2 areas where the Minnesota Timberwolves’ defense could easily improve

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley blocks a shot. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley blocks a shot. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jarred Vanderbilt
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt (8) reaches for a rebound. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Timberwolves need to improve on the defensive glass

Perhaps this should go without saying, but it’s a fact that can easily be overlooked: defensive rebounding is vital to the overall success of any given team’s defensive unit.

After all, there are only three ways for an offensive possession to end:

  1. A made basket (field goal or free throw).
  2. A turnover.
  3. A defensive rebound.

Opponents are only shooting 43.7 percent from the field against the Wolves, which is the tenth-best mark in the league. Plus, the Wolves are turning teams over, currently ranking No. 6 in steals per game and No. 3 in opponent’s turnover percentage.

However, the Wolves are shooting themselves in the foot with a defensive rebounding rate of 69.9 percent — easily the worst mark in the league.

That means that of all the available defensive rebounds over the course of a game, more than 30 percent of them are gobbled up by the offense for a second-chance opportunity. It’s a frustrating hitch in what has otherwise been an extremely active, reliable, and impressive defensive unit.

Towns is grabbing a career-low 13.6 percent of available rebounds. If the season ended today it would be a shocking drop from last year’s mark of 17 percent, his career-best mark of 20 percent, which was achieved in each of his two All-Star campaigns.

The only other Wolves players with rebound rates in double-figures are Jarred Vanderbilt (16.3 percent) and Naz Reid (10.1 percent).

Head coach Chris Finch has shown a propensity to play bigger lineups than his predecessor. Former coach Ryan Saunders used to play small, with wings like Robert Covington and Josh Okogie at the 4. Other than a pair of recent games with Reid missing and Vanderbilt functioning as the backup center, Finch is far more likely to play big, such as with a Reid-Towns combo in the frontcourt at times and McDaniels playing mostly small forward, than he is to play small.

No matter what the lineup combination, however, the Wolves simply need to do a better job securing the defensive glass. Their defense has been too good to allow themselves to give up points due to a plethora of second-chance opportunities.

Next. The Wolves must improve their shot distribution. dark

Yes, the Wolves have a much better defense than anyone reasonably expected. But it could be that much better if they simply cut back on the fouls and improve their defensive rebounding. And as long as the offense continues to flounder, the more points the Wolves can prevent, the better chance they have at winning games.