Why They Lost

Category In Wins In Losses % Difference
FG% 48.1 44.1 -8%
FGA 84.6 82.3 -2.7%
FGM 40.7 36.3 -10.8%

3P%

38.8 33.5 -13.7%
3PM 5.8 5.2 -10.3%
3PA 14.9 15.4 +3.2%
EFG 51.5 47.3 -8.2%
FTM 19.3 13.7 -29%
FTA 25.1 18.9 -24.7%
OREB 12.1 11.3 -12.4%
TREB 44.9 40.1 -10.7%
AST 21.9 19.1 -12.8%
TO 12.2 14.7 +17%
BLK 3.6 3.7 +2.7%
PTS 106.5 91.3 -14.3%
POSS 93.94 93.26 -0.1%

NOTE: Stats are through 80 games.  I left out the last 2 games to allow for even stat keeping, prohibit garbage time in the last 2 games, and to cut the season into 4 even 20 game blocks. 

Top 3 problem areas (largest loss differentials excluding points):

  1. FTM (-29%)
  2. FTA (-24.7%)
  3. TO (+17%)

Insignificant differences:

  1. Poss/Pace (0.7%)
  2. Blocks (+2.7%)
  3. 3PA (+3.2)
  4. FGA (-2.7)

Secondary problem areas:

  1. eFG% (-8.2%)
  2. OREB (-12.8%)

Overall, the Wolves' biggest, most glaring issue in their losses is free throw shooting, and it's not even close.  The Timberwolves are the worst free throw shooting team in the league; averaging 0.9 fewer FTM/game than the 28th place team (7.9 fewer than 1st) and 6.6 fewer than their combined opponenets. To put it quite simply, when the Wolves shoot well at the line, they are a functional and competitive team.  In their wins, they averaged 25.1 FTA and 19.3 FTM.  If these numbers were their season averages, they would be the 11th best free throw shooting team in the league with roughly a -1.7 point differential compared to their current -6.6 deficit.  For a team with a -7 point differential, there is no single bigger way they can improve their game.  It's that cut and dry. 

Four Factors:

  1. eFG% (-8.2%)
  2. FTM/A (-29%/-24.7%)
  3. TO (+17%)
  4. OREB (-12.4%)

Surprisingly, pace and FGA have very little to do with whether or not the Wolves win games.  The Wovles have a nearly equal amount of shots and possessions in their wins and losses.  Their eFG is affected equally by 3 pointers and 2 point field goals (-10.3/-10.8% respectively).  In other words: it's all about whether or not they make their shots. Simple and cliched? Yes.  True? Si. Turnovers and offensive rebounds are self-explanatory. 

Cutting to the chase, the Wolves lose because they are an inconsistent shooting ball club that turns the ball over while racking up a massive free throw discrepancy.  When they lose, they average 4.4 fewer FGM/game, 0.6 fewer 3pm/game,  5.6 fewer FTM/game, and 1.6 OREB/game while committing 2.5 more turnovers/contest.  All in all, this works out to nearly 5 lost possessions/game (including the disparity in FTA) and 10.6 ppg. 

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