The Minnesota Timberwolves must improve their defense

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball against D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball against D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ offense has looked good since the trade deadline, but the defense must improve if the team is going to turn the corner.

The Minnesota Timberwolves made a lot of moves before the NBA Trade Deadline that brought in a ton of new faces. Since then, the team has played in six games and have an overall record of 1-5.

The new-look Wolves haven’t been healthy as D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns have only played together in one game, and the team is still working on building chemistry with this new group.

Despite these factors working against them, the Wolves’ offense in the last six games has looked good, but there’s still a lot of work to be done on the defensive end of the floor.

Looking at the positives first, Minnesota has done well scoring the ball, even with the injuries they’ve sustained and plugging in their G League players. Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin are just a couple of players that have provided Minnesota with a much-needed spark after the deadline.

In the last six games, the Timberwolves are third in the NBA in points per game with 122.0, trailing only the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks. Overall this season they sit 13th in that category, and while it’s a smaller sample size, their recent run shows the improvements this team has made.

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Since making these moves, the biggest improvement on offense has been the team’s ability to shoot the ball from three. The Timberwolves have emphasized a modern style of play emphasizing 3-point shooting and baskets at the rim under their new regime. While that idea is a smart move to make, Minnesota couldn’t shoot the ball from distance like they would have liked with their roster they started the season with.

This season Minnesota is 29th in the NBA in 3-point percentage while shooting the third-most attempts per game.

Since the trades, Minnesota is shooting 42.8 3-pointers per game, good for second in the league. Their shooting percentage has improved as they are now making 39.7 percent of those attempts and sit fifth in the NBA in that category during this stretch.

Adding new players like Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and James Johnson have been a major plus alongside the obvious upgrade with the addition of D’Angelo Russell.

It’s still early and defense takes more time to figure out than offense, but Minnesota has not looked good on that end of the floor. In these six games, they are allowing 126.8 points per game – including surrendering 137 points to the Toronto Raptors and 139 in their most recent game against the Dallas Mavericks.

In those two games, Minnesota was able to score 126 and 123 points respectively. While that’s usually enough to win games, it’s hard to do so when your defense isn’t clicking. Things will hopefully gel and trend in a positive direction when they have some players return from injury and have more time to work on things, but thus far it has been something of concern.

Towns hasn’t been the best on defense this season, but the Wolves have certainly missed his presence on the interior. Minnesota is currently plugging in undrafted rookie Naz Reid in the starting lineup, and as talented as he is offensively, he has had a tough time on defense. In the last two games Reid has picked up early fouls and screwed up the Wolves’ big man rotation.

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Minnesota will figure things out on both sides of the ball with more time and with players returning from injury, but the defense still remains a concern despite the offense trending in the right direction.