The Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday night provided a blueprint on how Ryan Saunders should run his offense.
The Mavs have the number one offense in the league through the first 20 games and all the credit has gone to Luka Doncic with an insane 35.5% usage rate, but Rick Carlisle deserves some praise as well for designing this offense.
Carlisle is running a heavy spread pick-and-roll game with Doncic at point guard while Dwight Powell and Kristaps Porzingis often set screens for Luka in the same play giving the Slovenian sensation three lanes to attack the rim with Powell rolling to the rim as a lob target and Porzingis popping for three. During that action, two wings are parked in the corners giving Doncic plenty of space to take his time dribbling in the paint and reading the defense and having four passing options in all four directions.
Doncic’s skill level and size at 6-foot-7 allows him to either pass or drive to the rim off of that action.
The Wolves could learn from their matchup against the Mavs as they have similar personnel to run this type of offense.
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Karl-Anthony Towns is much better at popping than Porzingis as KAT is knocking down 42.7% of his threes while Kristaps is only hitting 35%.
The Wolves rarely use a roll man, but Jordan Bell has similar size and athleticism to Dwight Powell and could be a poor man”s version of Powell on the offensive end.
Lastly, Andrew Wiggins hasn’t proven to be the same level of playmaker as Doncic, but in his defense he has never had an elite rolling big man, and given his usage/turnover rate I would give Wiggins a shot at playing in the same style as Luka.
Since Teague has been playing with the second unit, Wiggins has looked to slow down a bit on his drives and put his defender in jail on his hip to read the defense, much like Luka Doncic does. And while Wiggins has struggled to score in the paint lately, his free throw attempts have gone up this season.
And with Wiggins being more athletic than Doncic, if he had three lanes to attack the rim he could have a similar or better conversation rate at the rim.
Also, Wiggins has been shooting the three-ball better than Doncic this year, and most of Andrew’s outside shooting success has come off the dribble.
If given consistent reps in that role, who knows how high Wiggins’ ceiling could be? With Luka already being an MVP candidate, Maple Jordan might actually reach that number one overall pick type of potential in this type of offense.
I know this all sounds like I favor Andrew Wiggins over KAT and I’m crazy for doing so, but the reality is its much harder to build a KAT-centric offense. Running the offense through Towns means that he will have to pass it out to his teammates often because it’s much easier to double KAT in the post than Wiggins on the perimeter.
With those double teams crashing in on Towns you often need four good shooters around him, but in a Wiggins-run offense you only need two outside shooter along with a popping KAT and a rolling big man.
In today’s NBA shooters are expensive and rolling bigs are cheap, so a Wiggins-based offense would be much more sustainable.