Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 things the Wolves can learn from the playoffs

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Things the Minnesota Timberwolves can learn: The importance of two-way bigs

Another thing that has been readily apparent in the 2021 playoffs is the importance of two-way players, specifically in the frontcourt. This year has been witness to more playoff blowouts than any year in recent memory and almost every one of these games has been the result of either a defensive breakdown or severe lack of spacing.

Enes Kanter was completely removed from the Portland rotation due to his inability to provide any more defense than a traffic cone against the league’s Most Valuable Player, Nikola Jokic. Kanter finished the series with a jaw-dropping net rating of -31.2 per 100 possessions, significantly contributing to the Blazers loss and ultimate franchise reset in recent days.

Likewise, the Celtics and New York Knicks’ lack of stretch bigs prevented their respective teams from putting forth any semblance of competition due to their inability to space the floor on the offensive end.

Thompson’s complete lack of 3-point shooting clogged the lane, forcing Boston to run their offensive exclusively through Jayson Tatum isolations in a desperate attempt to keep up with Brooklyn’s offensive firepower.

Meanwhile, the shooting struggles of Julius Randle, who finished the playoffs shooting under 30 percent from the field, allowed Atlanta to stack the paint with Capela and Collins. The end result was an early five-game exit for Tom Thibodeau’s offensively-challenged Knicks.

Similarly, one of the major challenges for Minnesota is their current roster construction full of one-way players who may prove to be unplayable in a playoff series.

One can easily envision a future where Jarred Vanderbilt and Josh Okogie’s lack of perimeter scoring allows a playoff opponent to stack the paint, limiting Anthony Edwards’ dynamic downhill drives. Equally concerning is the idea that Naz Reid or Juancho Hernangomez’s defensive ineptitude could turn a close game into a blowout in only a handful of possessions.

Minnesota must find a way to develop their core talent into capable two-way players while also acquiring additional two-way players that can be trusted upon come playoff time.