The Minnesota Timberwolves will be taking on one of the great tanking teams in the league on Friday: the New York Knicks. What is there to watch for?
When it comes to losing, the New York Knicks do it better than almost anyone. Coming into their matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York is 11-47 — a .190 winning percentage that is the second worst in the league.
For a Wolves team that is just 4-6 in its last 10, facing off against such a crappy team should be a nice confidence boost.
After playing much of their January and February games with injuries, Minnesota will be returning post-All-Star break pretty healthy with Tyus Jones likely rejoining the lineup.
While the Timberwolves are just 8-20 on the road this season, the Knicks are 4-23 at home. Who wants it more?
1. Knicks’ inefficiency
The Knicks are one of the most inefficient teams in the league, which is to be expected with their record. New York has the worst effective field goal percentage in the league. They have the worst percentage at the rim and the second-worst from 3. Yikes!
They don’t take efficient shots, either, which doesn’t help. New York shoots the 12th most mid-range shots and the fourth-least corner 3-pointers. They are in the top half of the league in attempts at the rim, but they just don’t make them.
It’s simple for the Wolves here: allow them to shoot bad shots and things should work out naturally in their favor.
2. Getting Tyus Jones back into the mix
As mentioned earlier, the Wolves are a lot healthier now. After a month absence, Tyus Jones will be returning to the mix.
This will not be a seamless transition. Minnesota is pretty loaded at guard now, with Jones, Jeff Teague, and Derrick Rose all healthy. Josh Okogie is the starter next to Teague while Jones and Rose are slated to come off the bench.
But what about Jerryd Bayless? He played well when called upon and shouldn’t have to go back to riding the bench.
Maybe Ryan Saunders will work Jones back slowly and Bayless will still get some run, but this will be something to monitor over time.
3. Sloppy post-All-Star break play
Taking over a week off, with many players going on vacation and enjoying themselves, it’s hard to imagine teams hitting the ground running.
Maybe it will just take a few minutes or a quarter to get back into the flow of things, but players may get tired a little more quickly in this first game back.
Hopefully this is not the case, as Wolves vs. Knicks wouldn’t be a terribly exciting matchup at any point during the season. There are no promises that this one won’t get sloppy.