Minnesota Timberwolves’ season has been a net rating roller coaster

Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves have been part of a net rating roller coaster this season. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves have been part of a net rating roller coaster this season. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

While it’s fair to say that the Minnesota Timberwolves have had a roller coaster of a season, there have been far more downs than ups. After all, the team has the league’s worst record, so there couldn’t have been that many high points to this stage.

But to describe the Wolves’ net rating as a roller coaster would be accurate. A new graph circulating the Twitterverse does a great job at capturing the fits and starts that Minnesota has had in terms of being competitive.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been on a net rating roller coaster

Net rating measures team success per 100 possessions. It’s not exactly the same as point differential, but the end number is generally similar, as the net rating formula is a team’s defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) subtracted from offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions).

Put simply, net rating is effectively a measure of how competitive a team is on a night-to-night basis.

Positive Residual tweeted a graphic showing net ratings in 10-game rolling intervals for all 30 teams.

It’s a fascinating way to get a snapshot of each team’s season to this point. For instance, the Houston chart clearly shows the timeframe during which James Harden was traded.

Minnesota, Cleveland, Detroit, and Oklahoma City are the only teams who have stayed below the threshold of zero for the entire season to this point.

The Wolves’ roller coaster has remained entirely below that mark, whereas teams like Sacramento and Washington have had more drastic peaks and valleys that have sent them into positive net rating territory for 10-game blocks and far into negative territory for other segments of time.

Interestingly, the Wolves’ peak occurred around the 30-game mark. Former head coach Ryan Saunders’ last game was Game No. 31.

In fact, the Wolves hadn’t suffered a double-digit loss since Jan. 29 against Philadelphia. In Saunders’ final 13 games as head coach, his squad went 3-10 with 10 single-digit losses.

While the Timberwolves held the league’s worst record when Saunders was fired and still do as of today, this was the best stretch of their season in terms of net rating. The Wolves were competitive every night, which simply wasn’t the case early in the season or in the span of games surrounding the All-Star break.

Next. Evaluating Wolves' roster from top to bottom. dark

Right or wrong, a big reason Saunders was fired related directly to the Wolves’ failures in close and late situations. If a handful of those games had swung the other way, the rest of the season would have surely played out much differently for both Saunders and the Wolves.