The Timberwolves have been encouraged by their play at the midway point of the season, but they know they still have a long way to go to achieve their goal of making the playoffs, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. The team generally gets along well, which is important because chemistry has been in short supply in Minnesota for many years, Krawczynski notes.
Another major change is the defense has improved dramatically to this point, ranking 11th in the league entering Thursday’s game against Memphis. The last time the Timberwolves had a defensive rating better than 21st was 2013/14, when they ranked 12th. A major contributor to the team’s aggressive defense has been forward Jarred Vanderbilt.
“I think a couple of games we tried to change it up and go dropping, but we realized we’re just a better team when we’re aggressive and getting into the ball, being in the gaps, flying around and just making multiple efforts,” Vanderbilt said. “I think that was the biggest change for us.”
Minnesota is expected to be a buyer at the trade deadline, sources tell Krawczynski. The Wolves remain interested in Ben Simmons, but the Sixers haven’t shown any interest in Minnesota’s offers to this point. Myles Turner has been floated as a possibility, but Vanderbilt’s emergence has dampened that notion. Krawczynki believes the team should be targeting size off the bench and more three-point shooting.
Here’s more from Minnesota:
- The Timberwolves have hired Marquise Watts to become their new chief experience officer, the team announced. Watts previously worked at Under Armour, Adidas, and Klutch Sports Group. Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic explore why Watt’s hiring is a significant move, noting that it’s the first major hire under new owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who are determined to change the perception of the franchise.
- Aaron Gleeman and John Hollinger of The Athletic explore how good the Wolves can be this season and what trades they should target ahead of the deadline, among other topics. Hollinger believes Jerami Grant or Harrison Barnes could fit nicely in Minnesota if Simmons is unattainable.
- Guard Jaylen Nowell recently suffered an ankle injury, but participated in shootaround Thursday. Coach Chris Finch said the injury doesn’t appear as serious as the Wolves originally thought, and while Nowell missed Thursday’s game against Memphis, Finch is hopeful he could return Sunday against Golden State, tweets Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.