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Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA?

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TheZachAttack
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Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#1 » by TheZachAttack » Mon Jun 8, 2020 1:34 pm

I want to bring some positivity to the discussion about the Timberwolves, so I want to pose the question. Are a healthy Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? If not, how far off are they? If they play this upcoming draft right, could they solidify this title? If so, how? And if they do, what does that mean? How far can shooting take you in the modern NBA?

The Big 3

Karl Towns - (2020 stats - 3.3 3’s on 7.9 attempts - 41%)

Malik Beasley - (Wolves stats - 3.5 3’s on 8.2 attempts - 42%)

DeAngelo Russell - (2020 stats - 3.5 3’s on 9.7 attempts)

The Wolves offense going forward looks to be centered around these 3 players, all of whom are either above average or elite 3 point shooters. The trio, based on these stats, combine for 10.3 3’s on 25.8 attempts (basically 40% shooting).

To put this volume in perspective, the NBA league leaders as a team average 15 3’s per game. The 10th ranked NBA team only makes 12.6 3’s per game and the 6th ranked NBA team only makes 13.4 per game.

Basically, the Wolves top 3 players make roughly 75-80% of the 3’s that the number 5 & 10 teams make alone. I am not sure there is another team with a trio of this shooting caliber when healthy (maybe Brooklyn with Harris, Durant, and Kyrie?). But the point is, it seems relatively sane to assume that the Wolves top 3 will chip in around 10 3’s per game on around 40% shooting efficiency—giving the Wolves an elite base to work off of that can, at best, only be matched by a handful of other teams.

Basically this trio will play around 100-110 minutes per game on average (40-46% of the Wolves rotation minutes) and make around 10 3’s on a 40% clip.

How did this look in action? We rarely got to see the Wolves top 3 players play together aside from 1 or 2 games, but even without Towns, with the newfound spacing from the additions of D Lo and Beasley the Wolves were 3rd in both makes and attempts and 9th in FG%, largely without Towns.

The Wolves secondary players:

The non-shooters

I am not sure if the Wolves have the secondary shooters that some of the other elite shooting teams have, but it might not matter when you have 3 players like Towns/Beasley/Russell carrying that type of volume. The Wolves rotation does currently have a number of non-shooters, though some may have potential to varying degrees to become shooters:

Okogie - (25 mpg - 27% 3 pt FG)
Culver - (24 mpg - 30% 3 pt FG)

Unfortunately, the biggest thing hurting the Timberwolves rotation in this category right now is their wing shooting. The Wolves seem to really struggle in finding 3 & D role players. Okogie and Culver are currently in the Wolves rotation for their ability on the defensive side of the ball. I think ideally the Wolves find a way to replace one of these players minutes with a player that can shoot. Whether that’s improvement from one of these two players, internal development from players like Kelan Martin or Jaylen Nowell, or through this years draft.

The Projectables

Reid - (14 mpg - 33% 3 pt FG%)
Layman (22 mpg - 33% 3 pt FG%)

I group Naz Reid and Jake Layman together because I believe that both of these players are average NBA 3 pt shooters and I believe Naz is above average for his position. I think both players can shoot 35% from 3 for a season. Even if they don’t, I think in the majority of games both players are net positives from deep and streakiness and a little bit of lack of consistency keeps their percentages from being in the range that they seem to play at in the majority of games.

Jake Layman

I think the Wolves are very high on Layman and rightfully so. Though he may be streaky as a shooter, he can definitely get hot at any moment. In addition, his mobility, athleticism, & length allow him to have the ability as a cutter/back-door lob/transition player on offense and also be a really switchable 3/4 on defense.

I think the Wolves found a cheap hidden gem and I would like to see Layman, if he can stay healthy, play 25-30 mpg rather than 20-25 mpg next season.

Naz Reid

I believe that the Wolves think Naz Reid has a lot of potential, unfortunately for the Wolves most of that potential appears to be on offense. I think for a certain team Reid could become an awesome 20 mpg backup center who can be a really impactful player on a second unit. I think his skill set in terms of his passing ability and shooting touch at the center position can be really valuable playing through him and a good 6th man guard in the PnR, PnP, and the high-screen handoff/cut type game.

Unfortunately for the Wolves, I think it’s really important that they can find an elite defensive center to backup Towns due to his deficiencies on that end. I don’t believe that Naz has the body type, length, or athleticism to ever become that guy. Though, I hope that he can become a trade piece for the Wolves until they find that guy.

While Reid is on the roster, I believe he can be a 35%+ 3 PT shooter evidenced by his shooting 39% from 3 on 5 attempts per game in the G league.

Summing it up

Okogie, Culver, Layman, & Reid will likely play 80-90 minutes per game combined for the Wolves this season depending on their development and the Wolves draft picks. That playing time amounts to roughly 33-38% of the Wolves available rotation minutes.

I think it is realistic to say that conservatively this group will average at least 4 or 5 3’s per game on about 12 or 13 attempts per game (in line with their 2019-20 season totals), but I would not be surprised to see incremental improvement (especially from Okogie and/or Culver) that lead to more attempts and a higher percentage. This group will likely combine to shoot around 32-34% from 3–-which isn’t great but it could be worse. Again, I think the Wolves could really benefit from one of Okogie or Culver’s wing minutes being a plus shooter. At this point, it’s looking like Culver may not have a long term rotation spot on this team.

Okogie is a better defensive player and while he may not have the upside as a secondary ball handler, is developing some abilities to make a positive impact offensively despite the lack of shooting with his transition play and surprising ability to finish at the rim, draw fouls, and hit his free throws. Okogie’s game is better fit to be an elite role player and play off of the Wolves ball dominant core offensive players.

The regressing secondary floor spacers:

The other key rotation players, aside from draft picks or more quickly than anticipating positive development from some of the Wolves G league players, appear to be Jordan McLaughlin, James Johnson, and Jauncho Hernangomez.

These 3 players combined to average around 75 minutes per game last season. I think next season, if the Wolves roster is healthy, this number will drop to more like 60-65 minutes per game.

I think it’s likely that the Wolves draft at least one additional wing. In addition, they will likely look to play Jake Layman a few more minutes per game if he is healthy and any continued development from Okogie or Culver will be prioritized and they will be given chances to get minutes. Lastly, with a healthy D Lo & Beasley (and to a lesser extent Okogie), McLaughlin’s minutes are relatively capped to 15-20 mpg despite his productively in those minutes.

These 3 players are the Wolves most consistent bench players offensively. In addition, they are the Wolves best shooters off the bench—or at least were last season. I think this group is also due for some regression in the shooting department—at least from Johnson & Jauncho.

Jordan McLaughlin

I think the Wolves believe, or at least I believe, that the Wolves found a steal in Jordan McLaughlin and I think he will be the Wolves backup point guard for the forseable future unless he regresses. McLaughlin proved to be a really high-IQ player, and that IQ stood out even at the NBA level. He consistently made smart plays, plays within flow, can direct a second unit with the ball in his hands, and also play off of a primary scorer and space the floor. His ability to shoot the ball from 3 and his sneaky elite athleticism and craftiness to be able to finish inside among NBA length proved that he is an above average NBA backup despite his lack of size and length.

McLaughlin was a 40% 3 pt shooter his 3 final years at USC, shot 36% in the G league for the Wolves, and 38% at the NBA level. While, I’m not sure McLaughlin is a 40% shooter I think he’s definitely a 35% 3 pt shooter and likely even better than that as he showed last season.

With all of the traits that McLaughlin displayed as previously mentioned, it’s not surprising that he tied Karl Towns for the Wolves team lead in offensive rating at 121 and 3rd behind Beasley and Towns in eFG% & TS% respectively at .570 & .587 though he’s doing it mostly versus opposing teams backups.

It’s worth noting that these numbers are all well above the league average in each category which is about 110, .526, and .560 respectively.

McLaughlin combines with Russell & Beasley to give the Wolves another really good shooting threat out of the back court. This also means that the Wolves will likely have above average shooters on the floor at both of their back court positions (and initiating offense) for about 80-85 out of the 96 available backcourt minutes.

This does make the Wolves inherently small in their back court. It also means that Okogie is playing the majority of his minutes at the “3” so to speak if both Beasley and Russell are getting 33-34 minutes per game and McLaughlin is getting around 20 minutes per game. There is only 8-10 minutes left in the back court. I think largely this is fine and the spacing is worth the size trade off, especially since Okogie is going to be on the opposing teams best wing player regardless of size anyways.

The Four Position - J edition

Jauncho Hernangomez & James Johnson (along with Jake Layman) are currently the Wolves answers are the 4 position. I don’t think Johnson will continue to shoot 37% from 3 nor do I think Jauncho will shoot over 40% from 3.

Jauncho is a career 36% 3 pt FG shooter, and while relatively streaky, I think it’s fair to plug him in to shoot at that level. He has shown a willingness and confidence to pull the trigger when open and generally can make them when open.

Jauncho has a career 113 offensive rating, and besides a poor season with the Nuggets to begin 2019 has generally stuck around 114-118. Jauncho isn’t really athletic nor does he have great body control, touch, or finishing ability at the rim. He works hard though and is a high IQ player that plays within the flow of the offense. This allows him to largely be in the right places at the right time to have a high percentage look—which he won’t always knock down, but will do so enough to put up the high offensive ratings evidenced.

I think Jauncho is a great find for the Wolves, provided that they play him in a 20-25 minute per game role as an offensive threat off the bench against other teams backups.

I am not a huge James Johnson fan and I don’t believe he’s in the Wolves long term plans, but I do appreciate his leadership skills, toughness, and ability to be a secondary creator from the 4 and create unique matchups.

I think Jauncho and Johnson can combine for 2-3 3 pointers per game on around 35% 3 point shooting in around 30-40 mpg.

Wolves Wildcards:

It seems that the Wolves rotation is relatively set with Culver/Johnson/Reid’s 55-65 minutes per game as open longer-term unless there is a lot of development from Culver or Reid.

The Wolves are relatively tied to:

1: Russell (33 mpg) - McLaughlin (15 mpg)
2: Beasley (33 mpg) - Okogie (10 mpg) - McLaughlin (5 mpg)
3: Okogie (16 mpg) - Layman (12 mpg)
4: Jauncho (24 mpg) - Layman (12 mpg)
5: Towns (33 mpg)

I think that I may be interjecting some personal analysis on Layman/McLaughlin, but to me based on their play they deserve bigger roles. The remaining minutes available will go to Culver/Reid & some to Johnson. I think the Wolves would like to prioritize the development of Culver and Reid—either to prove what they are going to be or develop them into trade chips if they aren’t part of the long term plans. I think this may make minutes hard to come by for Johnson if that means more minutes for Layman at the 4 to develop Culver.

Jaylen Nowell

The other wild card is the development of Jaylen Nowell & Kelan Martin. On a fully healthy Wolves team, it will be hard for both of these players to get minutes. Basically it seems that Nowe or Martin will have to significantly outplay Culver in such a way that the Wolves decide to essentially give up on Culver to make room for one of the two players.

I think there is reason to believe that it may happen. I think both players skill sets may end up fitting the Wolves playstyle and the open spots on the depth chart better than Culver.

Nowell was one of the best scorers in the G League averaging 21 points per game on 53% 2 PT FG, 44% 3 point FG (on 7 attempts per game), & 73% FT. Basically, Nowell was a 50/40 guy as the primary scorer for Iowa showing the ability to both spot up, shoot from the perimeter off the dribble, and get to the rim and finish. Nowell was by far the best 21 year old scorer in the G League. Although, it did not translate in brief spurts this season... Nowell may have the kind of talent as an offensive player to force his way onto the Wolves roster.

If Nowell can translate as a quasi-6th man off the bench for the Wolves who can initiate offense, shoot off the dribble, penetrate, and space the floor off-ball—this could be the x-factor off the bench that the Wolves are missing. It is important to note that there would likely be defensive concerns off the bench with McLaughlin/Nowell, but I think the offensive spacing and firepower may be worth it—especially against opposing teams bench players.

Hitting on Nowell would make the Culver draft pick, whatever potential Culver still has, a moot point. I think Nowell developing would be one of the easier paths in my mind to the Wolves truly becoming the best shooting team in the NBA.

In addition, the Wolves having McLaughlin, Nowell, Layman and also Okogie/Jauncho (to a lesser degree) locked up extremely cheaply would allow them to have high-impact role players while also maintaining the roster flexibility to go after impact free agents to fill the remaining rotation spots.

I believe that Nowell is the biggest storyline of the next 1-2 seasons for Wolves fans to watch. If Nowell develops, the Wolves will all of a sudden have absolutely unbelievable perimeter shooting between D Lo, Towns, Beasley, McLaughlin, and Nowell from their back court (and #1 offensive option) and immediately have a ton of roster flexibility from a cap perspective.

Kelan Martin

The other potential wild card is the development of Kelan Martin. Martin is only 6’5 or 6’6, but he weighs 230 pounds and has a wingspan that some sources say is as much as 7’3. I am not sure if that’s accurate, but pretty reliably we can say he has a 7’+ wingspan.

Basically the key with listing his measurables is that while his height may make him seem like a 2 or a 3, I think his measurables actually compare really well to say a player like PJ Tucker. Honestly, even Draymond Green. Though, I am not sure if Martin has shown the willingness or grittiness to want to bang inside like those two players.

However, the potential is there based on body type for the Wolves to develop their own version of these players—which would fit amazingly in the Wolves system.

Offensively, Martin has shown an ability to space the floor throughout his career though it hasn’t translated consistent at the NBA level yet.

In the G league, Martin averaged 19 points per game in just 28 minutes shooting 39% from 3 on over 6 attempts per game. In his final 3 years of college at Butler, Martin was about a 36% 3 point shooter also on volume.

Offensively, based on what he has shown during stints this season at the NBA level... he is a relatively one-dimensional offensive player and while he’s not Shabazz Muhammed he’s not all that far off. When Martin gets the ball he’s looking to score. Martin’s spacing potential where his upside comes from, but he flashed surprising touch and a little bit of a floater game showing that he has a couple of tools to make an impact offensively outside of his shooting. The floater game is positive because if Martin is run off the line or slashing and gets cuts off before the rim, he’s not in big trouble and without options. This is a skill that should make Wolves fans excited that there may be a little bit more than expected offensive upside.

If the Wolves can develop Martin into a quasi-PJ Tucker and Martin can play the 2/3/4 & even a small ball 5 off the bench if the Wolves see the right matchup, that would be another development that would both raise the Wolves ceiling as things look now and also create a lot of roster flexibility.

If the Wolves were able to develop BOTH Nowell & Martin into productive bench players who can space the floor at an average to above average level—the Wolves are set for a number of years.

If Rosas is able to develop all 3 of McLaughlin, Nowell, & Martin into above average NBA back-ups along with smart moves to pick up average to above average NBA backups in Layman/Jauncho AND Beasley (while also getting off Wiggins contract)—he may be in the conversation for best GM in the league though I doubt the Wolves would keep Jauncho in this scenario.

Wolves fans should keep a close eye on both Martin and Nowell, draft picks aside. As we have seen with McLaughlin, if both of these players can make a jump with another year in this system and make the kind of impact that McLaughlin did off the bench the sky is the limit for the Wolves.

2020 NBA Draft

There is a lot of negative talk about the lack of high-end draft talent in this years draft. That may be true, but I think the Wolves have an opportunity to set the framework for long term success in the system they want to play with this draft. While there may be a lack of high-end talent, I believe there will be multiple players at each of the Wolves draft slots that project to be above average floor spacing NBA wings that can fit up and down the Wolves 2-4 slots.

In my opinion, the Wolves should heavily prioritize targeting floor spacing wings in this draft. In the Wolves system, you can never have enough wings—especially wings who can shoot—and I believe the Wolves are willing to play smaller (i.e. Covington at the wing) even if there are many posters here, fans, and even Wolves bloggers who question that wisdom to the degree that Rosas seems to want to push it.

If the Wolves can truly be the best shooting team in the NBA, which they are close to being now, the extra 3 point makes will outweigh the negatives from rebounding issues. I don’t believe in the modern NBA there are many teams with 4’s who make a living inside the post. Even those that do and are very good at it, an NBA defense should be really excited if a team wants to play their offense through the post (mid range) while the Wolves make a ton of 3 pointers.

Opposing teams will have to out-second chance and generate turnovers more so than the Wolves to a wide degree to keep up. It’s a formula that , in the math, sets the Wolves up for success and tilts the game in the Wolves favor. If both teams play 50% games, based on the math and shot selection, the Wolves will win.

