Queue up the Minnesota Timberwolves for another edition of the NBA League Shuffle. For this particular playlist, we will use the games between the 13th and the 20th of November. Even though the Timberwolves haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, many people feel that they are on the cusp of breaking that trend this year. Maybe they will make the playoffs, but for now, only this playlist of games is up for review.
The Timberwolves went 2-2 (W-L) during the week. They beat the Los Angeles Lakers 125-99 and cruised past the Philadelphia 76ers 110-86. Unfortunately, they found the opposition a bit tougher against the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies as they dropped both of those games 115-108 and 93-71.
When things went right…
Point guard Ricky Rubio was able to dish the ball to Andrew Wiggins, Zach Levine, and Karl Anthony Towns for ample scoring opportunities. Here is an example of Rubio executing a no-look pass to Wiggins.
Easy two points.
The bench players represented by Nemanja Bjelica, Adreian Payne, Kris Dunn, Tyus Jones, and Cole Aldrich played quality minutes. Kris Dunn played great perimeter defense. Aldrich and Payne guarded the paint well. Payne actually showed outside range by hitting a few 3’s.
Against the Lakers and with Zach Levine out due to injury, Andrew Wiggins scored a career-high 47 points. He made 3’s, scored off dribble penetration, hit turnaround jumpers, and pretty much any other shot he took went in.
When things went wrong…
The third quarter blues – for some reason, the Timberwolves were routinely outscored in the third quarter: 36-17 versus the Hornets, 22-13 versus the Grizzlies, and 26-18 against the Lakers (they were able win this game, though).
Ricky Rubio struggled a bit on the defensive end trying to stay in front of Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker. To be fair to Rubio, the whole team struggled with their defensive rotations during key fourth quarter possessions as they left opposing players wide open around the basket for easy scores. The example below starts with Kemba Walker dribbling toward the screener.
Kemba makes the pass as the screener “rolls” to the basket.
One extra pass and the screener is ready to receive the ball for an easy two points.
This basket in particular sealed the Hornets win. One thing to point out, though, is that the Timberwolves are not a bad defensive team. However, if they could improve a bit defensively, they wouldn’t have to rely so much on their offense; specifically Towns, Wiggins, and Levine, to each score around 20 a night. Sometimes, the shots don’t fall.
This team can score points. They are great in transition with Ricky Rubio leading the break; hopefully, he can stay healthy. Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Zach Levine combine to from a solid trio of all-around basketball players. Andre Wiggins is playing like an All-Star, Towns can play in the post and score from the outside. He doesn’t take plays off on the defensive end of the court, either. Levine is all over the court. We all know about his athleticism. The Timberwolves also have a solid bench with Nemanja Bjelica hitting three’s, good frontcourt depth with Cole Aldrich and Adreian Payne, and Kris Dunn provides options at guard. I can see why people believe in the foundation of this basketball team, but the Timberwolves still need to grow as they make too many mistakes on the defensive end, and they can’t seem to win the close games yet. Hopefully, the cliché of “knowing how to win” will indeed come with experience.