Are Minnesota Timberwolves Playing Down to Level of Their Opponent?

JJ Barea

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

One of my big complaints of this early season for the Minnestoa Timberwolves is that they seem to be playing to the level of their opponents. A 7-5 record after their most recent loss to the now 3-8 Washington Wizards has me concerned about the make-up of this team. After a near-decade of losing, are the Wolves the kind of team that can afford to get confident in their abilities?

Scoring is clearly going to be the biggest factor in this team’s success and failures. In their seven wins they are shooting 45 percent, 40 percent from three, 82 percent FT, 25.6 assists and they score 112 points per game. In their five losses they shooting 40 percent from the field, a dramatically lower 29.3 percent from three, 77 percent FT, 22 assists and only score 101 points per game. Those are pretty rapidly different sets of teams showing up. One team has the ability to score on anyone, anywhere, anytime, and the other team is a pretty pedestrian offense that can’t keep up defensively. That would be fine if they were just losing to better teams.

A big problem with the Wolves is obviously their bench. When their elite starting unit comes out of the game they simply can’t keep up. Having a strong bench, in my opinion, is important to not letting up against inferior opponents. It’s highly plausible for an NBA star player to not get up for every single game, and when you have the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers on the way I don’t blame the starters too much for potentially overlooking the lowly Wizards. But those are the games where you need a bench player or two to step up and pick up the starters when they don’t have it.

Of their five losses only two of them have come to teams that are their equals or better in the Clippers and Golden State Warriors. The other three losses have come against the Denver Nuggets, Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nuggets might end up being an okay basketball team in the long-run, but the Cavs and Wizards are looking to be bottom dwellers this year.

I don’t expect the Wolves to continually keep overlooking these types of games, especially if they keep losing, but in the lonesome crowded Western Conference this type of game might come back to haunt them later in the season.

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