In addition, while I believe it is important for the Wolves to target an elite backup defensive center—I don’t believe the Wolves should target that type of role player in the first round. I believe athleticism & measurables can be targeted in the second round and coached and modeled into a 15 mpg defensive stopper.

Who are these players? Many of you know them, but I will just do a brief synopsis of them for you:

Wolves 1st pick:

Devin Vassell

I believe that both of these players will be on the board with the Wolves 1st pick. I also think that both of these players are better value than a lot of the names being thrown out to the Wolves. I think either of these players would be more impactful in the Wolves system and on the Wolves roster than the majority of the other players mocked in the first few picks other than maybe Edwards who you likely have to take (Ball, Wiseman, Halliburton, Toppin, Hayes, etc).

Vassell is 6’6 or 6’7 with a reported 6’10 wingspan and is more athletic than maybe initially pegged when he was labeled a 3 & D player. From the scouting reports, he also flashes a little bit more off the dribble than maybe initially pegged when was labeled a 3&D player.

Vassell looks like he will have above average athleticism at the NBA level and he likes to use that athleticism to sky in for out backs and alley oops and in transition. He’s also not afraid to slash to the rim and likes to go up strong. Though, he only averaged 2 free throws per game so that’s evidence that either he doesn’t go into contact all that often and at this point is more of a perimeter player

His real calling card is his shooting. Vassell has been a 40%+ 3 PT shooter in both of his collegiate seasons and projects to a similar caliber shooter at the NBA level.

He’s looks like he can both spot up or come around a screen and shoot off the dribble though he doesn’t look like he’s got an advanced dribble at this time. He also doesn’t look to be as natural and have the same feel moving without the ball into soft spots as Aaron Nesmith who we will talk about next. He does appear to have solid touch and body control around the rim.

Vassell is not an elite defensive player at this time, but has the length and size to be an impactful defender and can play at either the 2 or the 3.

The point with this draft pick, even in the top 5, is that in a draft without high-end talent or at least what looks to be high-end talent it doesn’t really make much sense to draft a player (say Ball) who isn’t a great fit with the current roster, isn’t a great fit with the current scheme (the Wolves do not need more non-shooters, especially non-shooting initiators) has clear question marks and a floor that seems potentially low, along with question marks about the ceiling or the ability to get to where the ceiling might be.

Vassell projects to be, at worst, something similar to a 6’7/6’10 wingspan JJ Reddick or Buddy Hield type player. I think people peg a player as 3&D and think that they have no upside. Vassell has upside as well depending on how his dribble game continues to develop. There is uncertainty there, but there is arguably more uncertainty with other players in the top 5 about reaching their ceiling and more question marks about what their floor and role is at the NBA level if they don’t answer their question marks.

Vassell could develop into a Bogdnavic type player if he develops his game with the ball in his hands a little bit, he fits in an ideal way with the current roster and scheme at both his ceiling or floor, and is likely in the majority of scenarios that career play out the more impactful player than say a Hayes or a Ball. It’s worth mentioning that Vassell is just 19 as well.

Aaron Nesmith

Nesmith is also 6’6ish with a 6’10ish wingspan. He’s not as athletic as Vassell and doesn’t play above the rim like Vassell does. This may, to some, limit Nesmith’s theoretical ceiling in terms of his role offensively and also defensively, though I’m not sure it matters at least offensively.

Nesmith is always hunting for his own shot and is confident every time he shoots—he believes it’s going in every time. This is evidenced by putting up 23 points per game. He’s laser-focused and contact doesn’t seem to bother him. He’s really smooth and seems to be able to make shots even if he’s moving or fading or there’s bodies flying at him... it doesn’t matter. He’s got one of the more advanced feels I’ve seen from a college player in terms of being able to locate and relocate in soft spots without the ball, receive a pass, and quickly shoot and no matter how he’s moving he’s squared to the basket and his rhythm is right.

I am not sure how well he can shoot off the dribble or initiate, but he is comfortable also stepping back, side-stepping, pump-faking and letting the closing defender fly by and shooting.

While I’m not sure how creative he is in say an iso situation, he can attack moving defenses or using screens or traffic, and get to the rim at the college level. He also has good touch at the rim, for example he will finish with English high off the glass in traffic. He’s not afraid to draw contact evidenced by 5+ free throws attempts per game despite being a perimeter shooter and he’s an elite free throw shooter when he gets there (83.5%).

He’s probably a better shooter than Vassell right away with his ability to move without the ball and a type of feel for doing so that really can’t be competely taught. Small sample size (14 games) but he averaged 52% from 3 on 8 attempts per game this season. He’s also better at drawing contact than Vassell it appears.

Vassell is more athletic and plays above the rim more. He will likely be more impactful than Nesmith in transition, on the offensive glass, and his defensive upside is higher. In addition, Nesmith is 20 years old.

Nesmith is probably closer to the JJ Reddick comparison, but bigger. He plays like a Klay Thompson, JJ Reddick, or Ray Allen in the way he shows a feel for moving without the ball, getting open, and firing. He likely will be limited on the defensive side of things to some degree but has the frame and wingspan to not be a minus.

Again, Nesmith fits the Wolves scheme perfectly and in the modern NBA especially on a team like the Wolves with ball-dominant players... an ideal 3rd star for the Wolves to maximize their best players is not a ball dominant, shooting question mark guard... it’s much more likely a Klay Thompson, Buddy Hield, Bogdanavic, etc type of player if they can draft one.

I think offensively Nesmith has as much of potential as any player in this draft and while if I was a different team I may be looking for a ball dominant guard, the Wolves shouldn’t be.

Summing it up

The Wolves WILL have the opportunity, no matter where the end up drafting, to select either Vassell or Nesmith and it’s the right decision for the Wolves to maximize their talent. In the modern NBA I’m not convinced it’s not BPA either.

If the Wolves take one of these two players they would immediately be the best shooting team in the NBA with Towns, Beasley, D Lo, Vassell or Nesmith, and McLaughlin along with the Wolves supporting cast.

I would argue at that point that if you take either Vassell or Nesmith, Culver is expendable because I believe that Okogie is ahead of Culver in the Wolves future plans unless Culver makes a jump that isn’t predictable by his year 1 play.

In this draft, it has been speculated, that many teams may look to trade back as the value of the players in the late lottery isn’t hugely different to many teams than later in the 1st round. I think the Wolves could potentially capitalize and use Culver/#16 and also Nowell or Okogie if needed to trade up into the #8-10 range to get both Nesmith and Vassell—it really seems do-able.

If the Wolves were able to add both players, they could potentially be one of the better shooting teams ever realistically assuming that Culver and #16 is enough to get up to that range.

A lineup of would feature above average to elite shooting at all spots in the rotation.

Towns _____
_____ / Juancho / Layman
Vassell / Layman / Okogie
Beasley/Nesmith /Okogie
D Lo / McLaughlin

In addition, I would argue that getting to a position like this would is where the Wolves should try and get to first. Once the Wolves have this type of roster framework, they can begin to go after a 4 and a backup 5 who are elite defensively.

Realistically, the Wolves will not be able to get both players though I think it makes sense to package assets to get to that tier as described. If they cannot find a deal that works, I would go after one of these two players (let me know if I’m missing a wing at this spot)

Sadiq Bey

Ideally, if the Wolves can’t land both Nesmith and Vassell (and honestly this scenario may work out better) the number one player they should target with their 2nd FRP is Sadiq Bey.

Bey may not have quite the upside offensively in terms of a slightly more primary scoring load or a 6th man role S as Nesmith or Vassell—but in some ways he is a better fit for the Wolves.

He’s bigger than both of the previous players, 6’8 with a 7 foot wingspan and room to put weight on his frame compared to the 6’6/6’10 wingspan of the previous two players. The attractiveness here is that in the Wolves system Bey could play the 3 or the 4 on defense—which is actually important roster construction wise.

Bey is not all that explosive athletically, nor is he great shooting off the dribble, running around screens and shooting, or getting to and finishing at the rim. However, he is a great spacer and is in the 98th percentile as a spot up shooter shooting 42% for his career and 45% this season on 6 attempts per game.

Bey could be a good fit for the Wolves along with Layman and potentially Jauncho at the 4.

Josh Green

Green is a tier below Bey in my mind and the Wolves should use the assets it takes to get 2 of the above 3 players. However, Green would also fit the mold of a wing player that could help the Wolves.

He is not nearly the shooter that the other 3 are, but he’s likely the more active and tenacious defender which is something that players really either have or do not. He’s also flashed ability as a shooter at 36%. At 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan, Green is not going to be able to play the 4. However, he fills a need for the Wolves in terms of perimeter defenders and he might be the best of the group listed.

____________________________

Conclusion

The Wolves have a chance in this draft to really cement there roster in line with the way that they want to play and put themselves in a position to have a lot of roster and cap flexibility. In addition, they are in a position to create a roster that is absolutely elite in terms of perimeter shooting in a realistic way. They have the chance to do so while creating a rotation that is extremely cost-effective and controllable.

They could likely control Layman (26), Okogie (21), 2 of Nesmith/Bey/Vassell (19-21), McLaughlin (24), Nowell (20), Martin (20), Reid (20) no more than $25 million.

This is important when you are paying Towns & D Lo (24) close to $30 million a year and Beasley (23) probably in the $15 million range. In addition, if the Wolves wanted to they could sign Jauncho (24).

This would put the entire team on the same timeline and give the Wolves the ability to sign multiple veterans and fill in issues on the defensive side of things.

The Wolves are likely a top 5 shooting team and offense with a healthy Towns before the draft, but they do not have the secondary shooting and scoring to be consistent enough to carry a team to wins. Adding 2 of Nesmith/Vassell/Bey, especially if the Wolves are able to add the first two will give the Wolves options to maximize their spacing in all lineups on the floor, allow their star players to have better individual matchups and less traffic, and also allow the Wolves schematically to maximize the amount of time the ball is in D Lo, Towns, Beasley’s hands without taking away from the effectiveness offensively of the other players on the floor or vice versa.

I hope Rosas targets shooting early and often and understands that you can pickup Noel’s cheaply or Mitchell Robinson’s or Andre Robersons in the second round or undrafted.

Rosas could also then use Reid, Culver (if he’s not gone), Jauncho (if they sign him), and other assets to make additional moves.

Summary

-Draft Vassell with 1st FRP
-Trade Culver/#16/additional assets and draft Nesmith #10ish
-Target athletic and defensive 4’s & 5’s in the 2nd round and free agency
-Sign Beasley, Jauncho, McLaughlin, Martin
-Let Crabbe/Turner walk

Additions - Vassell, Nesmith, 2nd round pick
Subtractions - Culver, Crabbe, Turner
Retain - Beasley, McLaughlin, Martin, and Jauncho

2020-21 Roster

C - Towns / Reid
PF - Jauncho
SF - Vassell
SG - Beasley
PG - D Lo

6th man - Nesmith
Backup wings - Okogie/Layman
Backup PG - McLaughlin
Backups C- Naz

Bench

J Johnson
Nowell
Martin
2nd round pick defensive big
Vanderbilt

2021

-Let Jones, Spellman, & Evans walk saving about $24m
-Draft or trade for elite defensive 5 role player with combination of FRP/Naz Reid/Jauncho/Layman/Okogie/ and other secondary assets)
-Use assets and cap space to target high impact players if the right player or situation is available

___________________________________

How far can elite shooting take you?

The question will become how far can elite shooting take the Wolves? How good can the Wolves defense be if there is no way for the Wolves to get around the fact that there point of attack defense and rim protection will be likely below average at best.

I do think it’s important to note that I think there is a defensive phenomena in the NBA that not enough fans talk about when we talk about the stats—especially defensive stats on bad teams. I think that to some degree, and probably reasonably so, players on NBA teams that are bad and out of the race don’t put forth maximum defensive effort on random game #56 of the season if there isn’t as much to play for.

I don’t think it’s a surprise that Towns traditionally starts the season playing at a high level on the defensive end and things start to fade as the Wolves fall out of the race. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when the Jimmy Butler trade happens and the Wolves get Covington and go on a mini winning streak over the next few weeks while playing top 5 defense over that span of games... Covington gets hurt and the Wolves start to fall out of the race... and the consistent defensive intensity fades. It even makes sense.

So while I do acknowledge that Towns is likely average to below average defensively and I do acknowledge that because he plays such a big role offensively, that likely takes from his defensive effort, but I do think defense and team defense as a whole does have some noisiness where things can look different than they really are for bad teams. That said, part of the reason bad teams are bad is likely bad defense as well so it’s a little bit chicken or egg.

So with that being said, I think the question is how good can team defense be with average to below average rim protection and sub-par point of attack defense unless you get creative with hiding D Lo?

The Timberwolves in 2017-18 were able to make the playoffs with a defense ranked in the low 20s and a top 3 offense. The blueprint they are following these time around seems to suggest that your defense needs to be in the 15-20 range. The Rockets and the Mavs (the two teams who shoot more 3’s than the Wolves) are ranked 16th & 17th defensively? So, how can the Wolves get there in a way that they can control?

I think there are 5 main steps 1) On offense, limit turnovers 2) On offense, limit opposing fast break points 3) On defense generate turnovers 4) On defense, limit second chance points 5) Defend the 3 point line


1 & 2 is the idea that there are things that you do on offense that impact your defense. If a team is turning the ball over often and not putting themselves in positions to be able to defend the opposing teams fast break well... a team is going to cripple itself from the start no matter how well they play in the half court.

Luckily for the Wolvea, schematically it would appear they are set up to put themselves in positions to limit turnovers and get back defensively. A 5-out offense, in theory, is not overly complex and thus will result in fewer miscommunications and errors. If an offense revolves around players spacing the floor for the best player and simple ball screens and hand offs to get open... this should limit turnovers.

In reality, the Wolves are the 8th worst team in terms of turnovers. This is one key area that the Wolves can improve on, in their control, that will have a big impact on their defensive numbers... even with flawed defensive players.

In addition, in theory schematically the Wolves should be set up to limit opposing teams transition numbers. A 5-out offense puts you in a non-advantageous position to generate offensive rebounds, but theoretically more of your players are above the arc than other traditional offenses.

The Wolves are better here ranking tied for 13th and within 0.5 points of 5th overall. However, the if the Wolves can tighten this area even more it will go along way as well.

Moving to the defensive side of the ball, another way to improve the Wolves defense without doing anything to improve the players defensively is to generate turnovers. The Wolves are actually great at generating turnovers today and rank 1st in the league with 14.4 steals + blocks which isn’t 100% indicative of turnovers generated, but it’s close. The Wolves are tied for 6th in turnovers generated. Adding additional long wings should help, but the Wolves can choose to play aggressively and force teams into more mistakes even without individual 1 on 1 talent.

Effectively, if teams each start off with 100 shots... generating turnovers is essentially worth 2 possessions because you take one from the opposing team while adding one of your own. If the Wolves can continue to generate turnovers they will increase their margin for error even if their half court defense is bad when opposing teams get shots up.

In additional, going back to that example of 100 shots... limiting second chances is extremely important... especially so for teams that struggle with half court defensive execution. Not capitalizing on a stop and decreasing your margin for error by giving a team additional possessions is a killer.

The Wolves rank surprisingly well for their scheme in defensive rebound % at 14, but interestingly and confusingly they are tied for 10th worst in opponent second chance points. An additional point of emphasis for the Wolves can be to clean up this area despite a lack of overall defensive talent.

Lastly, the Wolves can focus on contesting really well at the 3 point line and forcing teams to make tough shots from the perimeter or step inside the line and shoot a mid range shot. I believe that in the modern NBA, if you can cause teams to miss even 2 or 3 additional 3’s than they otherwise would thats a huge momentum swing. Though, interestingly enough some of the best teams aren’t necessarily great in this category.

The Wolves are tied for the 10th worst on opponent 3 point percentage. This is another point of emphasis that the Wolves can improve on even with poor interior defense. Adding a couple of rangy wings alongside Okogie/Layman & even Beasley should help improve this category. If the Wolves can utilize their wing heavy/mobile lineup to contest 3’s at an above average level they can improve despite poor individual defenders at key positions.

Summarize

The Wolves current rank around 22-25th defensively. In their model, to be effective it appears they have to improve that to around league average.

The Wolves defense will likely become more consistent on its own through staying in the hunt for longer. In addition, the Wolves can greatly improve their defense by focusing on things on offense like limiting turnovers and making it an emphasis to have numbers back in transition.

