Despite entering just his third season in the NBA, Jordan Bell has played in more big games than anyone on the roster in Minnesota. He was a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls before being traded to the Golden State Warriors for $3.5 million on draft night in 2017.
Bell then spent his first two seasons as a role player on the Warriors, winning an NBA Championship in his first season and playing in the NBA Finals in his second year. He mostly played as a reserve, averaging 12.8 minutes per game over 125 contests with the Warriors, starting 16 of them over the last two years.
Most second-round picks aren’t asked to do much when they first break into the NBA. Pair that with the fact that Bell was playing alongside guys like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and it becomes evident why Bell’s role was so specialized.
On the offensive end of the floor, Bell primarily was used as a screener that would roll to the basket. Over his two years with the Warriors only 124 of his 440 field goal attempts came from beyond 10 feet from the rim, with 262 of them being characterized as at the rim, according to Basketball-Reference. He did attempt to expand his range away from the basket in his second season, however, attempting 87 shots from beyond 10 feet, compared to just 37 such shots as a rookie.
Defensively, Bell is a tad undersized to be a traditional center despite that being the position he logged nearly all of his minutes at that position. In Minnesota, he figures to play both center and power forward thanks to Karl-Anthony Towns being in the fold. While he will struggle in matchups against some of the league’s premier big men, he does have the ability to switch with many wings and hold his own on the perimeter if called upon to do so.
Bell might find himself in the starting lineup from time to time, but even in his best-case scenario it probably involves coming off of the bench more often than not. Coming off the bench doesn’t mean that he can’t be an integral part of the team’s plans both on offense and defense. If his jump shot improves from outside of 10 feet, he could be used a number of different ways offensively.
Having him as a switchable big defensively would be a big help to whatever scheme the Wolves choose to employ. There may be some lineups with Towns on the bench that use four players all available to switch with each other, and Bell could be a key cog in that.
Bell was just a product of his environment in Golden State. When surrounded by the likes of five future hall of famers, it might be easy to look as good as Bell did at times. He doesn’t have a consistent shot from the outside and that doesn’t improve at a high enough level for him to stay on the court consistently. His defensive versatility isn’t strong enough for him to stick, and could be pointed out as a product of playing on one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, rather than being a reason the Warriors were one of the best.
Bell will spend most of his time coming off the bench. His shooting won’t necessarily be anything to write home about, but he will be able to show that he can do more than the condensed role that he had while with the Warriors. His one-year deal means that every night is an audition for next season – whether that’s with the Wolves or with someone else.