8 Thoughts on the Timberwolves 1st Preseason Win

It is only preseason, but a win always feels better than a loss. The Mavericks starters largely outplayed the Timberwolves starters thanks to some hot shooting from the 3pt. line and lingering lack of chemistry within the Wolves offense and defense, but there were still many positives to take from the comeback win.

 

 

  1. Franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns looks like he is rounding into shape. Offensively Towns looked like his dynamic self by scoring 20 points on 14 shots in only 27 minutes. He also pulled down 7 rebounds and dished 3 assists. The offense looks better when it is run through him, and he looks more and more comfortable every game. His continued dominance on that end of the court will be key to this team winning.
  2. The 3pt. defense needs to be tightened up. The Wolves were burned by a below-average 3pt. shooting team when they played the Grizzlies, and now they ran up against one of the best shooting teams in the league. Predictably the Mavericks shot 20–44 from the 3pt line. Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. feasted off of open attempts. Some extra reps and chemistry on defense will help the rotations to defend the arc, but they need to get better defending the 3pt. shot very quickly.
  3. Anthony Edwards, #1 Overall Pick. The 19 year old rookie improved incrementally from game 1 to game 2, but he made his biggest leap yet in game 3. On offense Edwards looked far more comfortable playing off of his teammates and distributing off dribble. Defensively he flashed incredible strength and quickness guarding Luka Doncic on the ball. He is improving right in front of our eyes, and it is a joy to watch.
  4. Jarrett Culver was the Wolves most consistent performer through all 3 games. His positive showing on offense and defense in game 1 seemed like it may be an aberration, but he has replicated those performances through the final two games to provide real hope that he has turned a corner as a positive two-way wing. His improvement would be an unexpected boost for a team lacking in two-way potential.
  5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson still did not get 1st half minutes. After his game 2 scoring outburst, Wolves fans thought he may start at power forward or backup Towns at center. Naz Reid ended up as the backup center and the power forward rotation stayed the same with Layman and Juancho. He is clearly a needed energy boost off the bench, but it is hard to see what his role will be leading into the season.
  6. Towns may finally be committed to defensive improvement. After the game Towns spoke about defense being the key to this team winning games, and gave examples for how he specifically can improve. On the court he has had mixed results on defense so far, but his communication, energy, and rebounding seems better than he showed last season. The key will be communication with his perimeter teammates to better stop penetration. Improvement there will help this team tremendously.
  7. Winning is fun! Yes, it’s just preseason and this one does not count, but watching the reserve players (including Edwards and Culver for a long stretch in the 4th quarter) erase a 15pt deficit was a lot of fun. After a few preseason games, one thing is clear. The Wolves deep bench players such as Nowell, Reid, and Vanderbilt can be much better than their counterparts on other teams. In a COVID season, that could prove very valuable.
  8. Let’s play real games. Whether the Wolves are ready for it or not, they will play a regular season game against the Pistons on Dec. 23rd. It will be important to start the season positively with a tough schedule coming up after their opener. The practices leading up to the game need to prioritize offensive chemistry and defensive intensity to help the Wolves get off to a strong start.
 

-Jerry W.