Despite an 8-5 record so far this season, the Timberwolves, somewhat unexpectedly, still have one of the worst defenses in the entire NBA.
When Tom Thibodeau joined the Minnesota Timberwolves as their Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations, they were getting a highly-regarded coach and arguably one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA.
One of the few things that was expected of Thibs taking over a struggling Wolves team was that the defense would improve.
Now in his second year at the helm of the Timberwolves, the team’s defense has yet to improve — even with the addition of two outstanding defensive veterans in Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson at the start of 2017-18 season.
Minnesota ranks near the bottom of the league in numerous defensive categories. The Wolves are ranked last in both opponent field goal percentage (50.3), opponent points off turnovers (22.3 points per game) and opponent effective shooting percentage (56.1). Minnesota is also last in the NBA in defensive efficiency and has struggled to contest shots all over the floor.
Fast Break Struggles
With all of the athletes that the Wolves have at their disposal, it is puzzling that they struggle on the fast break.
Defensively, Minnesota gives up 16.6 fast break points per game, which remains last in the NBA. (To put that number in perspective, the Milwaukee Bucks only allows 5.9 fast break points per game and rank first.)
A number of factors go into fast break defense. One of these factors is knowing when to go for offensive rebounds and when to get back on defense. There are times that Towns will go after rebounds he has no chance to get and has no time to get back on defense. A related factor is sprinting back; some Wolves tend to jog back on defense (often, Andrew Wiggins) and get beat down the floor.
There are even times that Minnesota will give up fast break points after a made field goal, which is typically due to a team-wide breakdown.
On the other side of the court, the Timberwolves don’t get out and run on offense, either. Minnesota is only averaging 7.2 fast break points per game, which is 27th in the NBA.
If the Wolves want to make any noise in the Western Conference, they will need to drastically improve their defensive numbers. They will also have to use their athleticism to their advantage and get out on the fast break more often.