Minnesota Timberwolves Keys to Success in 2015-16: Three-point shooting

It’s interesting writing about the keys to “success” for the Minnesota Timberwolves next season, considering “success” next season would be winning about 30 games. While this team is definitely in rebuilding mode, the pieces are being assembled for a team that will eventually find themselves back in the playoffs.

In my last post, I discussed the defensive struggles of the Timberwolves this season, and how that must improve heading into next season. However, defense isn’t the only glaring issue with this team.

The Timberwolves were absolutely terrible at shooting the three-pointer this season. According to nba.com/stats, the Timberwolves finished the season with a three-point shooting percentage of 33.2%, good for 25th in the NBA. In today’s game, shooting the three-ball poorly is a major disadvantage.

To make matters worse, the Timberwolves hardly attempted any three-pointers this season. They finished dead last in the NBA in makes and attempts from beyond the arc, and much of this is due to the coaching philosophy of Flip Saunders, which I have written about previously. Saunders has a history of disrespecting the three-point line in his offensive systems, and this will have to change going into next season. While there were a number of injuries this season that undoubtedly had an impact, Saunders will nonetheless have to alter his system if he wants his team to have success.

While the numbers won’t necessarily show it, I feel like there are at least a few talented perimeter shooters on this Timberwolves team. Kevin Martin is the most consistent, and showed plenty of times throughout the season that he can fill it up. Chase Budinger, despite finding himself playing the power forward position a lot this season, can still hit the three. Shabazz Muhammad, Andrew Wiggins, and Gary Neal (if he’s on the roster next season) all have the ability to hit from deep. Additionally, Zach LaVine can catch fire and light it up as well.

Saunders needs to tweak his system to allow for more perimeter shooting in order to keep up with the rest of the NBA. There’s a reason so many great three-point shooting teams are advancing in the NBA Playoffs this season.

If the Timberwolves can move themselves into the middle of the pack in the three-point shooting rankings next season, it will be a huge boost to their win-loss record. In my opinion, having good perimeter shooting is a huge advantage and if a team has the shooters, they need to be utilized. Hopefully, Saunders will open up his system to allow more three-point shots because this will lead to more wins.