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Takeaways from the Timberwolves’ preseason-opening win in Miami

Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and D’Angelo Russell all sat the game out for Minnesota.

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince (12) drives to the basket while defended by Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro in Minnesota's first preseason game Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Miami.
Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today Sports
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MIAMI -- Many questions still remain following the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 121-111 preseason-opening victory Tuesday in Miami. One, because it’s only one game and, two — and more importantly — because Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and D’Angelo Russell all sat the game out.

So there was no look at the Towns-Gobert pairing and how it’ll play out in game action, nor how the dynamic will shift when Gobert is and is not on the floor.

Still, Tuesday provided a first look of sorts at the new look Wolves, and there was information to be gathered. Here were the primary takeaways after the initial taste of Timberwolves’ action:

Point Ant

With Russell out, the logical move would be for Timberwolves coach Chris Finch to slide backup floor general Jordan McLaughlin into the starting lineup. Instead, Finch started Jaylen Nowell.

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards, right, shoots the ball over Miami's Omer Yurtseven on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Minnesota's first preseason game.
Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today Sports

But it was actually Anthony Edwards who assumed point guard duties, initiating and running the offense while Nowell largely played off the ball. That may be a sign of things to come for Minnesota. So many of the game’s top wings — LeBron James, Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic immediately come to mind — quarterback their team’s respective offenses. It’s a logical evolution for Edwards to eventually move into that role on a more consistent basis.

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That transition could potentially start as soon as this season. Edwards has playmaking chops, though his reads can appear to be as simple as: attack on his own or make the simple pass. That progression will become more complex with experience, but it’s not a bad base to start from.

Bucket getters

Edwards is one of the game’s top young scorers. That is no secret on a local or national scale. But Jaylen Nowell’s scoring prowess is still a relatively well-kept secret outside of Minnesota.

It was again on full display Tuesday, as Edwards and Nowell both got buckets with ease in Miami. Edwards exploded for an efficient and, frankly, effortless 24 points in just 23 minutes.

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat
Minnesota's Jordan McLaughlin, left, drives to the basket defended by Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin in the third quarter Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Miami.
Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today Sports

Playing alongside the former No. 1 overall pick for much of the night, Nowell himself poured in 14 points. It was just another reminder that Minnesota has a pair of lethal one-on-one scorers who are 21 and 23 years of age, respectively.

Fast break phenoms

Transition basketball is an emphasis for Finch on both ends of the floor this season. The offseason addition of Gobert is not meant to slow down Minnesota’s pace.

Early indications are the Wolves received that message loud and clear. Minnesota got out on the fast break at every possible moment, compiling 30 fast break points. The transition game sparked a dominant overall evening on the offensive end.

On the other end, Minnesota allowed the Heat to score just five points in transition. That will be a winning formula all season for the Wolves.

Experience required

It’s a surprise to few, but it is telling that on a night when Minnesota was down three starters, neither of the Timberwolves’ two draft picks — Wendell Moore nor Josh Minott — saw the floor until the fourth quarter.

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Given the Timberwolves’ roster — which is stuffed full with quality players with NBA experience — there appears to be zero rotation minutes available during which the rookies can whet their palates. It will be difficult enough to find enough minutes for guys like Austin Rivers and Bryn Forbes.

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It’s safe to assume both first-year players will spend much of the early season with the franchise’s G-League team in Iowa.

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