On the defensive side of things, the Wolves need to continue to generate opposing turnovers at an elite level and get better at limiting 2nd chance points and work together more cohesively to contest on the perimeter.

These things, which at least to some degree are controllable even without elite defensive players should allow the Wolves to become an average or better defensive team.

In order to do this, it will be important for the Wolves to draft as many long/rangy wings as possible making this draft a big opportunity to do just that.

Offense

In order to succeed with the roster construction that the Wolves are pursuing it will be important to have an elite tier 1 offense. The Mavs and Rockets tank 1st and 2nd in offensive rating. While the Wolves may not have the high-end perimeter initiator of offense like Houston or Dallas... there is reason to believe that the Wolves offense, if they hit on the right shooters in this draft, could be even more efficient than either of those offenses.

Wolves - Most efficient #1 option

The main reason? Karl Anthony Towns. Minnesota’s offense will run through Towns, and while it is a little bit easier to deny Towns offense for stretches as a big, he’s a much better volume 3 point shooter than either Harden, Luca, or Westbrook.

Towns is the 3rd most efficient 20%+ usage scorer at 64% in the league behind John Collins & Christian Wood with 5% more usage and in Woods case in 34 minutes versus starters versus 22 minutes versus backups.

In addition to the elite efficiency, Towns separates himself from Collins by creating for teammates at a triple the rate with an assist % of 21 versus 7.5. Also, Towns maintains that efficiency on 8 3’s per game versus 3.5. Harden and Doncic are at 61% and 58% respectively.

The Wolves offensively for the majority of the 19-20 season managed to construct a roster that was completely antithesis to its scheme. Around Towns, they hoisted the 3rd most amount of 3’s at the 3rd worst FG% with players like Culver, Okogie, Graham, and others.

The Wolves offense with the additions of Beasley, D Lo, Jauncho, the return of Layman, and the increased role for McLaughlin finally have a supporting cast that can execute the most pivotal part of this offense at a high level comparable with other elite offenses.

Wolves - Most Efficient Core 3 Shooters

Wolves - D lo, Beasley, and Towns combine for about 10.3 3’s on 25 attempts per game hitting at about an 40% clip.

Rockets - Harden, Gordon, & Covington shoot a ton of 3’s, but not particularly efficiently. They make 10 3’s on 29 attempts per game for about a 34.5% clip.

Maybe — Doncic, Hardaway, and Porzingis shoot about 23 3’s per game and make 8.3 per game for about a 35.5% clip.

It is possible that Beasley will regress to 37-39% rather than 40-42% from 3 PT FG%, but in either case the Wolves core 3 players shouldering the most offensive load are head and shoulders the most efficient shooting group. In an offensive scheme that revolves around spacing the floor and shooting a bunch of 3’s and putting the ball in your best players hands and asking them to create shots and make decisions... the Wolves, when healthy, project to have the most efficient #1 option and the most efficient primary shooters.

The biggest difference between the Wolves and the Rockets/Mav’s is the sheer number of secondary scorers that space the floor at an elite rate. The Wolves core 3 is asked to shoulder more of a scoring load.

Of the 7 rockets supporting players who shoot the next Most amounts of 3’s, they combine to make 10.7 3’s on 28.9 attempts per game (shooting just above 37%) and only one meaningful player in their rotation who is not a big who shoots sub 30% Russell Westbrook (25.4%).

The Mavericks have 8 players who combine to make 10.3’s on 25.5 attempts per game shooting 40% and one non-big in their rotation (Justin Jackson) who shoots sub 30%.

The biggest takeaway is that both of these offenses have tons of spacing no matter the lineup they throw out and the supporting players actually boost the play of the core 3.

As I mentioned, the Wolves have gotten better in this department. The Wolves supporting cast of 8 players combine to make 8.9 3’s on 26.1 attempts per game for a 34% average.

However the Wolves rotation still consists in Okogie, Culver, and Martin who are all sub 30% and Layman/Reid who are all 33%. While there is some belief that some of these players will improve, it’s an absolute travesty the lack of shooting talent that the Wolves have in their rotation.

The Wolves current have 3 reserves (Johnson, Jauncho, and McLaughlin) who combine for 4.3 makes 10.7 attempts shooting (40%). It’s likely that this number will come down. The Mavs & Rockets prove that really, you only want 1 non-shooting non-big in your rotation at most.

It’s clear that the Wolves #1 priority should be to prioritize shooting above all else and even if the prospect has limitations elsewhere.

If the Wolves are able to add Vassell and Nesmith who are about to shoot 38%+ on 10+ attempts per game from 3... then all of a sudden the Wolves have 4 above average or better rotation shooters outside their big 3, 2 additional players who are around average, and the Wolves supporting cast shooting numbers will hold their own with the Rockets/Mavs.

This would mean that the Wolves are by a decent degree of magnitude the most efficient offense of the 3 and likely would be the most efficient offense in the league if then wings drafted translate.

_________

I think Wolves fans need to realize how big of an opportunity this draft is. If the Wolves play this draft right, the Wolves will be in a prime position to open up a competing window for awhile and will be extremely fun to watch.

I hope this post explains the rational behind the reason why this draft is so crucial.

Drafting more non-shooters into an offensive scheme that only works if there is the threat of spacing and the ability to hit down 3’s would be a disaster. The Wolves are trying to run a model that has proven to work if you have 8-12 shooters—which the Mavs & Warriors do. The Wolves are trying to run the same system with essentially 5 shooters and a couple of decent shooters. Adding additional non-shooters would be crippling. Any draft pick that has question marks as a shooter should be a non-starter.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#2 » by Neeva » Mon Jun 8, 2020 2:42 pm

Vassell in the top 5 would be a stretch. he will be available in early teens. Not sure he is starter material either. If wolves want him they should just trade down and get more assets.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#3 » by KGdaBom » Mon Jun 8, 2020 3:22 pm

Yeah I can't see Vassell or Nesmith with our first pick and not even confident either of them would be our best choice with our second pick. You can't take Beasley's great 3% while with the Wolves seriously. Very small sample size. So the answer to your question is no.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#4 » by minimus » Mon Jun 8, 2020 6:27 pm

Wow! First of all, really appreciate your work, mate! That's a lot of stats, numbers!
With regard to your question:

1) I think we are not the best shooting team in the NBA. Simply because we are not elite at converting shots at the rim. And we dont generate and convert enough FTs. We might be in consideration as one of the best 3pt shooting team though. However, lets not simplify our identity only to shooting.

2) I am sure Rosas does not want to win the best 3pt shooting team competition, he also is not copying HOU model. Instead, he tries to build similar processes in order to achieve success as NBA organization. This team needs balance badly. A balance between defense and offense, between made 3pt shots and converted easy shots at the rim. Between experience and raw potential. Between size and mobility. Currently, we are bad at shooting at the rim, we do create many quality opportunities in the paint, but we don't have explosive athletes, the last one we traded was Wiggins, we don't have rim runners. Our lead ballhandler is DLo, who is a shooter, but he is not a slasher and he does not generate FTs at a high rate. However, we have a massive advantage of having two elite passers in KAT and DLo who happen to be our main decision-makers and scorers. We MUST sign/draft/trade/develop quality cutter/finisher/slasher and shot creators. I have a lot of faith in Layman and Martin, because they both fit really well in 1-3-1 scheme.

3) I agree that Vassell looks like an ideal fit here at SF. I also like Avdija versatility. However, given current situation with a lot more time for draft preparation both for NBA organizations and players I see why the draft stock may change a lot. I do believe that we trade our FRP, if after 7 months of draft preparation no one from draft prospects impresses Rosas and Co. I think that problem of playing Culver or Okogie is that they both are bad shooters AND bad finishers at the rim. This combination of weaknesses really hurts our offense. Look at Westbrook, he is a bad shooter, and he is an average finisher at the rim, he does not even have advanced dribbling nor moves, but he is an elite athlete, so HOU has opened the court for him and he is having an excellent season. He is a factor. Why I see Aaron Gordon as an excellent fit both financially and skills-wise. He is an elite athlete who NEVER played in modern offense with solid shooters and playmakers around. If we open court for him we will do wonders for us. There are few players who can stop him in space because he is too strong, too athletic, too quick, too mobile. How many dunks had a rookie Culver this season? Imagine how many dunks will have Gordon here. We might not be the best shooting team in the NBA, but we really might have a chance to become the best pace-and-space team.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#5 » by TheZachAttack » Tue Jun 9, 2020 1:26 am

Neeva wrote:Vassell in the top 5 would be a stretch. he will be available in early teens. Not sure he is starter material either. If wolves want him they should just trade down and get more assets.


I think there’s virtually no chance that Vassell will be available in the late teens come draft day.

Vassell has good NBA size & length to be able to guard either wing position and switch on the perimeter. In addition, along with the NBA length that teams look for today he’s an above average athlete, even at the NBA level. He can play above the rim both in transition, second chance points, & cutting.

Vassell has all of the measurables and athleticism to be an above average defensive player at the NBA level.

He also has 1 elite skill in a draft without many players who truly excel in a way that is obviously translatable at the next level. Vassell has shot 40%+ in two separate seasons at the college level, showing a level of repeatability that as in indicator of a high chance that the shooting will convert at the next level.

In addition, Vassell is just 19 years old. It’s likely that there’s some level of projection left in his offensive game. Sure, there are question marks that may limit his overall upside, but it seems like at worst you will get a perfect perimeter wing in the modern NBA who will play a lot of high impact minutes. However, if he develops his pull-up game and his handles a little bit further? He could be even more.

I don’t there’s any higher of a likelihood that Vassell improves his dribbling to open up a scenario where Vassell becomes more of a primary scorer than a player with shooting question marks becoming an above average shooter. In the modern, NBA especially as a perimeter player the quickest way out of the league is not developing into a passable shooter.

The Wolves aren’t a team that needs to look to take a gamble on a non-shooting perimeter player who needs the ball in his hands to be effective.

In addition, being able to score without the ball is just as much of a skill as being able to score with the ball. In the modern NBA, it may even be more important especially if a team already has primary scorers on their roster.

The ability to maximize ones offensive game in terms of efficiency and output while still allowing your primary scorers to maximize theirs is off the charts valuable.

Vassell will likely be available in the 5-10 range and the Wolves may be able to trade back and pick up additional assets which is definitely something that if the Wolves feel they can pull off they should explore.

It just seems like in most scenarios the path to the best possible Wolves team is to actually target players who can help the Wolves move towards the goal of maximizing their spacing in an offensive scheme that one of its core principles is doing just that while also helping the Wolves continue to improve their perimeter defense.

It seems like at worst Vassell is a key rotation piece to helping the Wolves create one of the more efficient offenses in the league and anything past that is grazy though more projection is pretty reasonable for a player that young.

I guess I can see scenarios where the Wolves draft Ball and have Towns & D Lo play off of him with their shooting ability. I’m just really skeptical that drafting a player who needs the ball in his hands and has shooting question marks and trusting Ball’s decision-making leads to a better offense than an offense where the ball is in Towns & D Lo’s hands and there is spacing around them. It just doesn’t appear to be a calculation that actually makes sense if you break it down other than just being a fan of Ball and wanting to watch him on your favorite team.

I think Nesmith will also be off the board by #10. It feels like his floor is a 6th man that can carry the scoring load off the bench. Honestly, in a lot of ways Beasley is really good comparison in terms of playstyle & attitude on the court. I think Nesmith will be able to be your #3 or #4 best scorer. He’s a pretty seamless fit on the Wolves as well and exactly the type of player they are missing off the bench.

Adding one additional player that always wants the ball, knows how to get open, & thinks every shot is going in would do wonders for the Wolves. I think Beasley introduced Wolves fans to a type of playstyle that we haven’t seen a lot as Wolves fans. You don’t have to be a huge iso break your man down type of player in order to shoulder the scoring load for stretches.

If a player can generate open & efficient looks consistently when they want to, it shouldn’t be important as long as it works.

I just don’t see how there is any way either player falls outside of the top 10, if one of these guys fell to #16 it may prove to be the best draft pick in team history outside of KG/Towns for the spot.

The only players I see going ahead of Vassell & Nesmith are:

- Edwards
- Ball
- Wiseman
- Hayes*
- Halliburton*
-Toppin*
-Okoro*
-Okongwu*

I think both players will likely pass Okoro, Toppin, & Halliburton on public mocks by draft day to the questions about all 3 players. We will see.

*Likely ahead on most boards
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#6 » by TheZachAttack » Tue Jun 9, 2020 1:42 am

KGdaBom wrote:Yeah I can't see Vassell or Nesmith with our first pick and not even confident either of them would be our best choice with our second pick. You can't take Beasley's great 3% while with the Wolves seriously. Very small sample size. So the answer to your question is no.


I noted in my post that Beasley’s 3 PT% is likely not sustainable. Though, I think it’s pretty clear that Beasley is an above average NBA shooting from the perimeter. I think it’s also clear he’s a rhythm & confidence player.

If I was a betting man, would I bet on Beasley shooting 42% again? No. If you asked me to bet against Beasley shooting 38%... I’m not sure I’d take that bet.

I think the bigger takeaway than exact numbers is that Beasley is clearly a shooter and the type of player that the Wolves have not nearly had enough of—especially in this system.

If the Wolves draft 2 wings in this draft that project to be above average shooters at the NBA level in this draft which they will have the chance to do so if they would like... I think the idea that the Wolves aren’t legitimately in the conversation for that statement is an idea that’s not based on the data & the reality of the Timberwolves shooting ability versus other NBA teams—even the elite ones.

After the deadline moves this season, the Wolves shot the 8th highest percentage from 3 and made the 3rd most 3’s per game. 4 of the teams that are ahead of the Wolves by fractions of a percentage during that time period did so on 8-12 less 3’s per game.

Of the high-volume 3 point shooting teams (13 teams that shot 35 or more 3’s per game over that same time period), the Wolves shot the second highest percentage at 37.5% behind the Heat at 40%.

The Wolves did this all without Towns, who is their best 3 pt shooter. Now maybe the numbers even out because of Beasley & Jauncho’s 40% clip along with James Johnson shooting 37%.

If you want to be conservative it seems like the addition of Towns to the lineup washes out any negative regression and we could split hairs further if you disagree, but after the Wolves revamped their roster they were firmly together in the argument for best shooting perimeter team during that time, though I think there are other teams I would take ahead of the Wolves.

If the Wolves were to add two additional above average 3 pt shooters in the draft and replace Culver’s or Culver & Okogies minutes (Both sub 30%) with those minutes... well percentage wise & volume wise the Wolves numbers would be the best.

I am not sure why you are dismissive. There is a pretty clear path to the Wolves at the very least having to be mentioned in any discussion with other elite shooting teams if they choose to pursue this upcoming draft in a certain way.

I think that’s a positive thing. If I was Rosas it’s something that I would seriously consider.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#7 » by Calinks » Tue Jun 9, 2020 1:46 am

Good God! Zach Attack that's a damn novel! I don't think I have ever seen a post that long on a message board. 8000 words. Post of the year solely based on content alone lol. If I had a Timberwolves podcast I could probably do an hour episode on that alone XD
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#8 » by TheZachAttack » Tue Jun 9, 2020 3:00 am

Calinks wrote:Good God! Zach Attack that's a damn novel! I don't think I have ever seen a post that long on a message board. 8000 words. Post of the year solely based on content alone lol. If I had a Timberwolves podcast I could probably do an hour episode on that alone XD


Thank you :) I do research topics like these largely to learn the way that I should think about the Wolves or an additional topic. The narrative you see written out is me writing as I try to learn what I should think based on the data that I am observing. It started out with wanting to know how the Wolves compared to other teams from a floor-spacing perspective and turned into a lot more. I do these for me because writing down my thoughts helps me process information, but I like to write them inside RealGM because hey why let it go to waste if someone else wants to read it.

I am not sure if folks on this board actually learn anything from what I post, if I just confirm things about basketball that they already know, or posters pick a random paragraph & respond to one-portion of a much longer narrative (or some combination of all 3), but I hope that some of you do!

Cheers!
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#9 » by Neeva » Tue Jun 9, 2020 3:19 am

I think Vassell will go between 9-14 Wolves can definitely trade down and get him and more assets. Drafting him in top 5 would not be smart.

