The Minnesota Timberwolves 2016-17 season started almost the opposite of expectations.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have not played as expected through the first 10 games of the season. When it comes to offensive efficiency, experts expect to see the Clippers, Cavaliers, Warriors and Raptors in the top five. What no one would expect is that a young, Tom Thibodeau-led team is number two in offensive efficiency.
Meanwhile, as Thibodeau is widely known as a defensive master, the Timberwolves are ranked 24 in defense. All predictions pointed toward a massive defensive improvement while the offense continued to develop.
Instead, Andrew Wiggins finally showed up as the all-star draft experts predicted him to be. Wiggins, with Karl-Anthony Towns as his partner in crime, has blown up offensively this season. Wiggins is averaging 26.6 points per game while he is shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc.
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Even with those impressive numbers, Wiggins’ play has transcended his stats. He has been moving much better off the ball, his passing and court vision have exponentially improved and his jump shot looks much more confident.
Despite everything impressive about the first 10 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves, they have still found ways to struggle. The Wolves are second in offensive efficiency, yet they could be even higher on that list.
In the first half of games this season, the Timberwolves are ranked as the league’s best offense by far. In the second half of games, the offense plummets to the fourth worst.
Whether one chalks that up to an uncertain pecking order, inexperience or a collective lack of the “clutch gene”, the Wolves’ second halves have appeared disorganized and undisciplined. Regardless of the cause of their offensive lulls in second halves, Tom Thibodeau’s defense has been dragging throughout games.
To put their defensive disappointment in perspective, during Thibodeau’s previous two years coaching, he had first and third ranked defenses. Their spot at 24 defensively, however, is likely to change as the season progresses.
Obviously, several variables will determine the outlook of the remaining 72 games. If Andrew Wiggins can maintain his hot streak and if the Wolves can carry their first half performances into the second, this team will be much better on offense than expected. The Wolves will be be playoff-bound if they can do that and play Tom Thibodeau’s brand of defense.