BY: PRATIK SINHA
The 2022-23 NBA season is now underway, and in some particularly exciting news for Tribe basketball fans, the Minnesota Timberwolves have named W&M legend Nathan Knight (‘20) to their regular season roster.
Knight played sparingly for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in just 7.2 minutes per game. While Minnesota had been in rebuilding mode for most of the past decade, they made the playoffs in the 2021-22 season and gave the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies all they could handle before bowing out in six hard-fought games. The team being in win-now mode meant that the second-year Knight got mostly mop-up duty at the end of blowouts, but he showed potential in the games where his number was called for meaningful minutes (most notably in his first career start against the Boston Celtics, where he scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds).
The Timberwolves roster currently does not lack for big men. In addition to having perennial All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, this summer the team traded for Frenchman Rudy Gobert, the “Steiffel Tower” who always seemed to be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation during his time with the Utah Jazz. Naz Reid, firmly entrenched in the backup center role for the Timberwolves over the past few seasons, had a strong preseason to justify his own place on the roster. So with all these talented players, one could wonder if head coach Chris Finch is going to let Knight see the floor at all this year.
However, Knight’s unique combination of size (6’10”, with a wingspan of 7’2”) and athleticism makes him a contender for minutes at both the center and power forward positions. One area to improve upon this season will be his 3-point shooting (for his career so far, he has shot a mere 21.7% from beyond the arc), as he will likely be asked to perform more than a traditional center’s role and space the floor. Of course, he still possesses his trademark toughness and elite rebounding skills, as shown by this board he grabs over the 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon of the Miami Heat.
Expect Knight to make major strides in his third NBA season. Cracking the regular rotation will be tough, but his familiarity with the Timberwolves system after spending last season with the team and his ability to play both the power forward and center positions should get Nate enough minutes to make an impact during the 82-game slate.