More than One Way to Lose

Or, What Hath the Changes of Kahn Wrought? 

This is the third season of the post-Kevin Garnett era for the Timberwolves, and we all know that many changes took place at the hands of new POBO David Kahn and new coach Kurt Rambis.  And yet the team is on pace to be even worse record-wise than either of the past 2 iterations.  While unlike many others, I don't think this step back (or non-step forward) is a good thing, my purpose here is to briefly examine what's different about this team than either of the past two versions from a statistical standpoint.

The first thing I want to point out is that Kahn promised us a running team, and he's delivered.  After two seasons as a middle of the pack pace team, this year's version is 3rd in the league in pace.  Despite speeding up, they aren't any worse in TO differential than they have been the past 2 years, and in fact they are on pace to do a little better in this area than in  2008-09, though a little worse than 2007-08.  They are turning it over more, but also forcing more TOs.  They are still a minus turnover team, as they have consistently been, but it hasn't gotten worse despite the increased pace and the heavy minutes played by a rookie point guard. 

The glaring change between this year's team and the previous teams, and the reason I'm writing this fanpost, is the change in 3 point shooting/defending and free throw attempts.  More or less we could accurately say this: in 2007-08 and 2008-09 they held their own at the 3 point line but got killed in FTAs, whereas this year they are close to holding their own in FTAs, but getting absolutely brutalized at the 3 point line.  To wit:



Team               3ptA/Gm         3ptM/gm         3pt%    FTA/Gm

T-Wolves         15.35               5.38                 35.0     20.65

Opponents       18.49               6.60                 35.7     27.63




Team               3ptA/Gm         3ptM/gm         3pt%    FTA/Gm

T-Wolves         18.78               6.62                 35.3     23.86

Opponents       17.31               6.56                 37.7     26.16




Team               3ptA/Gm         3ptM/gm         3pt%    FTA/Gm

T-Wolves         12.85               3.82                 29.7     23.61

Opponents       20.87               7.72                 37.0     24.51


They were not good at the 3 point line in 2007-08, but got hammered at the Free throw line.  They were about even at the 3 point line in 2008-09, but got beat at the Free throw line (actually, last year's team may have been better than we thought; their pythag record was better than their actual record, and they did some things at at least a league average level). 

This year's iteration is just a complete disaster at the 3 point line at both ends.  They have, however, fought the FTAs almost to a draw (and as an aside, could we stop complaining about the officials? Probably not). 

The 3 point line is almost comically bad.  They have given up the most attempts in the league, and yet still give up the 5th highest percentage.  On the other hand, they are 26th in attempts, and are 28th in percentage.  We knew coming into this season that perimeter shooting was going to be a problem.  My question is: why is this team so bad at defending the line?  Is it because they help inside too much?  Is it because they have no choice but to help inside because of the interior defensive mismatches?  Is it because they are poor at closing out?  At getting around screens? 

What say you?

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