In a rather loud offseason that saw former NBA Finals MVPs like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala find new homes, the Minnesota Timberwolves stayed mostly quiet — especially after they struck out on the pursuit of guard DeAngelo Russell.
But the Wolves made one sneaky move that by the end of the 2019-20 season could be looked at as one of the better sleeper signings of the summer.
In a sign-and-trade deal with Portland, Minnesota brought in former Maryland forward Jake Layman on a three-year deal worth $11.5 million.
So, who is this guy?
Layman, a native of small-town Wrentham, Mass., was selected 47th overall by Orlando in 2016. He was immediately traded to Portland, which reportedly had its eye on selecting Layman for months. The Trail Blazers sent a 2019 second-round pick and $1.2 million in cash considerations to Orlando to get their guy.
At 6-foot-9, Layman is listed as a small forward but is quick enough to defend guards and can play multiple positions. Over three seasons with the Trail Blazers, he proved he was a solid (yet, at times streaky) 3-point shooter with the ability to throw down a monster dunk.
Layman’s run with the Trail Blazers wasn’t spectacular, but it got off to a rather crazy start.
Layman sat out Portland’s first three games of the 2016-17 season before making his NBA debut Nov. 1, 2016 in a blowout loss to Golden State. He played exactly eight minutes of garbage time and dropped an astounding 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including five makes from downtown.
The then-22-year-old then sat for the next four games before coming off the bench in another blowout loss Nov. 9, 2016. He shot just 1 of 5 from downtown in that game but racked up nine points in 16 minutes on the floor.
Add those two games together, and for a minute Layman boasted the most points per 36 minutes in NBA history — ahead of Michael Jordan and George Gervin.
Move over Michael Jordan and George Gervin. Portland @Trailblazers rookie Jake Layman averages the most points per 36 mins in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/NmklcckkE9
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 10, 2016
Fast forward about two years to last season, and Layman had another one of “those games” – twice. On Dec. 6, 2018, serving as Portland’s sixth man, he came off the bench in the first quarter and made all six of his field-goal attempts, including three 3-pointers. Layman outscored Phoenix that quarter 15-9.
A little over a month later he was at it again. In the Trail Blazers’ 128-112 win over New Orleans on Jan. 18, he poured in 20 points in the second quarter alone. Layman went 8-of-11 in the quarter and nailed 4 of 7 attempts from deep.
This is @JLayman10‘s world & we’re just living in it. pic.twitter.com/KEU6YGGbc9
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 19, 2019
And we’re still not done with crazy statistics.
Layman also made history Oct. 10, 2017 when he became the first bench player born in New England to score eight points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. OK, in a preseason game. Well, also we should clarify that as a New Englander who went to Maryland. Oh, and in a game which was played on a Monday. And, also played in Sacramento.
Don’t believe us?
trust us*, it’s factual**
**among New England natives who went to Maryland pic.twitter.com/dPpuq1GOfR
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) October 10, 2017
All in all, Layman never really got a fair chance until last season, his final year in Portland. He played just 70 games and averaged 1.6 points per contest over his first two seasons combined. He finally was able to carve out a decent role in 2018-19, playing in 71 games (33 starts) and tallying 7.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per contest while shooting at a 32.6% clip from 3-point range.
However, the Trail Blazers didn’t rely on Layman much in the postseason. He found himself out of the rotation and totaled just five points during Portland’s entire run to the Western Conference finals, appearing in just six of 16 postseason contests while never playing more than five minutes in a game.
Now featured on a Timberwolves team that is hungry for consistent production and shooting off the bench, Layman will definitely get his chance to shine with the Timberwolves next season.
Other fun facts:
— The phrase “Fear the Turtle” is often linked to a Layman highlight, referencing his four collegiate seasons playing for the Maryland Terrapins. Look out, Willians Astudillo.
— Layman comes from a family of athletes. His father played baseball and his mother played basketball for the University of Maine.
— Layman has trimmed it down a bit these days, but at one time his hair had quite the cult following. In fact, his flow even had its own fan-run Twitter account — @JakeLaymansHair (alas, it hasn’t posted in two years).
— Layman, the player not the hair, has Twitter (@JLayman10) and Instagram (@j_lay_lay) accounts, and he is somewhat active on there.
— The brain: Layman graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in American Studies in 2016.