FG%: 46.5% (7th)
3FG%: 34.9% (22nd)
FT%: 79% (9th)
PTS Off TOs: 16.8 (10th)
2nd Chance PTS: 14.8 (4th)
Fastbreak PTS: 13.1 (15th)
OPP PTS Off TOs: 17.3 (24th)
OPP 2nd Chance PTS: 13.4 (23rd)
OPP Fastbreak PTS: 13.0 (13th)
OPP PITP: 45.1 (23rd)
Off Rat: 107.6 (11th)
Def Rat: 107.2 (22nd)
Net: 0.3 (14th)
AST%: 60% (10th)
DReb%: 76.2% (18th)
Tot Reb%: 51.6% (5th)
TS%: 55.3% (15th)
Pace: 97.00 (25th)
EFG%: 51.1% (15th)
FT Rate: 0.283 (11th)
TO%: 14.7% (21st)
OReb%: 27.4% (3rd)
OPP eFG%: 52.5% (25th)
OPP FT Rate: 0.274 (13th)
OPP TO%: 14.6% (14th)
OPP OReb%: 14.6 (18th)
% PTS 2P: 60.2% (3rd)
% PTS 2P MR: 17.5% (8th)
% PTS 3P: 21.8% (29th)
% PTS FB: 12.5% (14th)
% PTS FT: 17.9% (8th)
% PTS Off TO’s: 16.0% (12th)
% PITP: 42.7% (8th)
% 2PTS AST’d: 53.3% (7th)
% 2PTS UAST’d: 46.7% (24th)
% 3PTS AST’d: 87.5% (8th)
% 3PTS UAST’d: 12.5% (23rd)
As of 3/10/17
All stats from NBA.com
Michael: Let’s start with the obvious: this is the third youngest team in the Association. That being said, they have three of the best young players in the league in Towns, Wiggins and LaVine (Dieng is also only 27). Towns is in the top twenty players in PIE and before LaVine went out with an injury that ended up way worse than it looked, the three of them were all averaging over 20 points per game each. That base of players is exactly what Thibs was looking at when he chose to coach in Minnesota (and be in control of all things basketball).
Michael: There are some stats that jump out when looking at the Timberwolves season. On offense, the Pack is 3rd in offensive rebound percentage, they snag a crazy 27% of all possible offensive rebounds. Towns, Dieng and Wiggins account for just over 8 offensive rebounds per game. This creates almost 15 second chance points per game for 4th best in the league. Towns is a beast in this area, probably due to almost 60% of his shots coming from within 8 feet of the basket. This puts him in great position for rebounds on his own misses.
Tommy: I will definitely be looking to see what creates their stellar offensive rebounding numbers mixed with below average defensive rebounding. Their Opponent Offensive Rebound % ranks 18th, but the way in which they give them up drops them to 23rd in Opponent 2nd Chance PPG; this could indicate that the offensive rebounds are somewhat uncontested since opponents score more efficiently from the boards than the rate in which they obtain them. While they create over 14 PPG off their own misses, after giving away points on the other end, they don’t even hold a 2 point margin in 2nd Chance Points. Since the All Star Break, Minnesota’s Offensive Rebound % is up an additional 3% and they’re scoring an additional 3 2nd Chance Points.
Michael: The Pack lacks 3 point shooting across the board. In a game where a shot from 22+ feet nets you 1.5 times the scoring efficiency, this is a serious issue. The Wolves average just below 35% from three as a team, with only 21.8% of their points coming from three; which puts them above only the Chicago Bulls. That being said, the Timberwolves generate almost all of their 3 pointers off assists, 87.5%, and are able to create open looks. This make sense considering they do not have a point guard on their roster, specifically not Rubio or Dunn, who can generate open 3 point looks for themselves.
Tommy: With LaVine out, one of their better shooters, they have relied on an even higher total of Points in the Paint (+7 since ASB). Their 3 point attempts are down 5%, and 2pt attempts are up 5%.
Michael: Minnesota is middle of the road in fast break points, 13 points per game, which is relatively shocking considering how young and athletic the team is as a whole. It appears this is an outcome of Thibs desire to slow the game down: their Pace is 97.01 (25th). Thibodeau’s relatively straightforward, slow progressing offensive schemes of flex-based sets and high pick and rolls creates a lot of their offensive pace at the moment. In addition, the clear-outs for Towns’ post touches slows down the pace as well.