Or wolves can trade up from Brooklyn pick.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#10 » by TheZachAttack » Tue Jun 9, 2020 6:46 am

minimus wrote:Wow! First of all, really appreciate your work, mate! That's a lot of stats, numbers!
With regard to your question:

Well I had spent the last few hours writing another 5000 words getting really nitty-gritty with offensive concepts & other information, but it got deleted. I want to respond, but it won't be nearly as long so I am sorry.

1) I think we are not the best shooting team in the NBA. Simply because are not elite at converting shots at the rim. And we dont generate and convert enough FTs. We might be in consideration as one of the best 3pt shooting team though. However, lets not simlpify our identity only to shooting.

On the contrary, I think we can at a high-level simplify the majority of the discussion about the Wolves & other teams shooting ability into a conversation about 3 point shooting. I think 3 point numbers can tell you just about everything you need to know about a team in some ways. It is true that there are other important areas to talk about other than 3-point shooting, but it's all secondary.

Point #1 - It is all about the possessions baby!

The way that I view the modern NBA is it's all about math. There are 3 key things that a team should try & maximize 1) Maximize the number of offensive possessions that you generate 2) Minimize the number of possessions that an opposing team has in a game 3) Maximize the efficiency of your possessions in a game.

Basically, in a much-simplified example at the beginning of any game a each team starts out with 100 possessions or shots per game. You lose possessions & the other team gains possessions if you turn the ball over or give up second-chance points. If you are a team that can consistently minimize the number of turnovers & second-chance points that you give up at an elite-level, while also generating turnovers at an elite level...the other team is forced to score at a more efficient level than you to beat you. Either that, or they have to figure out how to create more possessions & take possessions from you. There are other ways to do this like increasing pace as well.

Lastly, if one team is more efficient than the other in those 100 possessions. The other team, again, has to generate extra possessions, either by taking them from you, or increasing their pace to try and overcome that deficit in efficiency. So, teams should look to maximize the number of points possible in those 100 possessions and the likelihood of generating a higher number of points. This can be controlled by teams through shot-selection. If a team, inherently through their shot selection, takes more efficient shots compared to another team... the team that takes the more-efficient shots will win just about every 50/50 game because the math at its core is not equal.

If a team has the same number of possessions as another team & has an offensive scheme that results in a shot-selection that is less efficient, that team will have to either score that much more efficiently than average or generate extra possessions to beat the other team with the more efficient shot selection (assuming the 2 PT FG%, 3 PT FG%, & FT% of both teams is the same in this example).

Point 2 - 3 point shooting explains at a high-level the type of offensive scheme run by the team & also teams that have an inherent efficiency advantage driven from the optimization of their shot selection from a math perspective

This is where 3-point shooting comes in. For me, I can look at the number of 3-point shots that a team takes and see if they are inherently (though there is more nuance) playing games at an advantage from a math perspective. Now it is possible that a team can take a lot of 3's and make that a point of emphasis while not being good at it, but generally, teams that take a lot of 3 points also prioritize floor spacing as a core-concept.

Basically, these teams that play the game this way will usually make 3-5 more 3 PT FG's than the opposing team they face. This means that opposing teams from the very structure of the shots they are taking have to actually outplay the other team in order to win a 50/50 game so to speak. This divide can grow larger if one-team is prioritizing shots at the rim & getting to the line versus another team that is taking mid-range jump shots.

Now, it's great to know that you should be taking shots from certain areas, but the other component is actually being able to execute those shots at a high-level. If a team were to be among the league leaders in 3 point attempts & the league leaders in 3 point efficiency, the gap between them & an average team from a math perspective would at a base-level put the 3-point shooting team in a more advantageous situation odds-wise than the team that isn't shooting 3's. That team that isn't shooting 3's has to outplay the 3 point shooting team in some other area by a degree that is equal or greater to the value of the differential in points generated by the differential in 3 point shots.

Basically, I think you can gain a lot of information from viewing both the volume & efficiency on which they make those 3's--it is an indicator of pretty much everything that is going on the court in a given game.

A team that shoots a huge volume of 3 point shots at an elite level increases their margin for error. It's the base for which the rest of the offense can be interpreted. So when I am looking for the Wolves to prioritize 3-point shooting, it is because the #1 most impactful area that would lead to the most amount of improvement would be for the Wolves to actually take the second step & match personal to the style that they are attempting to play.

Further to continue the discussion on the insight you can gain from 3-point shooting numbers, I would argue that in just about every case 3-point shooting % & FT% are relatively highly correlated. I think it's fair to suggest that if you are talking about maximizing floor spacing & bringing in certain types of players that this will also likely lead to an increase in a team's FT% in just about all cases. This is a small point, but worth noting.

Point 3 - Bringing this back to how it relates to the Timberwolves

I am going to go into more detail in response to your second point, but basically I think it is important to be careful about attaching the eye-test to the numbers without doing research to confirm if that observation is actually true or not.

A couple of facts about the Timberwolves offense:

- 3 point shooting - The Timberwolves offense post-trade ranked #3 in 3 pt attempts & around #6 or #7 in 3 point percentage.
- Free Throws - The Timberwolves rank #3 in the NBA in the average number of free throws drawn per game (and ranked 6th post-trade on the same number of attempts to pre-trades), but rank just 22nd in FT%
-The Wolves rank in the bottom 10 in FG% inside 5 feet & in transition points generated
-The Wolves rank #14th in 2 point percentage (evidence is the maximization of shot-selection compared to the average NBA team despite struggles at finishing at the rim & the impact that optimization of shot-selection can have)
-Karl Towns is the most efficient high-usage scorer in the league factoring in his ability to create for others as well with a TS% of 63%

I want to call-out that the Wolves may not have a single player who is elite a getting to the line, but do appear to get to the line as well as just about every team in the NBA. The Wolves struggle to make FT's at a high-level, this is another problem that could be fixed with the addition of additional above average 3 point shooters into the Wolves rotation and the minimization of non-floor spacing players. Additional 3-point shooting & FT shooting efficiency in the Wolves rotation would lead to the biggest possible increase in point differential for the Wolves.

An offense that is among the league best in # of FT's drawn, FT efficiency, 3 point makes, & 3 point efficiency, & the optimization of their shot selection is virtually guaranteed to be a top 5 offense & likely even better than that despite being average to below average in other areas that in an ideal world would be executed at a higher level.



2) I am sure Rosas does not want to win the best 3pt shooting team competition, he is copying HOU model neither. Instead, he tries to build similar processes in order to achieve success as NBA organization.

I don't agree with this all, but maybe it's just the way you worded it. I don't think it's correct to say that Rosas is directly copying the Hou offense, but Rosas did bring the core principles of the Houston offense with him to Minnesota--that much is evident. The core principles that the Hou offense revolves around are 1) Maximize floor-spacing 2) Maximize the number of possessions that your best player(s) have the ball 3) Optimize your supporting cast to maximize your best player(s) play style 4) Optimize shot selection roster-wide to get the most amount of value from the # of makes in any given game.

Hou has consistently shown as the offense has evolved & changed into what can probably be called 3 different iterations. Before the Rockets acquired Paul or Westbrook we saw Houston implement the 4 core guiding principles above to maximize spacing & roster construction around James Harden & run as many possessions through Harden as possible when he is on the floor.

Iteration 1 - Single Initiator/Harden-Centric

Houston believed/believes that it is an advantage for them to allow their best offensive player to make decisions on the most amount of plays possible compared to another player that isn't as dynamic as Harden. In addition, they believe that by creating as much possible spacing as possible... they made it as hard as possible for opposing teams to be able to help on Harden... and as costly as possible in terms of open shooters on the perimeter created from the choices that defenses had to make between letting Harden get a scoring opportunity in a high-percentage scoring area or cutting off that opportunity by helping off of a player on the perimeter.

Houston knew that with Harden executing the decisions & a roster-construction that makes teams pay more than other roster constructions for leaving perimeter shooters open, that through this relatively non-complex scheme... they could generate high-quality shots on just about every possession. Either, an above-average 3 point shooter spotting up behind the arc or one of the best individual scorers in the league finishing the possession. In addition, this type of simple-read offense has other benefits as well. Earlier I mentioned that really basketball is about trying to win the game of creating or taking possessions from the other team. This type of offense should limit the number of turnovers that result because the lack of complexity. This actually is one extremely impactful way to improve your team defense, despite any defensive limitations, and play basketball from a math perspective that puts you in an advantageous perspective in more games than not.

Iteration 2 - Double Initiator/Staggered Single Initiator - Dual-centric

After initial success, Houston acquired Chris Paul fundamentally changing the roster construction from the single-initiator offense previously described. Houston's offense had to fundamentally change in terms of the way it operated in response to this addition, but really Houston just re-implemented their core principles to optimize their best players once again. Houston moved from a single-initiator offense to a double-initiator offense, instead of Harden starting & essentially making the decision that would finish just about every possession when he was on the floor... both Harden & Paul had to spend time off-ball as a floor spacer... which worked well because both players can shoot at an above-average level. In addition, this change allowed Houston to maximize the roster-construction in all minutes on the floor instead of struggling once the primary initiator left the floor to get rest. Houston was able to stagger minutes to allow at least one of Harden or Paul to be on the floor at any given team & allow each ball-dominant player to play as many minutes as possible as the primary initiator. Lastly, Houston continued to maximize spacing around Paul and/or Harden with their role players. To a more minor degree, Paul had some more freedom to operate more in the mid-range area that the rest of the Houston roster hardly used.

Iteration 3 - Maximizing Westbrook

Houston at this time realized the value of having a second initiator in order to allow the offense to function in the hands of an elite initiator during all 48 minutes. However, the trade of Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook forced Houston again to make changes to the way their offense & supporting cast looks in order to continue to follow their guiding principles.

I didn't previously go into Capela's role in the Houston offense, but the previous iterations were very PnR heavy forcing teams to make decisions on how to defend the 2-man game being initiated by Harden. If teams switched and put a big man on Harden, it allowed Harden to break the big man down & get off a high percentage 3, beat a slower-footed big man off the dribble, or exploit the mismatch created by a team putting a perimeter defender on Capela & throwing a lob above the rim for a high percentage bucket. This was one of the core staples of the first 2 iterations & Capela was one of the more efficient offensive players in the NBA in that role. This mismatch, while again simple in nature, would consistently put opposing defenders on their heels & generate a high quality option that Houston could exploit against all of the different ways that defenses could play the matchup.

However, after the addition of Westbrook... Houston quickly realized that their spacing was messed up & having 2 non-shooters on the floor allowed opposing teams to double-team on Harden without the same type of consequence from the previous Houston iterations because Houston had a weak link in terms of ability to space the floor. This lack of spacing has residual impacts for all players, Harden struggled much more than he normally did & so did Westbrook. Houston had to make a decision to follow the core-offensive principles & revamp their offense yet against. Again, while the way this offense looks may be different... it is essentially grounded in the same ideology.

Houston knew that it could not operate in an optimized way with multiple poor floor spacers and had to make a decision on how to proceed. In order to create a solution that optimized the spacing & scheme around Houston's best players Westbrook & Harden, Houston made a decision that seemed drastic & out there to a lot of fans...but actually makes total sense based on the way Houston views optimizing offense. Houston realized that they could use Westbrook in some of the same ways that Capela was used in terms of using Westbrook in a rover role & putting Westbrook in situations that maximize his strengths while minimizing his opportunities in the types of plays that expose his weaknesses & also pushing Westbrook to optimize his shot selection based on his strengths.

Using Westbrook as the only-non shooter on the floor fixed the spacing issues & re-opened the driving lanes for both Harden & Westbrook. Houston asked Westbrook to consistently get down-hill & put pressure on the rim in transition & is among the league leaders in attempts at the rim per game & FG% at the rim. Westbrook's skillset is optimized by maximizing the number of possessions doing the things he does best & surrounding him with spacing & shooting to take advantage of any helping defenses when he penetrates.

Basically, Houston's offense has been consistently evolving, but only doing so in order to maximize their offensive efficiency by maximizing their spacing, shot-selection, & putting their best players in optimized ways to succeed.

Rosas brings the core principles to Minnesota

If it was not overt already after explaining Rosas's approach it will be clear that from Day 1 Rosas has set about beginning to implement the core principles from Houston into the Wolves roster. Due to differences in roster construction & best player, the Houston & Minnesota offenses look relatively different, but are clearly based in the same principles.

1) Rosas's first step in Minnesota was to begin to implement a culture & play-style of optimizing shot-selection roster-wide.

Despite roster limitations, Rosas was clear that all of the players on the roster would be working on their shot selection in order to maximize the efficiency of the team's makes despite a long of ability to shoot from the perimeter or score efficiently. This is clearly Rosas defining early on that this Houston core-principle is something that the Wolves will follow to a large degree.

2) Maximize spacing on the floor

Another core Houston principle is to maximize the floor spacing. Rosas immediately tweaked the way that the Wolves approached roster-construction from the previous regime. To evidence this, instead of playing a PG, SG, SF & two bigs during the Thibs regime... Rosas quickly asserted that the Wolves would be defining their position groups as Initiator, Wings, & Big. In order to improve spacing, the Wolves began playing a quasi-SF at the PF position & put Towns as the only big on the floor.

In addition, Rosas implemented a new offensive-scheme for this new lineup with the defining feature of the lineup being a 5-out lineup with Towns at the top of the key. The Wolves on Day 1 did not have the personnel to actually weaponize this attempt at the increase in spacing, but it was clear that the Wolves roster, specifically it's star players were going to get in-game learning on this shift in philosophy.

Rosas throughout his first year as the Wolves GM has made a number of trades in order to improve the spacing of the Wolves roster bringing in D Lo, Beasley, Jauncho, & Jake Layman along with prioritizing G League players & undrafted free agents that fit a certain type of play-style in players like Naz Reid, Jordan McLaughlin, Kelan Martin, & Jaylen Nowell. All of these players are above average volume perimeter shooters for their position, at least at the G league level.

It is likely that Rosas will continue to add spacers to continue to optimize rotations and avoid having to play lineups with multiple non-shooters.

3 & 4) Optimize the roster around the best player & maximize the number of possessions for that player

The Timberwolves & the 5-out scheme have begun to implement a scheme that is specifically designed to maximize the gravity that Towns commands as the level of scorer & shooter that he is at a position that normally does not offer that kind of skillset. In using this scheme as basically the base scheme that the healthy Wolves will run, it allows the Wolves to immediately attack defenses that are in a disadvantageous situation compared to the majority of team base defenses--especially against weak rim protectors. This scheme choice allows the Wolves to force defenses to make choices in order to either try and keep Towns from creating high-quality shots at will or give up open perimeter jump shots.

The 5-man out scheme with Towns at the top of the key allows the Wolves & Karl Towns to maximize his unique skillset. Towns is one of the better 3-point shooters in the league. This lineup forces opposing teams 5, that are generally more comfortable in the paint & around the rim to come out to the perimeter to defend Towns. Opposing 5's are generally slower footed than Towns & reluctant to come all of the way out leaving them unable to get all of the way back to rim on time. However, if opposing bigs do not come all the way out to the perimeter this is essentially a practice shot for Towns. If opposing 5's do come all of the way out to the perimeter, Towns is skilled enough to be able to put the ball on the ground against 5's & drive down a wide-open lane with no rim protection as the 5 is out on the perimeter along with the other opposing wings. If an opposing wing chooses to try & rotate to cut off Towns driving angle, than Towns can kick it to a wide-open perimeter shooter.

This scheme, similar to Houston's scheme, is relatively simple in nature... however it forces defenses to 1) defend in a non-optimal way, there are not many teams that prefer to operate with their 5 the furthest away from the rim & their other defenders spread out around the perimeter 2) Make choices to react to the mismatch created by the way the scheme is set up that lead to consistent high-quality shot opportunities 3) Maximise the spacing on the floor, opening up driving lanes, & making it extremely difficult for opposing teams to properly defend the rim.

Having Towns at the top of the key also gives him a 2 way-go. This makes it much more difficult for opposing teams to double Towns compared to say in the post or the elbow because Towns has the visibility to see the whole floor in front of him & can react early to double teams by going in the opposite direction. That is, provided that opposing teams have to respect the spacing around Towns--if the Wolves have multiple non-floor spacers on the floor... opposing teams can cheat off of players on the perimeter creating more crowded driving lanes to the rim & double Towns without consequence.

In addition, this base-scheme is relatively easy to shift into playing 2-man games above the elbow around the 3 point line with the Wolves best initiators (i.e. D Lo & Beasley). Towns can start with the ball at the top of the key & take a couple of steps in either direction & use his body to create hand-off/fake-hand-off scenarios, create space for perimeter shooters who can space the floor at an above-average level, & also play off of an initiator in either a PnR or PnP game forcing teams into mismatches or high quality looks.

