There comes a point in time where a team needs a big bucket, a steal, or a defensive stop from a dependable source.
Damien Wilkins has done that on numerous occasions, and has definitely kept the team composed in times of hardship.
Head coach Kurt Rambis has given praise to Damien Wilkins numerous times, even to go as far as calling him a "true professional."
Rambis has started Damien Wilkins in 15 games this season, approximately half of the Timberwolves games.
Statline as a starter : 9.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 SPG shooting 44% from the field, and 32% from the 3-point line.
Statline as a sub: 2.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.4 SPG shooting 31% from the field and 12% from the 3-point line.
Huge drop in every single statistic, but it's not the statistics that lead me to believe that Damien should be kept for the long term. We're not talking in terms of minutes or starting, but pure veteranship and key moments in Timberwolves victories.
A few notable moments:
1. Damien Wilkins hits a buzzer beater shot to give the Wolves their first win over the New Jersey Nets.
2. Damien Wilkins hit a clutch three-pointer, contested with two seconds left on the shot clock against the Utah Jazz, to swing the momentum in the Wolves favor as the Jazz gained momentum.
3. Damien Wilkins cannot grab a rebound over the Sacramento King's Donte Green, so he picked the ball and hit a turnaround fade away jumper to swing the momentum back for the Wolves and also get's fouled in the process.
4. Four Games with double figure rebounds.
5. 18 points, six rebounds, six assists, three blocks, and a steal against the Boston Celtics.
Kurt Rambis quotes on Damien Wilkins:
" Every time I come down to practice, he's already in a full sweat and he's one of the last to leave most of the time," he said.
"I think a lot of [his playing time] has to do with his acceptance and willingness to do what we're asking him to do. There hasn't been resistance on his behalf."
When Damien Wilkins was asked about his leadership, he responded:
"It's like the example I always use of coaches. That's why coaches always stress the important of leadership on the floor, so that guys on the team can hear voices other than [the coach's]. We hear the coaches' voices so much,..."
Making an argument that Damien should continue to start at the SF position over Ryan Gomes isn't a bad one.
After all, Gomes is equipped to be a scoring PF, but due to his lack of size, cannot effectively play the SF in every situation.
Starting Wilkins and playing Gomes with the second unit could make both units better, making the Wolves just a little more versatile.
Understand I'm not saying Wilkins should continue to be the starter for the years to come, but I'd rather have HIM then Brian Cardinal as our primary bench player in two years, because even "the Custodian" gets a few minutes every once in a while.
Thanks for reading!