5 Key improvements for the Timberwolves' starters in the second half of the season

A deep dive into how each starter can take their game to the next level

Minnesota Timberwolves v Chicago Bulls
Minnesota Timberwolves v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert
Minnesota Timberwolves v Portland Trail Blazers / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

Free Throw Percentage

A recurring issue in Gobert's career has been his vulnerability to the "Hack-a-Gobert" strategy, where opponents deliberately foul him to take advantage of his free throw shooting struggles. It is easy to forget during the regular season, but in the playoffs when every point is do-or-die, teams are more willing to employ this strategy.

The most effective counter to this tactic is obviously free throw accuracy, ideally shooting at a rate that surpasses the average points per possession, thereby rendering the tactic useless.

Gobert is shooting 64.5% from the free-throw line this season, and while Gobert's free-throw percentage is not nearly as bad as Shaquille O'Neal's when the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy was founded (53%), it can still cause problems, especially in tight games as the pressure ratchets up. The French big man shot 69% from the stripe just two seasons ago in 2021-22, a figure that would further limit the Hack-a-Gobert strategy.

If Gobert starts slumping from the line in the playoffs, Finch may be forced to take him off the court for a spell, a scary proposition, as the Wolves are over 10 points worse in net rating when he is off the court vs on (0.58 and 10.69 respectively).

If the Timberwolves can address even a few of these flaws, anything is on the table. Player development has been very strong under the new regime, a trend that, if continued, could pave the way for the team's ascent to the top of the NBA.

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