The Rockets Win Displayed the Timberwolves’ Biggest Issue
Despite pulling out of Toyota Center with a victory, the Wolves win didn’t happen blissfully. The Wolves trailed starting from the game’s outset, which was odd considering the relative infancy of the Rockets roster.
The Wolves were down by 20 early on at one point, and assistant coach Elston Turner didn’t mince words when he described the Wolves’ faults as an “effort issue. They [the Rockets] came ready to play…”
The young Rockets team exploded up and down the floor in the transition while the Wolves dragged themselves along, always behind the action. They gave up numerous lobs and offensive rebounds in the early goings, and it wasn’t until the second half that they started to take control of the game.
Rekindling that Fire
Schemes and game plan aside, the Wolves’ energy from last year’s team has been dearly missed. Jarred Vanderbilt, Patrick Beverley, and Malik Beasley brought intense energy. Vanderbilt always hustled for loose balls and boards, Beverley brought veteran leadership and defensive intensity, and Malik “Threesley” was a walking heat-check shooter that invigorated the crowd along with the team. For better or for worse, they’re no longer in Wolves uniforms, and it’s shown.
It’s not just something that can be seen on tape. Thanks to NBA Advanced Stats, the diminished energy levels can be seen in statistical form.
The Wolves recovered 2.9 offensive loose balls and 3.2 defensive loose balls last year. This year, those numbers are at just 1.5 and 2.1, respectively. They’re also contesting fewer shots. Last year they managed to get a hand up on 55.4% of opponent’s field goal attempts. That’s down to 52% this year.
Taking a charge is a surefire way to breathe life into a crowd and team. The Wolves drew a wonderful 0.61 charges per game last year. They’ve fallen off to 0.27 drawn this year.
The Last Word on the Timberwolves’ Biggest Issue
It’s difficult to gauge whether or not a scheme or game plan is appropriate if the players don’t give enough energy to see the pros and cons. Sitting at the nine seed and just a half-game out of the six seed in the West, look for the Wolves to wake up. Only then can the acquisitions of Rudy Gobert, Kyle Anderson, and company truly shine.