Minnesota Timberwolves: Takeaways from preseason loss to Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 10: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 10: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves lost their second consecutive preseason game on Thursday night to Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

It’s only preseason. It’s only preseason. It’s only preseason.

Yes, the Minnesota Timberwolves are 0-2, but it’s only preseason. It isn’t quite time to worry.

After all, Karl-Anthony Towns played just 22 minutes and didn’t exactly function as a focal point when he was on the floor, shooting just 3-of-7 from the floor and putting up nine points, three rebounds and three assists.

Stephen Curry, on the other hand, only played 25 minutes but still managed to launch 19 shots, making 14 of them and six of his nine 3-point attempts en route to an insane 40 points, plus six rebounds, six assists, and two steals.

The Wolves hung around for the entire first half and led for portions of the second quarter before trailing by a 70-64 margin at the break.

The Warriors pulled away in the second half behind Curry, plus strong showings from D’Angelo Russell and rookie Jordan Poole.

Let’s take a look at a few quick takeaways from the game.

1. Wolves’ backcourt defense

Okay, so the obvious caveats are that a) it’s preseason, and b) it’s Curry and Russell.

But that said, the Wolves’ backcourt defense left plenty to be desired. For stretches, head coach Ryan Saunders tried putting both Jeff Teague and Shabazz Napier on the floor at the same time, and the results were decidedly mixed.

Treveon Graham started the game and finished with a +2 in 17 minutes; his length and athleticism bothered the Warriors at least a bit on defense. While single-game plus-minus can always be taken with several grains of salt, it’s notable that Graham was the only Wolves player with a positive mark in that column.

2. The wing rotation

Graham held down the fifth starting spot two days after Jake Layman started in Phoenix. Graham, Layman, Keita Bates-Diop, and rookie Jaylen Nowell each logged exactly 17 minutes, however, and this is clearly a spot that Saunders is still exploring what his options are.

It’s fair to expect Saunders to mix-and-match for the balance of preseason, and possibly well into the regular season schedule. The Wolves have plenty of wings, and outside of Robert Covington, Andrew Wiggins, and rookie Jarrett Culver, it’s unclear who the next man up is.

Covington, Layman, and Bates-Diop have the advantage of being able to play the power forward spot, as Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell (eventually, when he’s healthy) are the only guys who figure to naturally slot in at the 4 as “traditional” big men.

3. Jarrett Culver

Jarrett Culver played a game-high 26 minutes and had a nice line: 17 points, five rebounds three assists, one steal, and one block with zero turnovers.

On the heels of a preseason debut with five turnovers while initiating the offense, the lack of miscues was extremely encouraging. With Teague (17 minutes) and Napier (22 minutes) sharing the court for stretches and Tyrone Wallace receiving a DNP-CD, Culver had more chances to run things, and he showed growth even from just 48 hours earlier.

He did shoot just 6-of-18 from the field, but in an encouraging twist, he knocked down 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Karl-Anthony Towns' role in the offense. dark. Next

Next up, the Wolves return to Minneapolis to play their lone true home game of the preseason. They’ll face-off against Maccabi Haifa on Sunday at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for their final two tune-up contests.