The Minnesota Timberwolves have tried to target bigger names in the off-season. They wanted Al Horford but he was only going to go to current “contending” options (Atlanta, Boston, OKC). They wanted Luol Deng but he wanted a fourth year of salary commitment. They wanted Courtney Lee but he ended up taking a surprisingly low deal (four years, $50 million) in New York. As much potential as this team has, they still have to prove it to grab free agents.
That meant they had to wait a little for the depth of free agency to thin out. It led to Cole Aldrich on an incredible value (three years, $22 million) deal. It’s also leading to bringing Brandon Rush aboard on a one-year, $3.5 million, according to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com.
Free agent Brandon Rush and Timberwolves agree to 1-year, $3.5M, league source tells @clevelanddotcom.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 6, 2016
Tom Thibodeau has emphasized outside shooting in a lot of his comments, but the Wolves haven’t been able to pull in top shooting free agents. They are getting a good one in Rush though, even if it comes with a couple of things to worry about. We’ll start with the two main concerns with Rush and then get into his shooting prowess.
First off, Rush has had some bad injury stuff in his career. Twice in his career, he’s torn his ACL. The first time happened in 2007 during an illegal workout for the New York Knicks under Isiah Thomas. A scout Rodney Heard conducted the workout for the Knicks and Rush injured the knee during it. It kept him from declaring for the draft that year and he ended up going back to Kansas for his junior year. The second ACL tear happened in 2012 during the second game of the season. He was out the rest of the year.
Prior to that second injury, Rush was coming off phenomenal shooting seasons. From 2009-2012, Rush attempted 744 3-point attempts and made 42.5% of them. In his first year with the Golden State Warriors (2011-12), Rush knocked down a ridiculous 45.2% on 219 attempts. Then the injury came and his next three seasons were kind of lost. He played the two games in 2012-13, played 38 games for the Utah Jazz in 2013-14, and then played in just 33 games in 2014-15.
During those three years, he wasn’t really quick at all, he shot poorly (25%), and he didn’t have a great attitude in that one year in Utah. The Jazz weren’t a good team and he was a bit checked out. Some of that was probably due to the injury rehab. Some of that was probably due to the fact that he’d rather be on a winning team.
This past season, he was finally 100% again. He played in 72 games and hit 41.4% of his 3-pointers. He provides really nice depth for the Wolves. I’m not sure how much you expect out of him for minutes if you’re Tom Thibodeau, but he should be in a good position to back up Zach LaVine at the 2 or Andrew Wiggins at the 3. Rush knocked down 42% of his catch-and-shoot 3’s and 43.7% on wide-open 3-pointers. He can flat-out shoot the ball.
Most of his damage comes from above-the-break, as you can see there. But in the past, he’s been a good corner 3-point shooter, as well. For the most part, he’s not going to give you too much else on offense. He can make the extra pass and he can attack decently off a hard closeout, but his bread-and-butter is shooting. Prior to his injury in 2012, he was able to hit from the wings and the corners when he lit up the league from beyond the arc.
Defensively, he can still play within a scheme and be a good help defender. He doesn’t have a ton of quickness so I wouldn’t expect him to be a great individual guy, but he also won’t often be asked to check Kevin Durant or LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. He’s going to be asked to serve a role and it’s a role he can absolutely fill for the Wolves. If it works out, they move toward trying to retain him next summer. Or he just uses the Wolves as an auditioning spot for a bigger contract moving forward. The situation can be mutually beneficial.
His teammates in Golden State loved him. It helps when you’re winning a lot, but he was a guy they cherished during the last two seasons. He should help the Wolves as long as he’s healthy. And if he is, you hope the defense leaves him open.