‘He’s just a winner’: Kyle Anderson is ‘the perfect fit’ with Timberwolves
More than halfway through the season, that impact is beaming through
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves felt like they struck gold with the free-agent signing of Kyle Anderson in July. The move flew a bit under the radar, because one day after the news of Anderson’s acquisition broke, Minnesota traded the farm for Rudy Gobert.
Still, even in the following months, those in and around the organization continued to play up the impact the veteran, versatile wing would have on this team. More than halfway through the season, that impact is beaming through.
Over his past three games, Anderson is averaging 15.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, eight assists and 2.3 steals. That production is coming with a microscopic usage of 14.5%, eighth on the team in that span.
“I rely on guarding and rebounding and doing the other things, things I can control in order to affect the game,” Anderson said. “The ball going into the basket, you can’t really control that. So, guys that just rely on scoring, when they don’t score, they can’t impact the game. I try to focus on other things, things that I can control, getting stops, getting rebounds, playing hard.”
It’s what makes Anderson such a good match with Minnesota. He’s a player who can impact the game in just about every way while not taking possessions away from Minnesota’s higher-profile players.
“He’s a perfect fit. He’s a perfect fit because of his IQ; he’s our connective tissue,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “He’s the guy who really binds it all together out there a lot of times.”
Anderson was the one who was holding it all together in the first half of Thursday’s win over Toronto. The Wolves were lifeless through the first 24-plus minutes after playing in Denver the night prior. But Anderson kept Minnesota within striking distance via his 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in the first half.
His early production created the opportunity for D’Angelo Russell to save Minnesota with the point guard’s fourth quarter offensive surge.
“I was just trying to make sure I had energy. You have all day to get your energy right for 7 o’clock,” Anderson said. “I knew we’d get it together eventually — I hoped we’d get it together eventually.”
Asked how he makes sure he’ll have that energy, even on the second half of a difficult back to back, Anderson said those issues are all mental. They won’t stop him.
“It’s the NBA game. I’ve wanted to do this my whole life, so I ain’t ever going to be sluggish or take it for granted,” the forward said. “I’m going to be ready to go. I work hard in the summertime for that.”
That’s the type of professionalism that leads to a consistency Minnesota has lacked this season. Anderson now appears to be setting a tone that has helped get the Wolves back on track, even as the club battles through a slew of injuries.
“He’s just a winner,” Russell said. “One thing that I appreciate about him is he holds guys accountable. He comes from winning situations, winning background, so he knows what it looks like and what it takes.”
That’s why Finch has turned to Anderson in so many big spots this season. When things are going off the rails, the coach will often turn to the point forward to bring the ball up the floor and get Minnesota a good possession. Forward may be Anderson’s position thanks to his 6-foot-9 frame, but he’s noted on multiple occasions that he’s a point guard at heart.
“He’s like our point guard, for real. That’s what I see,” Wolves wing Jaden McDaniels said. “He puts everybody in the right position.”
Anderson has always been a good playmaker; that’s the point guard in him coming out. But this year he’s proven to be an adept shooter. The wing is shooting 44% from deep, and 58% in his past 10 games. Anderson said that’s a product of having a healthy offseason. He has full confidence in his quirky stroke.
Much like his coach has the utmost confidence in his forward.
“I think Coach Finch is trusting me, and this is what I do,” Anderson said. “Get guys involved, score if I need to, rebound, push, things like that.”
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