Basically, this one-scheme--the 5-out scheme--allows the Wolves to maximize the gravity that Towns create by dictating the way the entire opposing defense has to set up, put Towns in positions to use his best skills in the most amount of possessions, run a high-number of different sets & variations of those sets out of the same initial look, & consistently generate high-quality shots by choosing certain decisions based off of the weakness of the defense depending on their choice of how to play a scenario.

Conclusion

I think it is overwhelmingly obvious that Rosas is, in fact, trying to emulate the core principles around how to optimize & create an elite offense. I think suggesting otherwise is not grounded in the reality of the vision that Rosas is trying to pursue for the Wolves roster. I think it is fair to disagree with the approach if you find flaws in it or do not believe that the Houstonian principles can generate elite offense that is an opinion that you would be allowed to have though Houston has been able to consistently use the principles to generate elite offensive teams with multiple different types of roster construction.


This team needs balance badly. A balance between defense and offense, between made 3pt shots and converted easy shots at the rim. Between experience and raw potential. Between size and mobility. Currently, we are bad at shooting at the rim, we do create many quality opportunities in the paint, but we don't have explosive athletes, the last one we traded was Wiggins, we don't have rim runners. Our lead ballhandler is DLo, who is a shooter, but he is not a slasher and he does not generate FTs at a high rate. However, we have a massive advantage of having two elite passers in KAT and DLo who happen to be our main decision-makers and scorers. We MUST sign/draft/trade/develop quality cutter/finisher/slasher and shot creators.

Point #1 - I think it's important to unpack this statement to its core because it's fundamentally starting from the wrong place.

I actually strongly disagree with the way that you are approaching thinking about the way to approach the appropriate next steps to improve the Wolves roster. It doesn't make sense to say that the Wolves need balance, or that they need elite athletes or rim-runners in it of itself. If you run through the logic game associated with this question, you may end up with a conclusion that the Wolves need some of those things, but that's not the right place to start. The right question to ask is how can the Wolves optimize their offensive efficiency around the offensive identity that maximizes the effectiveness of the teams star players.

The right next steps is the steps that generate the most efficient offense for current roster construction. In most cases, the right way to create an elite offense is not through trying to balance out the roster to have a little bit of everything jack of all trades master of none type approach. The right approach is to figure out the play types or situations that your best players do best & do that thing as much as possible until defense is forced to do something to help which opens up another player on the floor or at the very least forces a defense to begin to start to try & execute rotations without any issues & allows your offense to attack a moving & scrambling defense.

In the world of economics (which is my trade), we call this maximizing comparative advantages. The most efficient way from a country to produce goods is not to produce every possible good--even the ones that it doesn't have the tools, resources, technology, or other determinant factors in order to produce a good efficiently. The way to most efficiently produce an output is to utilize the factors that you do comparatively better than competing countries to create the goods that you can produce at a comparative advantage to other competing companies because of your ability to do some more efficiently based on maximizing the things that you are best at. This example does not directly apply to basketball, but I think that it fits this example. It is a wrong and inherently non-efficient way to approach building an offense to want a team to pursue a balanced offense & to ask a team to increase the number of possessions it is running with the types of plays or outcomes that a team doesn't do well.

It does not make sense for the Wolves to pursue additional offensive outcomes that would not generate offense as efficiently as the things that their best players do at an elite level for the sake of balance because when watching games it seems like their offense is missing certain aspects that appear to make it one-dimensional. In the Wolves case, the main reason that the Wolves scheme could be solved at times or too consistently last season is not because of a lack of athletes, rim-runners, D Lo's ability or lack of ability to generate FT's or any of the other reasons that you just mentioned. The reason that the Wolves scheme was inconsistent last season is that the roster is non-optimized in a big way to maximize the scheme.

The Wolves, especially pre-trade, were running an offense in which they were shooting close to the league lead in # of 3 point attempts... a number big enough to put the Wolves in the all-time records of highest average number of attempts per game... they were running this scheme with a supporting cast that was one of the worst floor spacing/3-point shooting supporting casts in the history of the modern NBA--it was certainly the worst supporting cast to run the type of offense the Wolves tried to run.

The reason for inconsistent success offensively this season was not the things that you suggested, it was due in almost its entirety to the majority of the Wolves lineups having 2 or even 3 non-shooters on the floor. The scheme that Rosas is attempting to have the Wolves run works only as well as its ability to force opposing defenses to say attached to their defenders creating the spacing & the lanes that put defenses on their heels.

Post-trade & mid-season roster revamp brought the Wolves multiple steps forward in the right direction, but they lag behind the teams that compare most similarly to them in a couple of key ways that will make the true reason for the difference in offensive efficiencies between the Wolves offense & the Hou/Dal offenses extremely apparent. There is essentially one-key factor that explains almost the entirety of the difference between the two offenses.

Comparing the Houston, Minnesota, & Dalllas offenses


Comparing Each Teams #1 Option

As mentioned earlier in this post, one of the important core pieces of the this type of offense is maximizing the number of possessions used by the #1 option. In this case, this is to compare Harden, Towns & Doncic.

Towns is actually the most efficient perimeter shooter & the most efficient scorer of the group, especially compared to Doncic. Harden & Doncic, as perimeter players, generate more offense for their teammates. I think it's fair to make an argument that in this initial comparision that the Wolves offense has the most efficient scorer as a #1 option. The higher-level takeaway being that the differences in offensive efficiency aren't related to the ability of the #1 scorer in that offense is built around.

Comparing Teams Top 3 Perimeter Options

Another important piece of maximizing this type of offense is the ability to space the floor. There are two kinds of spacing the floor, perimeter shooting from the team's primary options that is to a much larger degree off the dribble or not from supporting players.

The Wolves top 3 perimeter shooters are actually the best of these 3 teams as well by a decent margin. The Wolves top 3 players make 3's at about a 40% clip on about 25 attempts per game based on this season's stats. Houston's top 3 is closer to 34-35% from 3 from their big 3 on almost 30 attempts per game. The Mavs big 3 shoots about 35-36% on about 23 or 24 attempts per game.

This comparison is meant to show that the issue with the Wolves roster as currently constructed is not the core-players that the Wolves rely on to shoulder the majority of the scoring load. The Wolves, again, are actually probably have the most efficient shooters at this top level.

Comparing Supporting Casts Ability To Space The Floor

Houston has 10 rotation players after their big 3 (Harden, Gordin & Covington) that combine to shoot about 37-38% from 3 on over 20 attempts per game. Each of these supporting rotation players, shoots 35% or greater from 3. The only rotation player that is a minus shooter in Houston's rotation is Westbrook who has been able to thrive in that role.

Dallas has 9 rotation players outside of their core 3 scorers (Luka, Hardaway Jr, & Porzingis) that combine to shoot 40% from 3 on over 30 attempts per game. Each of these players shoots 35% or better from 3. The Mavs also only have one rotation player that shoots at a below-average level from 3 that is not a big.

The Wolves have only 3 rotation players that shoot above a 35% level from 3 outside of their big 3 (Jauncho, Johnson, & McLaughlin). These are all players that were not in the Wolves primary rotation until post-roster shake-up. Combined the Wolves 8 or 9 supporting rotation players should around 32 or 33% from 3.

I do also think it is fair to have hope that Layman & Reid can develop into borderline 35%+ guys or even 35%+ players in the future (both were at 33%). In addition, I think it is fair to have some optimism around the ability for Kelan Martin & Nowell to develop into these types of players as well.

The Wolves play in their rotation 3 & sometimes 4 players with a sub 30% 3 PT FG% in Culver/Okogie/Martin/Nowell. In addition, Reid & Layman are not consistent enough at this point for defenses to respect them in a magnitude that forces teams to deal with the consequences of over-helping & shifting defense to inside driving lanes or towards the Wolves star players. This is compared to Houston & the Mavericks that essentially do not play any non-shooting non-bigs other than the unique situation with Westbrook.

Free-Throw Shooting

- Houston draws 26 free throw attempts per game and makes free throws at a 79% clip.

- Minnesota draws 25.4 free throw attempts per game and makes free throws at a 75% clip.

-Dallas draws 23.4 free throw per game and makes them at a 77% clip

I think it's situations like these where, as fans, we have to be careful to make misconceptions that because the Wolves shoot a lot of perimeter shots & because they do not have a primary initiator that can get to the line at the same rate as a Harden or Doncic that the Wolves as a team struggle in this area. The Wolves actually draw fouls at the same rate or better as the two most efficient offenses in the NBA & are in the top 3 NBA-wide in terms of the number of free throws per game.

The only improvement area that the Wolves really need in this category goes back to the same issue as previously mentioned. Despite being a team that relies on shooting perimeter shots & free throws as much or more than any other NBA team... the Wolves have a huge portion of their rotation that is well-below average in this category as well.

The two biggest ways to immediately add points per game to the Wolves offensive output would be to add multiple averages or better wing shooters in the draft. If the Wolves supporting cast could make 3 pointers & free throws at the same rate as Houston's that would add 4.0-5.5 points per game to the Wolves offensive output jumping them from 9th in PPG to in the 117-118 range along with Milwaukee, Houston, & the Mavs

Finishing at the rim

The Wolves are also worse at finishing at the rim compared to Houston & the Mavs by a couple of % points. In some ways this is indicative of a lack of rotation players with finishing abilities... but I would argue that just as much it's the impact of the Wolves spacing being non-optimized because of the lack of floor spacing outside of the core of their rotation. Multiple non-shooters on the floor allows opposing defenses to cheat into the lane without worry of being burned & leads to tougher & more contested shots on a more consistent basis.

Adding additional floor spacing in the Wolves rotation would much more closely optimize the spacing that the offensive scheme is intended to generate and subsequently more open driving lanes that generate as a result of the additional spacing.

Conclusion -

I think it's important to be careful in analyzing numbers because while the narrative that the Wolves might make sense in terms of the way that you are describing the Wolves offense & things that the offense doesn't do or doesn't appear to do, I am not sure that the narrative holds up to increased scrutiny if analyzed under a microscope as I have just done.

I think the shift in mindset to understand that the best way to increase offensively efficiency is to maximize the number of times that an offense does the types of things that it does at the most-efficient level, is the better way to optimize an offense. This is why the Houston & Minnesota offenses described seem to be relatively simple in nature, but at its core is basically creating an offense putting the teams most efficient scorer in the most advantageous position to exploit an advantage the most amount of times creating an absolute maximum, based on your roster construction, in terms of how efficiently the offense can produce.

Basically, you are asking the player on your team that over any number of outcomes is the most likely to maximize the output of those outcomes & putting that player in a position to do the types of things that they do best with those scenarios the most amount of time.

Around those primary players, understanding that not every player can be elite... you are asking your role players to maximize the efficiency of the output of their scenarios by focusing on only shooting from high % outcome areas & by targeting players that can be flawed as long as they have one average-to above average skill.

This effectively allows your role players, who are flawed players on their own, to maximize the efficiency of their output and perform in a way from a numbers perspective that is indicative of a much more elite level of skill. For example, Dallas can take it's non-big role players and produce a cumulative 40% output from 3, which is elite efficiency, despite non-of those players being star players by any means.

This is the goal of the type of offense that the Wolves are trying to create & this is why it does really all come down to the Wolves ability to target & gather shooting to create a roster that much more closely resembles the role players that Houston & Dallas have gathered.

In addition to further game out the point about why it's important for the Wolves to prioritize shooting. It is important for the Wolves to prioritize shooting first & foremost in a big way because if you walk through the numbers it is really clearly apparent that most, if not all, of the difference in ultimate output between offenses like Houston & Dallas versus the Timberwolves. The difference between the two roster construction and ability of the secondary players outside of the core players for each team to efficiently space the floor accounts for basically all of the difference in point totals if you normalize the Wolves to Houston or Dallas levels in terms of the efficiency of spacing the floor from it's secondary players.

In fact, if that exercise is performed the Wolves offense actually produces more points on average than both Houston & Dallas because of the fact that the Wolves #1 option is the most efficient scorer on either of the 3 teams & the core 3 of the Wolves is by far the most efficient in terms of spacing the floor. This means that if the Wolves role players can match the efficiency of Dallas or Houston, the Wolves offense will actually produce at a higher level than either of the two teams.

Lastly, on this topic I think it's important to call out that an additional important reason to prioritize shooting right away & in this draft is because while this post has explained a possible path for the Wolves to become as good of an offense as any in the league... it is important to call out that their roster is not without limitations. That is, the Wolves core has inherent defensive limitations that at least to some degree (we can debate on how much) limit the Wolves ceiling on the defensive side of the floor.

The Wolves do not have a choice, but to rely on defensively flawed players in primary & core ways in their defensive scheme--it is unclear how much adding above-average defensive players around the Wolves core can actually solve the Wolves defensive issues if the core issues are still present. In addition, will the impact of those contributions defensively alongside a likely trade-off in terms of optimizing offensive efficiency be truly more of a positive impact than a negative? I don't think the answer to that question is very obvious.

In addition, if the Wolves were to pursue a path of doing everything they can to maximize whatever ceiling they have on the defensive side... how much of an impact could any moves that the Wolves make really improve their defensive ranking? Do I think it is possible for the Wolves, anchored by D Lo & Towns, to be a top 10-15 defensive team with all of the right pieces around them? Yes, I do. Do I think that comes with trade-offs in terms of offensive output & a path of way too many non-shooting rotation players...I think that as well.

Looking around the league & being realistic at the Wolves limitations, I think you can try & look for other team constructions or systems that can create success.

-There are teams like the Bucks & Lakers that are top 10 in both offensive & defensive efficiency...it's clear that this type of model would work. Is it a realistic model for the Wolves? Probably not.

-There are teams like the Raptors that rank #2 in defensive efficiency & are just outside of the top 10 in offensive efficiency. This model doesn't fit the Wolves either.

-There is another model of success that has clearly emerged, this is the model from the Rockets, Mavs, & to a lesser degree the Heat. This model combines high-volume/high-efficiency floor spacing with elite offensive efficiency & average to below average defensive efficiency. The Rockets & Mavs rank #1&2 in offensive rating & #16&17 in defensive rating (Heat are #7 & 14 respectively). That is a model that the Wolves can much more clearly replicate in a way that makes sense.



I have a lot of faith in Layman and Martin, because they both fit really well in 1-3-1 scheme.

I agree with you here as well, though I am not sure that the fact that they are on their roster would dissuade me from targeting additional floor spacing wings.

I think Martin has the chance to be a really interesting player in this scheme if the Wolves can figure out a way to develop him. The development of some of these internal players is the biggest x factor when trying to project out the Wolves ceiling. Martin actually has a body type similar to PJ Tucker or Draymond Green at 6'5 or 6'6 with a 7'3 wingspan and weighing 230 pounds. If Martin develops into a player who can play the 2-4 & even some small ball 5 while shooting at an average or above average level from the perimeter... that would be huge. I hope he develops.





3) I agree that Vassell looks like an ideal fit here at SF. I also like Avdija versatility. However, given our situation with a lot more time for draft preparation both for NBA organizations and players I see why the draft stock may change a lot. I do believe that we trade our FRP, if after 7 months of draft preparation no one from draft prospects impresses Rosas and Co. I think that problem playing of Culver or Okogie is that they both are bad shooters AND bad finishers at the rim. This combination of weaknesses really hurts our offense. Look at Westbrook, he is a bad shooter, and he is an average finisher at the rim, he does not even have advanced dribbling nor moves, but he is an elite athlete, so HOU has opened the court for him and he is having an excellent season. He is a factor. Why I see Aaron Gordon as an excellent fit both financially and skills-wise. He is an elite athlete who NEVER played in modern offense with solid shooters and playmakers around. If we open court for him we will do wonders for us. There are few players who can stop him in space because he is too strong, too athletic, too quick, too mobile. How many dunks had a rookie Culver this season? Imagine how many dunks will have Gordon here. We might not be the best shooting team in the NBA, but we really might have a chance to become the best pace-and-space team.


Quick responses:

Vassell

Vassell is an ideal fit partially because he projects to both be able to execute efficiently on offense in this scheme in a role offensively & also helps improve the Wolves defensive issues on the perimeter with his length, athleticism, and defensive energy. I am not sure that there is a player in this draft that could make more of a positive impact in terms of giving the Wolves high-impact minutes with a skillset that fits in an ideal way into the types of players that the Wolves need to help maximize their offense. There may be other players in a vacuum that are better players individually, but Vassell would create more value in the Wolves rotation than any other player in this draft.

