Analyzing the Minnesota Timberwolves’ pick-and-roll defense

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a mediocre pick-and-roll defense so let’s examine the two main type of coverages they run.

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ defense has been up and down (mostly down) throughout the season. They started out the year awful, but then had a stretch where they played really well from Mid-to-late December until the middle of January. Unfortunately, they’re in the middle of another downswing again.

There are certainly a lot of factors at play and components we can easily identify as the issue.

However, their pick-and-roll defense is not what one of the main issues. They currently rank 14th in the NBA by allowing 0.83 points per possession to the roll man and 18th by allowing 1.09 points per possession to the roll man.

Although that may not seem like something to write home about (or to make a video about), the Timberwolves would be in a much better position if their total defense hovered around that mediocre range.

In the following video, I examine the two main types of coverages the Timberwolves employ against their opponents: Fighting through screens and switching. While there are a lot more detailed coverages that go into pick-and-roll, let’s keep things simple for the time being and just focus on the overarching strategies:


If the Timberwolves can get back to mixing up their coverages, they will be a lot more difficult team to play against. As we saw against the Houston Rockets, when they become too predictable, opposing teams will gameplan against them and take full advantage.

I’m sure Tom Thibodeau is all over that, as he’s a defensive guru and a film junkie. For now, let’s wait patiently while we see what the head coach can come up with over the All-Star break.