Josh Okogie, after being stuck on Timberwolves bench, makes the most of playing time vs. Spurs
Since Robert Covington and Dario Saric arrived in the Jimmy Butler trade from the 76ers, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau has stuck to a nine-man rotation. That has meant Anthony Tolliver and rookie Josh Okogie, who were getting time before the trade, have spent most of the past few weeks on the bench.
Its the first time Okogie has gotten a taste of life in the NBA you can be in the rotation one day, then out of it for games at a time.
Its unfortunate being able to play and then not play, then play and not play, but I think the biggest key for me is to stay ready, Okogie said.
With the Wolves cruising late in their 128-89 victory over the Spurs on Wednesday, Okogie got a chance to play 10 minutes and he didnt waste it.
He got a hearty ovation upon his entrance and added a thunderous dunk along with three three-pointers in scoring 12 points. It showed how Okogie quickly endeared himself with fans.
Thats just what I bring, energy, Okogie said. Even when I was playing consistently, its always something that I view as nonnegotiable for me whether I make shots or dont make shots. My energy is always going to be there.
Okogie said while he would like to play more, it has been easier to take given the teams success 7-2 since the trade.
As long as we win, theres not much I can say, he said. Im just going to be here for my teammates. Ill be ready whenever my number is called.
Thibodeau said he hoped Tolliver and Luol Deng, who hasnt been part of the rotation all season, could be models for Okogie on how to handle his lack of minutes.
I walk in the gym early and [Tollivers] already there, Thibodeau said. Hes in a full lather and when you watch his workouts, you see great focus on everything that hes doing. And hes totally into the game.
It might seem easy to forget the Wolves got a third player in the Butler trade, but guard Jerryd Bayless continues to work his way back from a left knee injury that has kept him sidelined since the beginning of the season. Thibodeau mentioned Tuesday the team wanted Bayless to finish rehabilitating his knee in New York in the aftermath of the trade.
He pretty much finished that, Thibodeau said. Hes still not ready, so now there will be more work here and well go from there.
There isnt a timetable for his return. Thibodeau mentioned Bayless isnt cleared yet for contact.
We just want to make sure hes completely healthy, Thibodeau said.
Since Covington joined the team, its been evident how well he and Karl-Anthony Towns get along. The two previously trained together and are frequently joking with each other in the locker room. Covington stopped by Towns media session during shootaround and acted like a reporter to ask him a few questions.
Covingtons query was: How much do I bail you out on defense?
Towns answer: When Roco is beat on a cut, Im usually the one there waiting for the person. Im pretty happy about my ability to help him out.