Avidija

I don't like Avdija. I don't like players that are supposed to be shooters with absolutely awful FT%'s. Avidija seems to be a guy who has been marketed as a shooter despite never showing the ability to consistently be an above-average shooter.

Okogie & Culver

I agree with you that the Wolves are hurt by playing too many non-shooters. I do want to flesh out this point a little bit because I think there is some nuance that is important to pull out here.

Okogie is an awful 3 point shooter, but he actually scores at a league-average efficiency despite his shooting issues which is relatively impressive. Okogie is able to generate offensive value by getting to the free throw line at an extremely high rate during the minutes he plays. Okogie on a per minute basis, is actually among the league leaders in FT rate. In addition, he hits his free throws at an above average level. Okogie is an 80% free throw shooter. So despite shooting limitations, Okogie has at least developed one skill that can allow him to contribute positively consistently. In addition, despite some struggles to finish at the rim especially when trying to create his own offense (evidenced by many wild flailing Okogie possessions), he is actually decently efficient from the 2 PT range at 53%. This is likely because Okogie has also shown that he is a really willing receiver in transition & can generate easy buckets through that energy expenditure. In addition, Okogie creates offense from his defense by generating turnovers leading to easy-buckets on the other end.

Okogie developing a few of these ways to make a positive impact offensively despite his lack of shooting should actually be viewed as a positive. Okogie is a league average efficiency offensive player despite being one of the worst 3 point shooting perimeter players in the league at this point in his career. If Okogie can even develop a 3 PT shot in the low .30s he will actually be an above average efficiency offensive producer. I think it is a lot more realistic to be optimistic for that type of projection given Okogie's age (21) & FT% (80%).

These traits combined with the fact that Okogie is likely the Wolves best & most disruptive perimeter defender actually lends me to believe that Okogie will likely be a long-term piece. I don't think it is fair to group Culver & Okogie together directly.

Culver is much worse from an efficiency standpoint & is near the league bottom in offensive efficiency, free throw percentage, doesn't space the floor. In addition, Culver isn't really an athlete to make an impact in transition or without the ball in his hands. Okogie's skillset translates much better as role player. I do not have much hope for Culver at this point.

Though, if Okogie cannot develop his shot a little bit more it will be difficult to have any other non-shooting perimeter players going forward.

Gordon

Gordon would be a huge mistake for the Wolves. Gordon the actual player, is not really the player many envision him to be based on dunk contests & athletic potential. Offensively he's not really a powerful player & is much more of a finesse perimeter player that isn't particular efficient in any skill offensively. I don't think Westbrook & Gordon are comparables at all, though I suppose I see your idea. Westbrook plays much more explosively, and while he may have some limitations in his handle, is many magnitudes better of a ball handler & much quicker & more powerful than Gordon--at least in terms of the way they play on the court.

I'm not sure that it makes sense to give up assets to trade for Gordon who is getting paid 20m a year to be a player who is average to below average on both sides of the ball. I don't think it makes sense to design any offensive sets around him & I don't think Aaron Gordon led possessions lead to an efficient outcome offensively. In addition, Gordon is not really the impact defensive player than many envision. He isn't bad, but he really doesn't move the needle.

Trading for Gordon would severely limit the Wolves roster flexibility & isn't an ideal roster fit... though I would love him as a rotation player for say $10m.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#11 » by TheZachAttack » Tue Jun 9, 2020 6:48 am

I am not sure why the majority of my post frmatted inside of the quotation box.

TheZachAttack wrote:
minimus wrote:Wow! First of all, really appreciate your work, mate! That's a lot of stats, numbers!
With regard to your question:

Well I had spent the last few hours writing another 5000 words getting really nitty-gritty with offensive concepts & other information, but it got deleted. I want to respond, but it won't be nearly as long so I am sorry.

1) I think we are not the best shooting team in the NBA. Simply because are not elite at converting shots at the rim. And we dont generate and convert enough FTs. We might be in consideration as one of the best 3pt shooting team though. However, lets not simlpify our identity only to shooting.

On the contrary, I think we can at a high-level simplify the majority of the discussion about the Wolves & other teams shooting ability into a conversation about 3 point shooting. I think 3 point numbers can tell you just about everything you need to know about a team in some ways. It is true that there are other important areas to talk about other than 3-point shooting, but it's all secondary.

Point #1 - It is all about the possessions baby!

The way that I view the modern NBA is it's all about math. There are 3 key things that a team should try & maximize 1) Maximize the number of offensive possessions that you generate 2) Minimize the number of possessions that an opposing team has in a game 3) Maximize the efficiency of your possessions in a game.

Basically, in a much-simplified example at the beginning of any game a each team starts out with 100 possessions or shots per game. You lose possessions & the other team gains possessions if you turn the ball over or give up second-chance points. If you are a team that can consistently minimize the number of turnovers & second-chance points that you give up at an elite-level, while also generating turnovers at an elite level...the other team is forced to score at a more efficient level than you to beat you. Either that, or they have to figure out how to create more possessions & take possessions from you. There are other ways to do this like increasing pace as well.

Lastly, if one team is more efficient than the other in those 100 possessions. The other team, again, has to generate extra possessions, either by taking them from you, or increasing their pace to try and overcome that deficit in efficiency. So, teams should look to maximize the number of points possible in those 100 possessions and the likelihood of generating a higher number of points. This can be controlled by teams through shot-selection. If a team, inherently through their shot selection, takes more efficient shots compared to another team... the team that takes the more-efficient shots will win just about every 50/50 game because the math at its core is not equal.

If a team has the same number of possessions as another team & has an offensive scheme that results in a shot-selection that is less efficient, that team will have to either score that much more efficiently than average or generate extra possessions to beat the other team with the more efficient shot selection (assuming the 2 PT FG%, 3 PT FG%, & FT% of both teams is the same in this example).

Point 2 - 3 point shooting explains at a high-level the type of offensive scheme run by the team & also teams that have an inherent efficiency advantage driven from the optimization of their shot selection from a math perspective

This is where 3-point shooting comes in. For me, I can look at the number of 3-point shots that a team takes and see if they are inherently (though there is more nuance) playing games at an advantage from a math perspective. Now it is possible that a team can take a lot of 3's and make that a point of emphasis while not being good at it, but generally, teams that take a lot of 3 points also prioritize floor spacing as a core-concept.

Basically, these teams that play the game this way will usually make 3-5 more 3 PT FG's than the opposing team they face. This means that opposing teams from the very structure of the shots they are taking have to actually outplay the other team in order to win a 50/50 game so to speak. This divide can grow larger if one-team is prioritizing shots at the rim & getting to the line versus another team that is taking mid-range jump shots.

Now, it's great to know that you should be taking shots from certain areas, but the other component is actually being able to execute those shots at a high-level. If a team were to be among the league leaders in 3 point attempts & the league leaders in 3 point efficiency, the gap between them & an average team from a math perspective would at a base-level put the 3-point shooting team in a more advantageous situation odds-wise than the team that isn't shooting 3's. That team that isn't shooting 3's has to outplay the 3 point shooting team in some other area by a degree that is equal or greater to the value of the differential in points generated by the differential in 3 point shots.

Basically, I think you can gain a lot of information from viewing both the volume & efficiency on which they make those 3's--it is an indicator of pretty much everything that is going on the court in a given game.

A team that shoots a huge volume of 3 point shots at an elite level increases their margin for error. It's the base for which the rest of the offense can be interpreted. So when I am looking for the Wolves to prioritize 3-point shooting, it is because the #1 most impactful area that would lead to the most amount of improvement would be for the Wolves to actually take the second step & match personal to the style that they are attempting to play.

Further to continue the discussion on the insight you can gain from 3-point shooting numbers, I would argue that in just about every case 3-point shooting % & FT% are relatively highly correlated. I think it's fair to suggest that if you are talking about maximizing floor spacing & bringing in certain types of players that this will also likely lead to an increase in a team's FT% in just about all cases. This is a small point, but worth noting.

Point 3 - Bringing this back to how it relates to the Timberwolves

I am going to go into more detail in response to your second point, but basically I think it is important to be careful about attaching the eye-test to the numbers without doing research to confirm if that observation is actually true or not.

A couple of facts about the Timberwolves offense:

- 3 point shooting - The Timberwolves offense post-trade ranked #3 in 3 pt attempts & around #6 or #7 in 3 point percentage.
- Free Throws - The Timberwolves rank #3 in the NBA in the average number of free throws drawn per game (and ranked 6th post-trade on the same number of attempts to pre-trades), but rank just 22nd in FT%
-The Wolves rank in the bottom 10 in FG% inside 5 feet & in transition points generated
-The Wolves rank #14th in 2 point percentage (evidence is the maximization of shot-selection compared to the average NBA team despite struggles at finishing at the rim & the impact that optimization of shot-selection can have)
-Karl Towns is the most efficient high-usage scorer in the league factoring in his ability to create for others as well with a TS% of 63%

I want to call-out that the Wolves may not have a single player who is elite a getting to the line, but do appear to get to the line as well as just about every team in the NBA. The Wolves struggle to make FT's at a high-level, this is another problem that could be fixed with the addition of additional above average 3 point shooters into the Wolves rotation and the minimization of non-floor spacing players. Additional 3-point shooting & FT shooting efficiency in the Wolves rotation would lead to the biggest possible increase in point differential for the Wolves.

An offense that is among the league best in # of FT's drawn, FT efficiency, 3 point makes, & 3 point efficiency, & the optimization of their shot selection is virtually guaranteed to be a top 5 offense & likely even better than that despite being average to below average in other areas that in an ideal world would be executed at a higher level.



2) I am sure Rosas does not want to win the best 3pt shooting team competition, he is copying HOU model neither. Instead, he tries to build similar processes in order to achieve success as NBA organization.

I don't agree with this all, but maybe it's just the way you worded it. I don't think it's correct to say that Rosas is directly copying the Hou offense, but Rosas did bring the core principles of the Houston offense with him to Minnesota--that much is evident. The core principles that the Hou offense revolves around are 1) Maximize floor-spacing 2) Maximize the number of possessions that your best player(s) have the ball 3) Optimize your supporting cast to maximize your best player(s) play style 4) Optimize shot selection roster-wide to get the most amount of value from the # of makes in any given game.

Hou has consistently shown as the offense has evolved & changed into what can probably be called 3 different iterations. Before the Rockets acquired Paul or Westbrook we saw Houston implement the 4 core guiding principles above to maximize spacing & roster construction around James Harden & run as many possessions through Harden as possible when he is on the floor.

Iteration 1 - Single Initiator/Harden-Centric

Houston believed/believes that it is an advantage for them to allow their best offensive player to make decisions on the most amount of plays possible compared to another player that isn't as dynamic as Harden. In addition, they believe that by creating as much possible spacing as possible... they made it as hard as possible for opposing teams to be able to help on Harden... and as costly as possible in terms of open shooters on the perimeter created from the choices that defenses had to make between letting Harden get a scoring opportunity in a high-percentage scoring area or cutting off that opportunity by helping off of a player on the perimeter.

Houston knew that with Harden executing the decisions & a roster-construction that makes teams pay more than other roster constructions for leaving perimeter shooters open, that through this relatively non-complex scheme... they could generate high-quality shots on just about every possession. Either, an above-average 3 point shooter spotting up behind the arc or one of the best individual scorers in the league finishing the possession. In addition, this type of simple-read offense has other benefits as well. Earlier I mentioned that really basketball is about trying to win the game of creating or taking possessions from the other team. This type of offense should limit the number of turnovers that result because the lack of complexity. This actually is one extremely impactful way to improve your team defense, despite any defensive limitations, and play basketball from a math perspective that puts you in an advantageous perspective in more games than not.

Iteration 2 - Double Initiator/Staggered Single Initiator - Dual-centric

After initial success, Houston acquired Chris Paul fundamentally changing the roster construction from the single-initiator offense previously described. Houston's offense had to fundamentally change in terms of the way it operated in response to this addition, but really Houston just re-implemented their core principles to optimize their best players once again. Houston moved from a single-initiator offense to a double-initiator offense, instead of Harden starting & essentially making the decision that would finish just about every possession when he was on the floor... both Harden & Paul had to spend time off-ball as a floor spacer... which worked well because both players can shoot at an above-average level. In addition, this change allowed Houston to maximize the roster-construction in all minutes on the floor instead of struggling once the primary initiator left the floor to get rest. Houston was able to stagger minutes to allow at least one of Harden or Paul to be on the floor at any given team & allow each ball-dominant player to play as many minutes as possible as the primary initiator. Lastly, Houston continued to maximize spacing around Paul and/or Harden with their role players. To a more minor degree, Paul had some more freedom to operate more in the mid-range area that the rest of the Houston roster hardly used.

Iteration 3 - Maximizing Westbrook

Houston at this time realized the value of having a second initiator in order to allow the offense to function in the hands of an elite initiator during all 48 minutes. However, the trade of Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook forced Houston again to make changes to the way their offense & supporting cast looks in order to continue to follow their guiding principles.

I didn't previously go into Capela's role in the Houston offense, but the previous iterations were very PnR heavy forcing teams to make decisions on how to defend the 2-man game being initiated by Harden. If teams switched and put a big man on Harden, it allowed Harden to break the big man down & get off a high percentage 3, beat a slower-footed big man off the dribble, or exploit the mismatch created by a team putting a perimeter defender on Capela & throwing a lob above the rim for a high percentage bucket. This was one of the core staples of the first 2 iterations & Capela was one of the more efficient offensive players in the NBA in that role. This mismatch, while again simple in nature, would consistently put opposing defenders on their heels & generate a high quality option that Houston could exploit against all of the different ways that defenses could play the matchup.

However, after the addition of Westbrook... Houston quickly realized that their spacing was messed up & having 2 non-shooters on the floor allowed opposing teams to double-team on Harden without the same type of consequence from the previous Houston iterations because Houston had a weak link in terms of ability to space the floor. This lack of spacing has residual impacts for all players, Harden struggled much more than he normally did & so did Westbrook. Houston had to make a decision to follow the core-offensive principles & revamp their offense yet against. Again, while the way this offense looks may be different... it is essentially grounded in the same ideology.

Houston knew that it could not operate in an optimized way with multiple poor floor spacers and had to make a decision on how to proceed. In order to create a solution that optimized the spacing & scheme around Houston's best players Westbrook & Harden, Houston made a decision that seemed drastic & out there to a lot of fans...but actually makes total sense based on the way Houston views optimizing offense. Houston realized that they could use Westbrook in some of the same ways that Capela was used in terms of using Westbrook in a rover role & putting Westbrook in situations that maximize his strengths while minimizing his opportunities in the types of plays that expose his weaknesses & also pushing Westbrook to optimize his shot selection based on his strengths.

Using Westbrook as the only-non shooter on the floor fixed the spacing issues & re-opened the driving lanes for both Harden & Westbrook. Houston asked Westbrook to consistently get down-hill & put pressure on the rim in transition & is among the league leaders in attempts at the rim per game & FG% at the rim. Westbrook's skillset is optimized by maximizing the number of possessions doing the things he does best & surrounding him with spacing & shooting to take advantage of any helping defenses when he penetrates.

Basically, Houston's offense has been consistently evolving, but only doing so in order to maximize their offensive efficiency by maximizing their spacing, shot-selection, & putting their best players in optimized ways to succeed.

Rosas brings the core principles to Minnesota

If it was not overt already after explaining Rosas's approach it will be clear that from Day 1 Rosas has set about beginning to implement the core principles from Houston into the Wolves roster. Due to differences in roster construction & best player, the Houston & Minnesota offenses look relatively different, but are clearly based in the same principles.

1) Rosas's first step in Minnesota was to begin to implement a culture & play-style of optimizing shot-selection roster-wide.

Despite roster limitations, Rosas was clear that all of the players on the roster would be working on their shot selection in order to maximize the efficiency of the team's makes despite a long of ability to shoot from the perimeter or score efficiently. This is clearly Rosas defining early on that this Houston core-principle is something that the Wolves will follow to a large degree.

2) Maximize spacing on the floor

Another core Houston principle is to maximize the floor spacing. Rosas immediately tweaked the way that the Wolves approached roster-construction from the previous regime. To evidence this, instead of playing a PG, SG, SF & two bigs during the Thibs regime... Rosas quickly asserted that the Wolves would be defining their position groups as Initiator, Wings, & Big. In order to improve spacing, the Wolves began playing a quasi-SF at the PF position & put Towns as the only big on the floor.

