James Wiseman could be a fit for the Minnesota Timberwolves

James Wiseman of the Memphis Tigers could be a Minnesota Timberwolves target in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
James Wiseman of the Memphis Tigers could be a Minnesota Timberwolves target in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, James Wiseman
PORTLAND, OREGON – NOVEMBER 12: James Wiseman #32 of the Memphis Tigers. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /


Timberwolves associate head coach and defensive coordinator David Vanterpool simplified the defense for Towns by allowing him to basically only defend the paint. Ultimately, it rendered poor results because professional scorers simply make their uncontested pull-up jump-shots from the midrange.

Ball-handlers get free from their defender on a screen and pull-up with Towns too far away to contest their shot. And even though those midrange shots were technically low efficiency, any shot if uncontested is efficient for the best players in the NBA.

In addition, the Wolves as a team are in the bottom-third in contesting 3-pointers (per NBA.com). This is in part due to  Towns’ inability to be in position to contest shots; the perimeter defenders are forced to help more inside. This leaves wide-open shooters on the outside which results in teams shooting much better from three with Towns on the floor.

Basically nobody, Towns included, has the mobility to contest pull-up jump shots while back-pedaling 20 feet and containing two players at the same time close to the basket, and it’s no disrespect to Towns, not many players can do that very well.

For example, All-NBA center Nikola Jokic is also bad at drop coverage in the pick-and-roll, and as a result, the Nuggets changed their defensive strategy two years ago, and ever since been competitive. Instead of dropping back, Jokic always hedges the ball-handler. This puts most of the pressure on his teammates behind him to protect the rim, and with good defensive power forwards like Paul Millsap it resulted in the defense being above average instead of the bottom in the NBA.

Rosas and the coaching staff must find a different defensive scheme in order to help Towns and, hopefully, a mobile power forward, effectively operate defensively. The sample size with Towns as a rim protector is already quite large, so playing somewhere else is the only option by now.

In five seasons, Towns has never had an individual defensive rating better than 109.2, per NBA.com. And the more telling statistic is that his best standing in defensive rating among centers playing at least 20 minutes per game is No. 34.

Towns’ size and length makes it tough for shooters, and his lateral quickness is good enough to defend 1 through 5 with at least some effectiveness. Basically, Towns can be a good defender if you don’t ask him to defend two players. Towns can also be a solid help defender, coming up with huge blocks from the weak side and rebounding at a high rate.

At 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, Wiseman doesn’t look exactly like a forward. Unlike a player like Millsap, Wiseman can be a primary rim protector.

What could make Wiseman a perfect fit with Towns is that he can also run with opposing power forwards in transition. He has rare athleticism for a 7-foot-1 big, and so many NBA teams these days play extremely small because pace and space being so key to winning, so having a big that can keep up and tower compete with freak athletes like Giannis, Zion, and AD would be game-changing.

James Wiseman has the physical tools to be an elite rim protector, would singlehandedly transform this defense from one of the worst in the NBA to one of the best.

One clear example is the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert. This side of Gobert, the only plus-defender on the Jazz is probably Royce O’Neal, an undersized 6-foot-4 wing who is in some ways similar to what the Wolves now have in Josh Okogie.

Still, the Jazz are No. 11 in defense this year in defensive rating on NBA.com, proving how valuable it is to have a true rim protector who can also switch and guard on the perimeter. For the Wolves, with sub-par defenders in D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Towns, the solution is to hide Towns on the perimeter and draft Wiseman.

In addition to being a game-changer defensively, Wiseman could make a huge different on offense, too…