Tommy: Wiggins has increased his 3pt % every year, resulting in his career high percentage of points coming from 3 at 16%; Removing his hot shooting in November (42%), his season 3pt % drops closer to his career average at 31% over the last 3-and-a-half-months. As his deep range efficiency tanked, his percentage of points coming from the mid-range steadily increased by 6% from November to the end of February. His free throw percentage has improved 10% over the course of the season, but the problem is he only averages 6 per game.
Tommy: Turnovers are one reason they lose games. Relative to league average, they give the ball away more than they take it back.
Michael: While the turnover differential is rather high, they only give up 0.5 more points per game on turnovers than they generate for themselves.
Michael: The Timberwolves’ defense is in the bottom third of the league, which is counterintuitive considering what everyone says about Thibs being an incredible defensive coach. Guarding the pick and roll is a serious issue for the Wolves, but it appears to be a player identification issue, not a coaching issue. Thibs is still having the players ICE ball screens, but that requires both the on ball defender and screener’s defender recognize that that the pick and roll is coming. When the Wolves have time to set their defense, they are capable of executing the ICE pnr defense. When the game is going faster, the Wolves look lost in the same defensive sets. Dan Moore wrote a great in-depth explanation of this entire idea.
Tommy: As brought up by u/erickety on the T’Wolves Reddit, the officiating of Towns’ low post touches is contentious among Wolves fans. Since the All Star Break he’s 1st in 2 PT FGA, 2 PT FGA with a defender within 2 FT; He’s top 5 in paint and post touches as well. However his FTA and % Foul Drawn in the Post falls outside the top 50. This will be another thing I keep my eye on while watching games.
Tommy: Per u/thrannix on r/Timberwolves, Rubio is averaging 14, 11, 5 on 44%/39%/84% shooting since the All Star Break. Rubio’s pre-ASB usage rate jumped from 15% to 20% after the break.
Tommy: Minnesota is a team that could have a much better record. They are .500 at home and only have a better win percentage (37%) than the Nets and Lakers in Clutch games. In Clutch situations, their eFG plummets from the 51% team average to 44%.
Tommy: Evidenced by their recent hot streak, the post-LaVine injury starters (Rubio, Wiggins, Rush, Dieng, Towns) have worked out to be their best lineup (playing in at least 10 games, 5 MPG) with a +1.7 Net. Other than Adreian Payne (who averages less than 8 MPG) LaVine had the worst Defensive Rating on the team (only a point worse than Towns, but still). A major factor contributing to the hot streak has been holding opponents to 100 points/100 possessions since the All Star Break (108 before) and a considerably lower opponent effective field goal percentage (48%, -5% since ASB).
Tommy: With the exception of less success in December, Towns has increased his 23 PPG in November to 28 in the past month and a half. He improved on an already good 50% field goal percentage to an elite 62%. His better shooting partially comes from hitting over 38% from 3 since the start of February. In LaVine’s absence, his 3pt FGA has increased to nearly 4 per game. He’s taken over 7 times the 3s from above the break (35% FG) than in the corners; deadly from the left corner (52%) and below league-average (27%) from the right corner. A major reason he can be a nuisance on the offensive glass comes from his aggressiveness in the post: Lay Up (300+), Hook Shot (150+) and Dunk (100+) attempts significantly outweigh him using Fadeaways (24).
Tommy: Unlike KAT and Rubio, Wiggins hasn’t seen the same post-All Star Break success and finds himself in a bit of a slump. While his Net Rating has rocketed to +12 (-0.3 pre-ASB), his AST% (-5%) and eFG% (-9%) have dipped in consistent usage (+0.5%). His 2 point attempts are up (+7%) and his 3’s down (-7%).
Tommy: Looking at the impact from Rubio’s greater role in the offense since LaVine’s injury, here is a list of notable players with a higher rate of made shots coming from assists since the All Star Break: Wiggins 3pt (+14%), Wiggins 2pt (+5%), Towns 3pt (+7%), Bjelica 2pt (+11%), Bjelica 3pt (+5%).
Tommy: Gorgui Dieng accounts for 10% of Minnesota’s total points, and averages over a steal and block per game.