Drafted 28th overall, the NCAA's most outstanding player in 2008 was drafted to the Minnesota Timberwolves.Coming into the draft only standing at 6'5'', he was known just to be a shooting specialist, a role player, his disadvantages would seem to limit his production as a starter at the NBA level.
Going thoughout the season, Wayne Ellington progressed and seemingly couldn't get consistent minutes on an abysmal team that only won 15 games. Now on a better team, he's slated for minutes with Martell Webster injured for 6 weeks, and Jonny Flynn being out of service till late November.
In the Minnesota Timberwolves first preseason game, a quick minor injury to Sebastian Telfair, the Wolves backup point guard would leave the Wolves playing with only one true point guard in Luke Ridnour, and Kurt Rambis plugged in Wayne Ellington for 20 minutes at point guard. He compiled 9 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound, with only 1 turnover. While his handle looked a little shaky, he was very efficient in creating his own shot, and looked like he could handle himself defensively against point guards.
Even from that game forward, Ellington progressed.
When seeing at least 25 minutes, he posted double figures, including a 22 point, 4 assist, 3 rebound, 2 steal and 1 block game against the Milwaukee Bucks, shooting 3-3 from the 3-point line and 8-11 from the field. This game is significant small in that it's a small sample size, but it's relevant because it was his first starting job in the preseason, and he rose to the occasion.
It looks as if Wayne is going to start a few games going into the regular season, and it possibly isn't a fluke that Wayne has put up 22 points and 16 points in his respective 2 starts. First, he's a very gifted shooter, even though he stands at 6'5'', he gets great elevation on his shot and has a trick way of re balancing himself in the air to sink mid range shots.
He's even creating his own shot. Last season, Wayne barely had the ball in his hands, now that he's going to be starting, he's going to be expected to play quality minutes on both ends of the court, and this is something he's capable of doing.
His defense is instinctive rather than structure, he's a pretty good man to man defender whether it's guarding point guards or 2-guards, he can rack up steals in the passing lanes, he even can block a shot from the weakside as he's underrated athletically.
He possesses an advantage over the other wings in that he knows the offense very well, he's a very consistent shooter, he get's how to take game winning shots (he was the go-to scorer in the NCAA tournament), and with more consistent minutes, the NBA community will see how good a value pick Wayne was at 28.
While he might not have permanent starting potential, it's not out of the question. Jamal Crawford was awarded 6th man of the year, and that's a possibility for Wayne. He has decent size and he can really shoot the ball, considering that he's entering into his 2nd year, the Minnesota Timberwolves have them a developing 2-guard that can be sure to knock down open and contested shots day in and day out.
He's now getting his shot, and because the way that head coach runs his offense, at least offensively Wayne fits the bill near perfectly. It will be his defense that will be in question. Coming out of a winning program like North Carolina, I'm pretty sure he will get it eventually.
I expect Wayne to average double figures as a starter, it's definitely not out of the question, and with his efficiency, his effort and underrated athleticism, he's a dark horse for a future 'key role' or 'last shot taker' this upcoming season.