Despite the team’s much-improved play since the beginning of January, the Timberwolves have had a rough season overall but there are a number of intriguing stats buried within…
While the Timberwolves have been playing better of late, this season has, for the most part, been largely disappointing. Whether from game-to-game or quarter-to-quarter, this team has been extremely inconsistent. Of course, With a young team like this, this shouldn’t come as a total surprise.
However, there have been some very irregular stats that have popped out this season. These are the stats that no one could have predicted or even rationalize.
Fourth quarter struggles at home
While we have all heard of when the Timberwolves struggles to hold on to leads this year; what might be surprising is where those struggles occur. You’d think that a young team would be prone to these fourth quarter mistakes in opposing team’s arenas, but as it turns out, they’ve been a net positive in the final quarter on the road.
It’s actually at home where their problems lie, posting a -10.1 net rating at home in the fourth quarter. The regression occurs largely on the less-glamorous end, where they’re defensive rating is 114.7, 9.8 points worse than at Target Center.
This is surprising, even for a young, inconsistent Timberwolves team. Rarely do you see a team play better in the fourth quarter on the road then at home, especially on the defensive side. Hopefully, Tom Thibodeau will correct this weird stat and this young team starts playing up to the level they’ve shown on the road in front of their crowd during the final stretch of the season.
Improvement without Zach LaVine on the floor
As devastating as the LaVine injury has been to Timberwolves fans, the numbers indicate that the Timberwolves are better on the floor without him. Most fans expect the team to be better on the defensive side without the two-time dunk champ, but the team scoring more per 100 possessions with him off the floor is quite puzzling.
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I’m not suggesting that the team is better off without him; LaVine is a key part of this young core that’s looking to wreak havoc on the league for years to come. However, the team needs to find a way to translate his talent to team success, or else simply hope that the numbers are deceiving.
Nemanja Bjelica‘s shooting splits
Although he’s 28-years-old, Bjelica suffers from the same inconsistency as the rest of these young players. His staggering regression from behind the arc is particularly surprising as he’s shooting about ten percent worse on the road than at home. While most player’s shooting regresses on the road, but the difference usually isn’t to this degree.
With 13 more road games on the docket and the Timberwolves looking to clinch that final playoff spot, fans are hoping he consistently shoots like he’s in Target Center for the rest of the season.
The Timberwolves have had the personnel to be a good defensive team since last season, and Thibodeau was supposed to be the man to steer them in that direction. Sixty-two games in, however, they’re only allowing 0.2 points less per 100 possesion and have gone from being ranked 27th in defensive ranking efficiency to 23rd, showing only marginal improvement.
It’s taken longer for the young pups to adjust to their coach’s schemes and maybe it’s our fault for expecting too much from this team, but with athletes like Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns on the roster and Thibodeau consistently fielding elite defenses, fans can’t really be blamed for that.
At the very least, we thought they would consistently improve as the season goes on. Instead, they followed up their best defensive month in January with a season high defensive rating in February. It’s no wonder Tom Thibodeau is constantly fuming on the sidelines.
With an extremely tough schedule ahead, the Timberwolves need to build on their defensive performance from January rather then its February regression if they want to win games.