WARR contributor Josh Hicks offers his thoughts on the Chicago Bulls and the NBA
The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently going through a rough patch to start the season, sitting 13th in the Western Conference and seven games under the .500 mark (5-12) and having most recently lost five of their last six games.
However, don’t use the overall record as a staple to define the struggle of this young talented group.
A lot of games that were lost were relatively close, but they were also games that they should have won. The Timberwolves can look like the best team in the league in the first half, but struggle to keep that positive energy consistent throughout an entire game.
Andrew Wiggins has admitted that the team gets too cool and relax when they up by large margins in a game, which contributes to the evaporation of their third quarter leads. Their inside-out offensive game plan changes from running through big man Karl Anthony-Towns to a more perimeter style with Wiggins and Zach Lavine taking the leads.
But scoring the ball offensively is the least of the team’s concerns, as they are averaging over 100 points a game the last two months. The defense is what really needs to be tightened up. The Wolves have a 106 defensive efficiency rating, which is 23rd in the league.
With the acquisition of head coach and president of operations Tom Thibodeau, people believed that his aggressive defensive strategies would fit perfectly with the young Timberwolves roster. Thibs does have an impressive resume from his tenures as an assistant and head coach — defenses under his leadership finished in the top 10 statistically in 11 of the 12 years he has coached in the NBA.
The only team that did not finish in the top 10 was the 2014-15 Chicago Bulls, and they finished 11th in the league defensively.
However, it seems like the roster is still adjusting to the defensive intensity Thibodeau commands on every defensive possession throughout a 48-minute game. The only cures for these offensive and defensive elapses are simply using their young experience to transform it into discipline and leadership.
This young team has what it takes to advance to the next level, and they are not too far away from making that leap. The strong three-headed monster of rookie of the year winners Wiggins, Anthony-Towns and two-time slam dunk champion Lavine have taken the league by storm with all three averaging 20 or more points a game.
With the addition of rookie Kris Dunn and the renewed health of Minnesota mainstay Ricky Rubio, they have now created a stronger spark coming off the bench.
KAT has been making a case as arguably one of the best big men in the game, as Wiggins and Lavine have sparked conversation as one of the most aggressive and athletic back court duos in the league.
But these three 21-year-olds have to use the mistakes within the losing experiences along with their talents to learn, gain wisdom and apply the wisdom to increase individual growth and discipline within their roles of leadership if they want to lead their team to the playoffs this season.
Joshua M. Hicks is a sports writer and broadcaster and a recent graduate of Roosevelt University, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042