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Wendell Moore Jr. could be another key piece to Timberwolves puzzle

“I definitely feel like I’m someone who can play all over the floor,” Moore said on Tuesday morning during his introductory news conference at Target Center. “I can play with anybody.”

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves-Press Conference
Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly (far left) and head coach Chris Finch (far right) introduce the 2022 draft picks Walker Kessler, Wendell Moore Jr. and Josh Minott at a press conference on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at Target Center in Minneapolis.
Bruce Kluckhohn / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — With the No. 26 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves landed Wendell Moore Jr.

That capped a run of Duke players that included Paolo Banchero going No. 1 to the Orlando Magic, then Mark Williams (No. 15) and A.J. Griffin (No. 16) going back to back in the middle of the first round. For good measure, Trevor Keels (No. 42) heard his name called by the New York Knicks in the second round.

All of that is to say that Moore has proven himself as someone who thrives alongside other talented players, which is exactly what he’ll need to do moving forward if he wants to carve out a niche in the Timberwolves’ rotation.

“I definitely feel like I’m someone who can play all over the floor,” Moore said on Tuesday during his introductory news conference at Target Center. “I can play with anybody.”

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In some ways, it seems early for such proclamations. The Timberwolves haven’t been to the second round of the NBA playoffs since 2004. This spring marked the first playoff experience for a number of key players on the roster, who are still in the infant stages of their careers. Going from that to championship is quite a leap.
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‘We’re going to work as hard as possible to push the envelope a bit,’ Connelly said.

That’s music to the ears of new Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, who said the recently retired Mike Krzyzewski was among Moore’s biggest supporters throughout the predraft process.

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“He was relentless,” Connelly said with a laugh. “I joked with Wendell’s agents that Coach K was like another agent. Just calling nonstop.”

There’s reason for the praise. As a veteran for Duke this past season, Moore helped lead a very young roster all the way to the Final Four. He was a prominent voice on and off the court, and while he didn’t necessarily need the ball in his hands to be effective, Moore still had his best statistical season to date, averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, plus shooting better than 40 percent on three-point attempts.

“I think this past year I was just a lot more confident in my game,” Moore said. “Just putting it all together. The game kind of slowed down for me. I was able to play it at my own speed.”

Though he was more than capable of taking over a game on any given night in college, Moore was just as content to be a role player if that’s what the team needed of him. The latter will serve him well as he transitions to the NBA.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament West Regional-Texas Tech vs Duke
Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) dribbles the ball against Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Adonis Arms (25) during the first half in the semifinals of the West regional of the men's college basketball NCAA Tournament on March 24, 2022, at Chase Center in San Francisco.
Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports

It’s highly unlikely that Moore will be the best player on the floor at any point during his rookie season with the Timberwolves. Not with Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns leading the charge. Luckily for Moore, he has learned how to make a difference regardless.

“Some players play better when there’s better players around them because the things that they do don’t translate on a score sheet,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “They can fill in a lot of cracks.”

That’s exactly what Moore hopes to do for the Timberwolves. He can be a playmaker on offense if the moment calls for it and he has the ability to guard multiple positions on defense. Asked about Moore’s skill set, Finch said, “We feel he’s somebody that can grow into a high-level two-way player.”

What does Moore hope to bring as a rookie?

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“Hopefully I can bring winning,” he said. “It’s already an exciting young group that we have here. I’m just here to compete and add to that. I just want to win.”

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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