In addition, Rosas implemented a new offensive-scheme for this new lineup with the defining feature of the lineup being a 5-out lineup with Towns at the top of the key. The Wolves on Day 1 did not have the personnel to actually weaponize this attempt at the increase in spacing, but it was clear that the Wolves roster, specifically it's star players were going to get in-game learning on this shift in philosophy.

Rosas throughout his first year as the Wolves GM has made a number of trades in order to improve the spacing of the Wolves roster bringing in D Lo, Beasley, Jauncho, & Jake Layman along with prioritizing G League players & undrafted free agents that fit a certain type of play-style in players like Naz Reid, Jordan McLaughlin, Kelan Martin, & Jaylen Nowell. All of these players are above average volume perimeter shooters for their position, at least at the G league level.

It is likely that Rosas will continue to add spacers to continue to optimize rotations and avoid having to play lineups with multiple non-shooters.

3 & 4) Optimize the roster around the best player & maximize the number of possessions for that player

The Timberwolves & the 5-out scheme have begun to implement a scheme that is specifically designed to maximize the gravity that Towns commands as the level of scorer & shooter that he is at a position that normally does not offer that kind of skillset. In using this scheme as basically the base scheme that the healthy Wolves will run, it allows the Wolves to immediately attack defenses that are in a disadvantageous situation compared to the majority of team base defenses--especially against weak rim protectors. This scheme choice allows the Wolves to force defenses to make choices in order to either try and keep Towns from creating high-quality shots at will or give up open perimeter jump shots.

The 5-man out scheme with Towns at the top of the key allows the Wolves & Karl Towns to maximize his unique skillset. Towns is one of the better 3-point shooters in the league. This lineup forces opposing teams 5, that are generally more comfortable in the paint & around the rim to come out to the perimeter to defend Towns. Opposing 5's are generally slower footed than Towns & reluctant to come all of the way out leaving them unable to get all of the way back to rim on time. However, if opposing bigs do not come all the way out to the perimeter this is essentially a practice shot for Towns. If opposing 5's do come all of the way out to the perimeter, Towns is skilled enough to be able to put the ball on the ground against 5's & drive down a wide-open lane with no rim protection as the 5 is out on the perimeter along with the other opposing wings. If an opposing wing chooses to try & rotate to cut off Towns driving angle, than Towns can kick it to a wide-open perimeter shooter.

This scheme, similar to Houston's scheme, is relatively simple in nature... however it forces defenses to 1) defend in a non-optimal way, there are not many teams that prefer to operate with their 5 the furthest away from the rim & their other defenders spread out around the perimeter 2) Make choices to react to the mismatch created by the way the scheme is set up that lead to consistent high-quality shot opportunities 3) Maximise the spacing on the floor, opening up driving lanes, & making it extremely difficult for opposing teams to properly defend the rim.

Having Towns at the top of the key also gives him a 2 way-go. This makes it much more difficult for opposing teams to double Towns compared to say in the post or the elbow because Towns has the visibility to see the whole floor in front of him & can react early to double teams by going in the opposite direction. That is, provided that opposing teams have to respect the spacing around Towns--if the Wolves have multiple non-floor spacers on the floor... opposing teams can cheat off of players on the perimeter creating more crowded driving lanes to the rim & double Towns without consequence.

In addition, this base-scheme is relatively easy to shift into playing 2-man games above the elbow around the 3 point line with the Wolves best initiators (i.e. D Lo & Beasley). Towns can start with the ball at the top of the key & take a couple of steps in either direction & use his body to create hand-off/fake-hand-off scenarios, create space for perimeter shooters who can space the floor at an above-average level, & also play off of an initiator in either a PnR or PnP game forcing teams into mismatches or high quality looks.

Basically, this one-scheme--the 5-out scheme--allows the Wolves to maximize the gravity that Towns create by dictating the way the entire opposing defense has to set up, put Towns in positions to use his best skills in the most amount of possessions, run a high-number of different sets & variations of those sets out of the same initial look, & consistently generate high-quality shots by choosing certain decisions based off of the weakness of the defense depending on their choice of how to play a scenario.

Conclusion

I think it is overwhelmingly obvious that Rosas is, in fact, trying to emulate the core principles around how to optimize & create an elite offense. I think suggesting otherwise is not grounded in the reality of the vision that Rosas is trying to pursue for the Wolves roster. I think it is fair to disagree with the approach if you find flaws in it or do not believe that the Houstonian principles can generate elite offense that is an opinion that you would be allowed to have though Houston has been able to consistently use the principles to generate elite offensive teams with multiple different types of roster construction.


This team needs balance badly. A balance between defense and offense, between made 3pt shots and converted easy shots at the rim. Between experience and raw potential. Between size and mobility. Currently, we are bad at shooting at the rim, we do create many quality opportunities in the paint, but we don't have explosive athletes, the last one we traded was Wiggins, we don't have rim runners. Our lead ballhandler is DLo, who is a shooter, but he is not a slasher and he does not generate FTs at a high rate. However, we have a massive advantage of having two elite passers in KAT and DLo who happen to be our main decision-makers and scorers. We MUST sign/draft/trade/develop quality cutter/finisher/slasher and shot creators.

Point #1 - I think it's important to unpack this statement to its core because it's fundamentally starting from the wrong place.

I actually strongly disagree with the way that you are approaching thinking about the way to approach the appropriate next steps to improve the Wolves roster. It doesn't make sense to say that the Wolves need balance, or that they need elite athletes or rim-runners in it of itself. If you run through the logic game associated with this question, you may end up with a conclusion that the Wolves need some of those things, but that's not the right place to start. The right question to ask is how can the Wolves optimize their offensive efficiency around the offensive identity that maximizes the effectiveness of the teams star players.

The right next steps is the steps that generate the most efficient offense for current roster construction. In most cases, the right way to create an elite offense is not through trying to balance out the roster to have a little bit of everything jack of all trades master of none type approach. The right approach is to figure out the play types or situations that your best players do best & do that thing as much as possible until defense is forced to do something to help which opens up another player on the floor or at the very least forces a defense to begin to start to try & execute rotations without any issues & allows your offense to attack a moving & scrambling defense.

In the world of economics (which is my trade), we call this maximizing comparative advantages. The most efficient way from a country to produce goods is not to produce every possible good--even the ones that it doesn't have the tools, resources, technology, or other determinant factors in order to produce a good efficiently. The way to most efficiently produce an output is to utilize the factors that you do comparatively better than competing countries to create the goods that you can produce at a comparative advantage to other competing companies because of your ability to do some more efficiently based on maximizing the things that you are best at. This example does not directly apply to basketball, but I think that it fits this example. It is a wrong and inherently non-efficient way to approach building an offense to want a team to pursue a balanced offense & to ask a team to increase the number of possessions it is running with the types of plays or outcomes that a team doesn't do well.

It does not make sense for the Wolves to pursue additional offensive outcomes that would not generate offense as efficiently as the things that their best players do at an elite level for the sake of balance because when watching games it seems like their offense is missing certain aspects that appear to make it one-dimensional. In the Wolves case, the main reason that the Wolves scheme could be solved at times or too consistently last season is not because of a lack of athletes, rim-runners, D Lo's ability or lack of ability to generate FT's or any of the other reasons that you just mentioned. The reason that the Wolves scheme was inconsistent last season is that the roster is non-optimized in a big way to maximize the scheme.

The Wolves, especially pre-trade, were running an offense in which they were shooting close to the league lead in # of 3 point attempts... a number big enough to put the Wolves in the all-time records of highest average number of attempts per game... they were running this scheme with a supporting cast that was one of the worst floor spacing/3-point shooting supporting casts in the history of the modern NBA--it was certainly the worst supporting cast to run the type of offense the Wolves tried to run.

The reason for inconsistent success offensively this season was not the things that you suggested, it was due in almost its entirety to the majority of the Wolves lineups having 2 or even 3 non-shooters on the floor. The scheme that Rosas is attempting to have the Wolves run works only as well as its ability to force opposing defenses to say attached to their defenders creating the spacing & the lanes that put defenses on their heels.

Post-trade & mid-season roster revamp brought the Wolves multiple steps forward in the right direction, but they lag behind the teams that compare most similarly to them in a couple of key ways that will make the true reason for the difference in offensive efficiencies between the Wolves offense & the Hou/Dal offenses extremely apparent. There is essentially one-key factor that explains almost the entirety of the difference between the two offenses.

Comparing the Houston, Minnesota, & Dalllas offenses


Comparing Each Teams #1 Option

As mentioned earlier in this post, one of the important core pieces of the this type of offense is maximizing the number of possessions used by the #1 option. In this case, this is to compare Harden, Towns & Doncic.

Towns is actually the most efficient perimeter shooter & the most efficient scorer of the group, especially compared to Doncic. Harden & Doncic, as perimeter players, generate more offense for their teammates. I think it's fair to make an argument that in this initial comparision that the Wolves offense has the most efficient scorer as a #1 option. The higher-level takeaway being that the differences in offensive efficiency aren't related to the ability of the #1 scorer in that offense is built around.

Comparing Teams Top 3 Perimeter Options

Another important piece of maximizing this type of offense is the ability to space the floor. There are two kinds of spacing the floor, perimeter shooting from the team's primary options that is to a much larger degree off the dribble or not from supporting players.

The Wolves top 3 perimeter shooters are actually the best of these 3 teams as well by a decent margin. The Wolves top 3 players make 3's at about a 40% clip on about 25 attempts per game based on this season's stats. Houston's top 3 is closer to 34-35% from 3 from their big 3 on almost 30 attempts per game. The Mavs big 3 shoots about 35-36% on about 23 or 24 attempts per game.

This comparison is meant to show that the issue with the Wolves roster as currently constructed is not the core-players that the Wolves rely on to shoulder the majority of the scoring load. The Wolves, again, are actually probably have the most efficient shooters at this top level.

Comparing Supporting Casts Ability To Space The Floor

Houston has 10 rotation players after their big 3 (Harden, Gordin & Covington) that combine to shoot about 37-38% from 3 on over 20 attempts per game. Each of these supporting rotation players, shoots 35% or greater from 3. The only rotation player that is a minus shooter in Houston's rotation is Westbrook who has been able to thrive in that role.

Dallas has 9 rotation players outside of their core 3 scorers (Luka, Hardaway Jr, & Porzingis) that combine to shoot 40% from 3 on over 30 attempts per game. Each of these players shoots 35% or better from 3. The Mavs also only have one rotation player that shoots at a below-average level from 3 that is not a big.

The Wolves have only 3 rotation players that shoot above a 35% level from 3 outside of their big 3 (Jauncho, Johnson, & McLaughlin). These are all players that were not in the Wolves primary rotation until post-roster shake-up. Combined the Wolves 8 or 9 supporting rotation players should around 32 or 33% from 3.

I do also think it is fair to have hope that Layman & Reid can develop into borderline 35%+ guys or even 35%+ players in the future (both were at 33%). In addition, I think it is fair to have some optimism around the ability for Kelan Martin & Nowell to develop into these types of players as well.

The Wolves play in their rotation 3 & sometimes 4 players with a sub 30% 3 PT FG% in Culver/Okogie/Martin/Nowell. In addition, Reid & Layman are not consistent enough at this point for defenses to respect them in a magnitude that forces teams to deal with the consequences of over-helping & shifting defense to inside driving lanes or towards the Wolves star players. This is compared to Houston & the Mavericks that essentially do not play any non-shooting non-bigs other than the unique situation with Westbrook.

Free-Throw Shooting

- Houston draws 26 free throw attempts per game and makes free throws at a 79% clip.

- Minnesota draws 25.4 free throw attempts per game and makes free throws at a 75% clip.

-Dallas draws 23.4 free throw per game and makes them at a 77% clip

I think it's situations like these where, as fans, we have to be careful to make misconceptions that because the Wolves shoot a lot of perimeter shots & because they do not have a primary initiator that can get to the line at the same rate as a Harden or Doncic that the Wolves as a team struggle in this area. The Wolves actually draw fouls at the same rate or better as the two most efficient offenses in the NBA & are in the top 3 NBA-wide in terms of the number of free throws per game.

The only improvement area that the Wolves really need in this category goes back to the same issue as previously mentioned. Despite being a team that relies on shooting perimeter shots & free throws as much or more than any other NBA team... the Wolves have a huge portion of their rotation that is well-below average in this category as well.

The two biggest ways to immediately add points per game to the Wolves offensive output would be to add multiple averages or better wing shooters in the draft. If the Wolves supporting cast could make 3 pointers & free throws at the same rate as Houston's that would add 4.0-5.5 points per game to the Wolves offensive output jumping them from 9th in PPG to in the 117-118 range along with Milwaukee, Houston, & the Mavs

Finishing at the rim

The Wolves are also worse at finishing at the rim compared to Houston & the Mavs by a couple of % points. In some ways this is indicative of a lack of rotation players with finishing abilities... but I would argue that just as much it's the impact of the Wolves spacing being non-optimized because of the lack of floor spacing outside of the core of their rotation. Multiple non-shooters on the floor allows opposing defenses to cheat into the lane without worry of being burned & leads to tougher & more contested shots on a more consistent basis.

Adding additional floor spacing in the Wolves rotation would much more closely optimize the spacing that the offensive scheme is intended to generate and subsequently more open driving lanes that generate as a result of the additional spacing.

Conclusion -

I think it's important to be careful in analyzing numbers because while the narrative that the Wolves might make sense in terms of the way that you are describing the Wolves offense & things that the offense doesn't do or doesn't appear to do, I am not sure that the narrative holds up to increased scrutiny if analyzed under a microscope as I have just done.

I think the shift in mindset to understand that the best way to increase offensively efficiency is to maximize the number of times that an offense does the types of things that it does at the most-efficient level, is the better way to optimize an offense. This is why the Houston & Minnesota offenses described seem to be relatively simple in nature, but at its core is basically creating an offense putting the teams most efficient scorer in the most advantageous position to exploit an advantage the most amount of times creating an absolute maximum, based on your roster construction, in terms of how efficiently the offense can produce.

Basically, you are asking the player on your team that over any number of outcomes is the most likely to maximize the output of those outcomes & putting that player in a position to do the types of things that they do best with those scenarios the most amount of time.

Around those primary players, understanding that not every player can be elite... you are asking your role players to maximize the efficiency of the output of their scenarios by focusing on only shooting from high % outcome areas & by targeting players that can be flawed as long as they have one average-to above average skill.

This effectively allows your role players, who are flawed players on their own, to maximize the efficiency of their output and perform in a way from a numbers perspective that is indicative of a much more elite level of skill. For example, Dallas can take it's non-big role players and produce a cumulative 40% output from 3, which is elite efficiency, despite non-of those players being star players by any means.

This is the goal of the type of offense that the Wolves are trying to create & this is why it does really all come down to the Wolves ability to target & gather shooting to create a roster that much more closely resembles the role players that Houston & Dallas have gathered.

In addition to further game out the point about why it's important for the Wolves to prioritize shooting. It is important for the Wolves to prioritize shooting first & foremost in a big way because if you walk through the numbers it is really clearly apparent that most, if not all, of the difference in ultimate output between offenses like Houston & Dallas versus the Timberwolves. The difference between the two roster construction and ability of the secondary players outside of the core players for each team to efficiently space the floor accounts for basically all of the difference in point totals if you normalize the Wolves to Houston or Dallas levels in terms of the efficiency of spacing the floor from it's secondary players.

In fact, if that exercise is performed the Wolves offense actually produces more points on average than both Houston & Dallas because of the fact that the Wolves #1 option is the most efficient scorer on either of the 3 teams & the core 3 of the Wolves is by far the most efficient in terms of spacing the floor. This means that if the Wolves role players can match the efficiency of Dallas or Houston, the Wolves offense will actually produce at a higher level than either of the two teams.

Lastly, on this topic I think it's important to call out that an additional important reason to prioritize shooting right away & in this draft is because while this post has explained a possible path for the Wolves to become as good of an offense as any in the league... it is important to call out that their roster is not without limitations. That is, the Wolves core has inherent defensive limitations that at least to some degree (we can debate on how much) limit the Wolves ceiling on the defensive side of the floor.

The Wolves do not have a choice, but to rely on defensively flawed players in primary & core ways in their defensive scheme--it is unclear how much adding above-average defensive players around the Wolves core can actually solve the Wolves defensive issues if the core issues are still present. In addition, will the impact of those contributions defensively alongside a likely trade-off in terms of optimizing offensive efficiency be truly more of a positive impact than a negative? I don't think the answer to that question is very obvious.

