Reason I: Perimeter defense upgraded
One of the greatest challenges to the Timberwolves 2022-23 NBA season was the lack of perimeter shooting on offense, and the absence of challenging opposing shooters at the perimeter on defense. Thankfully, the Timberwolves’ perimeter defense has gotten stingier. But in the early part of the 2022-23 NBA season, opponents learned quickly that the best way to defeat the Wolves was to simply line up shooters at the arc and launch a salvo of three-point shots.
On the flip side, the lack of solid perimeter shooters on the Timberwolves roster after the injury to Karl-Anthony Towns stood out like a sore thumb. And that combination of bad perimeter defense and bad perimeter shooting was a huge item on the Timberwolves’ punch list of things to correct early in the season.
The Timberwolves had SF Jaden McDaniels, SG Anthony Edwards, and even PF Kyle Anderson mustering a defensive effort. But with players like D’Angelo Russell, Taurean Prince, and others struggling to defend opponents, the Timberwolves often found themselves beaten by sharpshooters.
That all changed with the addition of PG Mike Conley Jr. and SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Not only did the Timberwolves add a pair of dependable three-point shooters, but both players were very comfortable at defending the perimeter. And that was just the beginning.
This year, the Timberwolves roster welcomes rookie F Leonard Miller, rookie SG Jaylen Clark, and veteran F Troy Brown Jr. as well as veteran G Shake Milton. All four additions excel at perimeter defense, perimeter shooting, or both.
With a stingier perimeter defense, opposing teams will be forced to attempt driving to the basket once more, and that sets up Rudy Gobert perfectly this season. Even as the ascension of Anthony Edwards as the team leader of the team has added a bit of grit and swag to the entire organization, the restoration of Rudy Gobert to his All-NBA Defense team this year will have a dramatically positive impact on the Minnesota Timberwolves as well.