Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 early-season Wolves takeaways

D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves has had a rough start to the season. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves has had a rough start to the season. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Malik Beasley
Malik Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been part of the problem on offense. (Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves Early-Season Takeaway No. 2: Overall offensive struggles

The offense was not supposed to be a concern for the Timberwolves this season. It was supposed to be virtually a given that a group with the best-shooting big man of all time in Towns, an explosive 20-year-old with an improving jumper in Edwards, and a smooth-shooting lead guard in Russell would be a top-10 unit.

Alas, the Wolves rank No. 23 in offensive rating through five games. A defensive unit that ranks No. 6 has allowed Minnesota to win three of their first five games, but an average offensive performance would have given the Wolves a shot at a perfect 5-0 mark.

Through the first three games, the issues were purely related to execution. The Wolves were getting stops on defense, leading the league in steals, blocks, and opponent turnovers, but their failures to turn defense into offense were surprising.

The Wolves simply could not cash in on fast break opportunities, struggling with spacing and decision-making in the open floor. When they were shut down in transition, the secondary break was just as poor, and they were simply never able to get into their half-court offense.

Beginning with the win over the Bucks, the offense at least began to show signs of coming to life. That includes the loss to Denver over the weekend that dropped the Wolves’ record to 3-2; the offense itself looked much improved in terms of ball movement and generating open shots both from outside the arc and in the paint.

The issue has turned into a lack of shot-making. Clearly, this is an issue that will prove to be more cyclical than anything else; there’s no reason to think that the likes of Russell, Malik Beasley, and Taurean Prince suddenly went from above-average shooters to incapable of making open shots. Edwards, who shot 0-for-6 from deep against the Nuggets and missed more than a couple point-blank attempts, will rarely have such poor shooting nights.

In other words, the offense is improving, and much brighter days are ahead. It’s likely that we’ll look back at late October as a second wave of preseason games for the Wolves offense, and this will almost certainly end up being a top-12 unit by the end of the season.