory in Charlotte.
“It’s been really easy for me,” Graham said. “Because I’m out there with some great guys. I can just kind of go find my spots. And then defensively, do what I do best. Play hard. Do the dirty work. So it’s really easy for me to be out there with those guys.”
Early in the season, as Robert Covington makes his way back from knee surgery in April, the Wolves are monitoring his minutes. But Saunders is giving himself some leeway to go over that limit, as he did in Wednesday’s overtime win against Brooklyn.
“I did go over the number, and it’s just a general guideline for myself, too,” Saunders said, without specifying the number. “You can get in the heat of the moment, heat of the game, you obviously check with medical and make sure everybody is on the same page.”
• Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on adding Jimmy Butler to the team: “He’s our kind of guy. We like these competitive, edgy kind of guys. For better or worse, that’s us. … Jimmy fits into our model.” Butler missed Sunday’s game following the birth of his daughter.
• Wolves President Gersson Rosas met with Loons players Angelo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero before Sunday’s game. All are natives of Colombia.