If Wolves Remain Bought In Defensively, Wins Will Come

Photo: David Berding – USA TODAY Sports

From a record standpoint, it’s been another tough start to a season for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2021-22. After going 3-1 to tipoff the schedule, the Wolves dropped six straight and have since stumbled to 5-9. While not the start they were looking for, Towns, Ant and DLo are far from out of the NBA’s expanded playoff picture.

And unlike what we have seen since the Karl-Anthony Towns era began, this team has a losing record because they can’t function offensively. Any wins or close games can be attributed to a new attitude, effort and execution on the defensive side of the ball.

Numbers (via NBA.com) tell the story.

TimberwolvesPPGFG%EFG%3PT%STLBLKTOTOV%DRATORAT
Offense23rd28th26th24thXXXXXX28th29thXXX26th
Defense18th10th7th3rd6th7thXXX1st13thXXX

Stop rubbing your eyes. The statistical rankings above, which are correct, won’t change. What you see is real. The Minnesota Timberwolves rank in the top-half (usually better) in just about every defensive metric that matters in basketball. Offensively, you see the struggle is very real.

While it’s probably not what Chris Finch foreshadowed when he and the Wolves coaching staff put so much emphasis on defense in the offseason, I’d bet they’d keep it over the alternative. Yes, through 14 games the offensive numbers are horrid. But, it’s impossible they continue to be that poor.

Better rebounding would help both the defense and offense because the Wolves rank near the bottom of the NBA in just about every rebounding category this season. If nothing else, they need to find a way to limit possessions for the other team by rebounding on the defensive side. That would lead to even better numbers on defense and easier opportunities to improve where they are offensively.

Too much talent

Between Anthony Edwards, Karl Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Chris Finch (who wasn’t hired for his defensive prowess) the Timberwolves have too much offensive talent to keep caged up forever.

It’s just a matter of time before all of that offensive firepower gets aimed and fires synchronously, with the proper igniter. Until then, continued emphasis and effort on defense will keep Minnesota in a lot of fun-to-watch games.

And if they can continue to play solid defensively, even when the offensive pendulum swings back in their favor, then we might actually see what the ceiling might be for this era of Minnesota Timberwolves

Back-to-back

The Wolves got a win on Wednesday night over the Sacramento Kings and play from either team left much to be desired. But Anthony Edwards got hot late and helped will his team to a much-needed victory. On Thursday, they get another very winnable game at home against the San Antonio Spurs.

Both the Kings and Spurs are teams who the Timberwolves will have to beat as the season progresses because they currently project as competitors for the play-in playoff tournament. Minnesota has struggled with back-to-back games again this season and have put extra emphasis on winning tonight’s matchup because of it.

Thursday night is a maturity test for a Wolves squad that claims it’s ready to take serious steps forward as a team in 2021-22.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan