Perimeter defense? Timberwolves need another Wendell Moore Jr

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

I think that there is a general consensus that the Minnesota Timberwolves need more perimeter defense. And the Timberwolves are not the least bit surprised with the way this team has constructed its roster. After all, the Timberwolves’ dominance in the paint has altered the strategy of teams that must conceive alternatives to banging the boards and driving to the basket.

The problem so far this season is just how effective opponents have been at scoring from the perimeter. Surprised? Neither you nor the Timberwolves organization should be, as the team should have seen this coming from the moment that the team added All-Star center Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves roster.

The team did try to retain solid defense on this roster and build upon it. The Timberwolves kept wing Jaden McDaniels. Adding to the defense, the team signed forward Kyle Anderson. And even star SG Anthony Edwards committed to focusing on his defensive performance this season. Each aspect has had mixed levels of success so far. But that is not where this story ends . . .

Timberwolves roster reinforcements are on the way

The Timberwolves entered this season with 15 players and two players on Two-Way contracts. But like a new toolbox, the Timberwolves’ roster is filled with unfamiliar players whose strengths and useful purposes have yet to be determined. Much of the disconnect and dysfunction witnessed by fans to this point in the season is that painful experimental process of determining the capabilities and limits of players on this roster.

And, as we are still learning, there are plenty of surprises in this team and among even the most senior of veterans.  The trouble is that Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch must address each player on the roster with a mindset of: “I wonder what this player can do?” and then see how that player responds to those game conditions.  And it’s that slow and tedious process that must be used to discover who on the team can bring reinforcements to the perimeter defense.

Curiously, they may have some, as the performance of rookie wing Wendall Moore Jr. has been rather promising in terms of wing defense. And I don’t think that I’m the only one noticing:

Moore, although a rookie, was targeted by the Timberwolves in the 2022 NBA Draft specifically for his promising role as a 3-and-D wing. While he is still developing the ability to shoot consistently from the perimeter in the NBA, he has taken to defending at the NBA level as a fish takes to water.

Rookie Moore is still not getting steady playing time, even as the Timberwolves roster has dwindled in terms of the number of healthy players. That could be the best approach right now, as the limited minutes are giving Moore time to use that exposure to live play to improve and focus his training on the court.

How good can Wendell Moore Jr. become on the Minnesota Timberwolves? That remains to be seen. But the reality is that he has the right skill set and the right team needs to make a huge difference rather quickly.  Will he deliver this unique match of player and opportunity?

Stay Tuned…

Hot. Minnesota Timberwolves treys, you say? Take me to the Rivers . . .. light