In addition, if the Wolves were to pursue a path of doing everything they can to maximize whatever ceiling they have on the defensive side... how much of an impact could any moves that the Wolves make really improve their defensive ranking? Do I think it is possible for the Wolves, anchored by D Lo & Towns, to be a top 10-15 defensive team with all of the right pieces around them? Yes, I do. Do I think that comes with trade-offs in terms of offensive output & a path of way too many non-shooting rotation players...I think that as well.

Looking around the league & being realistic at the Wolves limitations, I think you can try & look for other team constructions or systems that can create success.

-There are teams like the Bucks & Lakers that are top 10 in both offensive & defensive efficiency...it's clear that this type of model would work. Is it a realistic model for the Wolves? Probably not.

-There are teams like the Raptors that rank #2 in defensive efficiency & are just outside of the top 10 in offensive efficiency. This model doesn't fit the Wolves either.

-There is another model of success that has clearly emerged, this is the model from the Rockets, Mavs, & to a lesser degree the Heat. This model combines high-volume/high-efficiency floor spacing with elite offensive efficiency & average to below average defensive efficiency. The Rockets & Mavs rank #1&2 in offensive rating & #16&17 in defensive rating (Heat are #7 & 14 respectively). That is a model that the Wolves can much more clearly replicate in a way that makes sense.



I have a lot of faith in Layman and Martin, because they both fit really well in 1-3-1 scheme.

I agree with you here as well, though I am not sure that the fact that they are on their roster would dissuade me from targeting additional floor spacing wings.

I think Martin has the chance to be a really interesting player in this scheme if the Wolves can figure out a way to develop him. The development of some of these internal players is the biggest x factor when trying to project out the Wolves ceiling. Martin actually has a body type similar to PJ Tucker or Draymond Green at 6'5 or 6'6 with a 7'3 wingspan and weighing 230 pounds. If Martin develops into a player who can play the 2-4 & even some small ball 5 while shooting at an average or above average level from the perimeter... that would be huge. I hope he develops.





3) I agree that Vassell looks like an ideal fit here at SF. I also like Avdija versatility. However, given our situation with a lot more time for draft preparation both for NBA organizations and players I see why the draft stock may change a lot. I do believe that we trade our FRP, if after 7 months of draft preparation no one from draft prospects impresses Rosas and Co. I think that problem playing of Culver or Okogie is that they both are bad shooters AND bad finishers at the rim. This combination of weaknesses really hurts our offense. Look at Westbrook, he is a bad shooter, and he is an average finisher at the rim, he does not even have advanced dribbling nor moves, but he is an elite athlete, so HOU has opened the court for him and he is having an excellent season. He is a factor. Why I see Aaron Gordon as an excellent fit both financially and skills-wise. He is an elite athlete who NEVER played in modern offense with solid shooters and playmakers around. If we open court for him we will do wonders for us. There are few players who can stop him in space because he is too strong, too athletic, too quick, too mobile. How many dunks had a rookie Culver this season? Imagine how many dunks will have Gordon here. We might not be the best shooting team in the NBA, but we really might have a chance to become the best pace-and-space team.


Quick responses:

Vassell

Vassell is an ideal fit partially because he projects to both be able to execute efficiently on offense in this scheme in a role offensively & also helps improve the Wolves defensive issues on the perimeter with his length, athleticism, and defensive energy. I am not sure that there is a player in this draft that could make more of a positive impact in terms of giving the Wolves high-impact minutes with a skillset that fits in an ideal way into the types of players that the Wolves need to help maximize their offense. There may be other players in a vacuum that are better players individually, but Vassell would create more value in the Wolves rotation than any other player in this draft.

Avidija

I don't like Avdija. I don't like players that are supposed to be shooters with absolutely awful FT%'s. Avidija seems to be a guy who has been marketed as a shooter despite never showing the ability to consistently be an above-average shooter.

Okogie & Culver

I agree with you that the Wolves are hurt by playing too many non-shooters. I do want to flesh out this point a little bit because I think there is some nuance that is important to pull out here.

Okogie is an awful 3 point shooter, but he actually scores at a league-average efficiency despite his shooting issues which is relatively impressive. Okogie is able to generate offensive value by getting to the free throw line at an extremely high rate during the minutes he plays. Okogie on a per minute basis, is actually among the league leaders in FT rate. In addition, he hits his free throws at an above average level. Okogie is an 80% free throw shooter. So despite shooting limitations, Okogie has at least developed one skill that can allow him to contribute positively consistently. In addition, despite some struggles to finish at the rim especially when trying to create his own offense (evidenced by many wild flailing Okogie possessions), he is actually decently efficient from the 2 PT range at 53%. This is likely because Okogie has also shown that he is a really willing receiver in transition & can generate easy buckets through that energy expenditure. In addition, Okogie creates offense from his defense by generating turnovers leading to easy-buckets on the other end.

Okogie developing a few of these ways to make a positive impact offensively despite his lack of shooting should actually be viewed as a positive. Okogie is a league average efficiency offensive player despite being one of the worst 3 point shooting perimeter players in the league at this point in his career. If Okogie can even develop a 3 PT shot in the low .30s he will actually be an above average efficiency offensive producer. I think it is a lot more realistic to be optimistic for that type of projection given Okogie's age (21) & FT% (80%).

These traits combined with the fact that Okogie is likely the Wolves best & most disruptive perimeter defender actually lends me to believe that Okogie will likely be a long-term piece. I don't think it is fair to group Culver & Okogie together directly.

Culver is much worse from an efficiency standpoint & is near the league bottom in offensive efficiency, free throw percentage, doesn't space the floor. In addition, Culver isn't really an athlete to make an impact in transition or without the ball in his hands. Okogie's skillset translates much better as role player. I do not have much hope for Culver at this point.

Though, if Okogie cannot develop his shot a little bit more it will be difficult to have any other non-shooting perimeter players going forward.

Gordon

Gordon would be a huge mistake for the Wolves. Gordon the actual player, is not really the player many envision him to be based on dunk contests & athletic potential. Offensively he's not really a powerful player & is much more of a finesse perimeter player that isn't particular efficient in any skill offensively. I don't think Westbrook & Gordon are comparables at all, though I suppose I see your idea. Westbrook plays much more explosively, and while he may have some limitations in his handle, is many magnitudes better of a ball handler & much quicker & more powerful than Gordon--at least in terms of the way they play on the court.

I'm not sure that it makes sense to give up assets to trade for Gordon who is getting paid 20m a year to be a player who is average to below average on both sides of the ball. I don't think it makes sense to design any offensive sets around him & I don't think Aaron Gordon led possessions lead to an efficient outcome offensively. In addition, Gordon is not really the impact defensive player than many envision. He isn't bad, but he really doesn't move the needle.

Trading for Gordon would severely limit the Wolves roster flexibility & isn't an ideal roster fit... though I would love him as a rotation player for say $10m.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#12 » by minimus » Tue Jun 9, 2020 12:16 pm

TheZachAttack, thank you for trying to create a dialog despite my awful English!

* - I agree with you that shooting from 3pt line on high level is the most important axis of our offense. There is no doubt about it. However, my point is not oversimplify our offensive model only to this. It might all starts with having 3-4 elite 3pt shooters, but it does not end here. For me it is a key, that opens many other things for us, it is a big opportunity that creates a many of other opportunities. You put here great examples of HOU development. I'd add GSW example, when Curry and Klay shooting along with Dray Green passing AND defense allowed GSW to implement short rolls, allowed them to play bad shooters such as Livingston, Iggy. The question is how we use our 3pt shooting to be a better team. Add more shooters? Add quality defenders? Try to add 3&D? Keep in mind that our system might be beneficial for an average shooter. See James Johnson example

* - passing and decision making are underrated. Because when you build around elite shooters, you need elite passers. That is why Johnson, McLaughlin, DLo are much better fit than Wiggins, Teague, Napier, Dieng. Currently we dont have mediocre ballhandlers or passers who stop ball movement. That is huge, huge improvement

* - I can see why in your opinion Gordon is a bad fit. He is not a 3&D you want, he is not a traditional PF nor Greek Freak nor AD type of athlete. But. First, his contract is not 20mil. It is 18mil and 16mil. Name another available players on the market who fit our need at 4? It is all about price. If it is JJ, Culver and BRO pick, it is a fair price. If it is our FRP, I'd ask ORL pick in return. Second, in your vision rebounding, passing, defending in space, rim running are valued less. But I believe Gordon fits here perfectly because he might add that third wheel both in defense and offense to make whole system work. When is needed he can pass, when we need he can rebound, when we need he can run in fastbreak, when we need he can defend in post or on perimeter. Third, his athletic abilities are seriously underrated. Back in 2014, Aaron Gordon put up impressive athletic numbers, leading all prospects with a 2.76 time in the “shuttle run” drill. He is made for pace-and-space system. He is made to play with KAT.

* - you are talking mostly about regular season. I'm 100% sure, that our opponents would easily shut down KAT-Juancho-Vassell-Beasley-DLo lineup. In regular season no one really have time to prepared for an opponent. But once our opponent can adjust their defense scheme, our lineup that lacks balance will struggle to score. We might mitigate this with better execution, chemistry etc, but we still need an additional dynamic shot creator to make whole system built around shooters work.

* - defense and offense are connected. better our defense is better opportunites it creates for offense, for instance fast breaks after steal when defense is not set, or outlet passes after strong rebounding effort in defense. as you stated Okogie is a bad shooter, but is able to contribute as his elite FTr suggests. Plus he is an excellent rebounder for a wing. Yes, I agree Culver shot is completely broken and from his recent videos I dont see any significant improvements. But if his shot was not broken, Culver could have been all star material. His is a true all-around player who fit perfectly in our system


Bear with me, it is difficult for me to follow all your thoughts. to sum up I think we need to address following needs before 2020/21 season starts:

1) find starting PF, because of our roster structure (two offensive minded centers KAT/Reid, below average defenders at starting SG/PG positions Beasley/DLo) it should athletic, versatile defender who can pass and rebound, run in transition and occasionally hit open threes
2) find a third dynamic playmaker/ballhandler
3) find a 3&D guy
4) find a rim runner

It is easy to see that Aaron Gordon can answer 1,2 and 4. That is why I am advocating for him. As for 3&D guy, I see several guys who we might get in order of potential and fit:

* - Mikal Bridges. RoCo lite, excellent, long defender, a true 3&D material
* - Vassell. Lack an ideal size to defend big SF/PF, otherwise an excellent 3&D prospect
* - Glenn Robinson III. Athletic, solid defender, good 3pt shooter. Might be cheap
* - Jar Crowder. A veteran, strong, experienced. Streaky from 3pt. Will seeks his last big contract in NBA
* - Saddiq Bey. Long, smart defender, a bit slow, average athlete

As for ballhandlers:

* - Jordan McLaughlin. We MUST re-sign him to team friendly contract. He is a perfect backup PG.
* - Tyrese Maxey. This guy is a winner. Clutch, skilled comboguard
* - Kira Lewis. Lightning quick PG

I also can see us going in completely different direction, which is probably what you suggest as well. Instead of first shape our roster with defender, add even more shooters, trade for Buddy Hield, Devin Booker, Joe Harris. Then add defensive minded players.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#13 » by ClarkeW » Tue Jun 9, 2020 1:47 pm

Just wanted to jump in and say great post! Appreciate all the thought and work you put into this.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#14 » by Jedzz » Tue Jun 9, 2020 11:19 pm

I can't in good faith have a discussion about best shooting team where we have Okogie and Culver in defacto starting or major roles in the discussion and then later talk about how good of shooters the "scrubs" are that may or may not have any minutes on this team. Something needs to be corrected before it can be the best shooting team and that's how they reward players that can or can't shoot here with minutes.

I can't wait to see a stretch of 10 straight games where Towns, Beasley and Dlo all play each game. Might finally get the team into competitive range. After that happens then we should revisit the question. If someone was to assure me that McLaughlin was going to get all the backup point minutes and some filler along with Dlo minutes, then I might start projecting how good they could be. But it doesn't seem like anyone is ever going to be willing to discuss a player on the merits of his play instead of where he was or wasn't drafted, and the team may not either. How many Michael Jordan types really have existed since the 80's but were never allowed to play into major roles on teams? Just sad. Can't be a great shooting team until you play all your best shooters the most. Until that day happens, I can't include the Wolves. Liked reading some of that long post though. Appreciate the efforts and opinions and belief you still have in a few of these players. Hope they get involved and get something going. (a year from now)
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#15 » by KGdaBom » Wed Jun 10, 2020 4:06 pm

Tankathon has Vassell at pick 11 right now and Nesmith at 14. Not out of the question that one of them falls to our likely 16th pick from Brooklyn.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#16 » by TheZachAttack » Wed Jun 10, 2020 4:48 pm

Jedzz wrote:I can't in good faith have a discussion about best shooting team where we have Okogie and Culver in defacto starting or major roles in the discussion and then later talk about how good of shooters the "scrubs" are that may or may not have any minutes on this team. Something needs to be corrected before it can be the best shooting team and that's how they reward players that can or can't shoot here with minutes.

I can't wait to see a stretch of 10 straight games where Towns, Beasley and Dlo all play each game. Might finally get the team into competitive range. After that happens then we should revisit the question. If someone was to assure me that McLaughlin was going to get all the backup point minutes and some filler along with Dlo minutes, then I might start projecting how good they could be. But it doesn't seem like anyone is ever going to be willing to discuss a player on the merits of his play instead of where he was or wasn't drafted, and the team may not either. How many Michael Jordan types really have existed since the 80's but were never allowed to play into major roles on teams? Just sad. Can't be a great shooting team until you play all your best shooters the most. Until that day happens, I can't include the Wolves. I liked reading some of that long post though. Appreciate the efforts and opinions and beliefs you still have in a few of these players. Hope they get involved and get something going. (a year from now)


Thanks, I agree with your response. The Wolves have built an offensive core that is as good of a shooting group as really any other major-core in the NBA. The Wolves support cast is far-worse as a group in terms of shooting compared to other elite shooting teams. They have a chance to be as good as any group out there but will have to prioritize shooting this offseason in the draft & also reward their best shooters on the current roster with more playing time--like McLaughlin as you've suggested.

I hope organizationally the Wolves make shooting a must in the players they require on the roster, even if those players have question-marks elsewhere. We will see if the Wolves front-office sees things the way that I do and hey after-all what do I know... I'm just some guy with a keyboard.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#17 » by Jedzz » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:15 am

TheZachAttack wrote:
Thanks, I agree with your response. The Wolves have built an offensive core that is as good of a shooting group as really any other major-core in the NBA. The Wolves support cast is far-worse as a group in terms of shooting compared to other elite shooting teams. They have a chance to be as good as any group out there but will have to prioritize shooting this offseason in the draft & also reward their best shooters on the current roster with more playing time--like McLaughlin as you've suggested.

I hope organizationally the Wolves make shooting a must in the players they require on the roster, even if those players have question-marks elsewhere. We will see if the Wolves front-office sees things the way that I do and hey after-all what do I know... I'm just some guy with a keyboard.


Agreed. Same.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#18 » by Killboard » Wed Jul 8, 2020 11:53 pm

It's a great post and I certainly agree with most of the analysis. What likes me most about making the 3 the engine is that refs can't screw you when the shot is in the air. Is not a problem in certain games well referred, but in those who the refs play a role, having one side of the game virtually ref proof helps a lot. Obviously variance is the problem but it should even up long term.

A thing I disagree though is trade Culver to move up 4-5 spots. I could see the Wolves trading him or Okogie because they can't really play together at this point, but I should wait a little longer for his shot to come around or accept a better offer.
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#19 » by thinktank » Thu Jul 9, 2020 12:14 am

KGdaBom wrote:Tankathon has Vassell at pick 11 right now and Nesmith at 14. Not out of the question that one of them falls to our likely 16th pick from Brooklyn.


If you are basing your statement on tankathon's rankings, then I would say that it is unlikely you would get either of them at #16. I.e. tankathon is saying you are likely wrong, because neither of them are ranked at #16 or below!
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Re: Are the Timberwolves the best shooting team in the NBA? 

Post#20 » by vtime » Thu Jul 9, 2020 12:50 am

We definitely have 20,000 shooting guards. Is the plan to package a few for a Star level power forward?

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