How well will Timberwolves compete against bad teams this year?

Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports /

Stay focussed

One of the first challenges facing the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2023-24 NBA season is beating bad teams. To do that, the Timberwolves have got to do a better job of staying focused. How bad did it get last season? Against the seven least successful teams last season, the Timberwolves could only play to a 6-13 record.

That’s alarmingly bad.

  • Team                                     Rank        Vs Wolves
  • Detroit Pistons                     30               2-0
  • San Antonio Spurs               29               2-2
  • Houston Rockets                 28               1-3
  • Charlotte Hornets                27               2-0
  • Portland Trail Blazers          26               3-1
  • Orlando Magic                       25               1-1
  • Washington Wizards           24               2-0

But were there any extenuating circumstances? Were the Timberwolves reeling from some sudden bad news like an instant injury? Well, three common elements seemed to be present in losses to bad teams.  They are:

Second half letdowns

While not always the dominating characteristic, more often than not the Timberwolves were up against the ropes in the second half, and simply failed to rally. Whether it was an inability to sink perimeter shots, defend the perimeter, or simply be overwhelmed with rebounds by the opponent, the Timberwolves seemed to have no energy.

The Timberwolves often lost first-half leads, as was the case against the Pistons on December 31, 2022, or to the Hornets on November 25, 2022. On other occasions, the Wolves fell behind early, but were unable to rally in the second half, much like the loss to the Wizards on November 28, 2022.

The Timberwolves either shot horrifically from the perimeter, were beaten at rebounding by a sizable difference, or could not defend perimeter shots by the opponent. So has the Timberwolves front office addressed any of those weaknesses in the meantime?  Let’s pick apart the Timberwolves’ effort to improve in those three areas.