DON'T PANIC: The Wolves After 3 Games

The Wolves have started out 1-2.  They have a 20 point beating on their record already.   I thought it might be worthwhile to check out how they're doing against the rest of the league, and how they're doing overall.

The Wolves are 1-2, as mentioned.  But they're better off than the 76ers, Bobcats, Jazz, Clippers, and Rockets, who have yet to win.  All these teams are consensus picks to do better than the Wolves

The Wolves have a points per game differential of -3.3.  That's not good, but it's better than the 76ers, Bobcats, Jazz, Clippers, and Rockets.  Again, these teams are all consensus picks to do better than the Wolves.  It's also better than the -7.6 the Wolves posted after three games last years.  For those that care about advanced stats (for those that don't, feel free to go to the next paragraph), the Wolves have an expected pythagorean win total of 32 games, which is beyond what almost everyone is predicting.  Last year at this time that an expected total of 21 wins.

The Wolves have already lost by 20 points in a game.  The Jazz, Wizards, and Magic have all lost by more than 20 points this season.

The Wolves worst quarter of the season is 14 points.  I haven't tallied every single quarter for the other teams, but I know that even the Heat have a worse quarter than that already posted.

Now, some four factors stuff (again, feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you don't care about advanced numbers).  The Wolves are at a 97.5 in offensive rating.  That's bad (and worse than last year), but better than the Jazz, Magic, and Clippers.  But the Wolves are 11th in defensive rating.  They're second in offensive rebounding%.  They're twelfth in FT/FGA.  They're sixth in opponents effective field goal%.  They're sixth in defensive rebound%.

Now, the obvious counter to all this is simple:  This team stats are flukes.  The teams under-performing the Wolves are rusty or new, and once they shake of the rust or jell, they're going to be good, good, good.  So why not the Wolves?  Why assume that the team that dogged it in their third game in four nights was the real Wolves (incidentally, that's 3 in 4 at the fastest pace in the league), as opposed to the running, aggressive, fun team we saw in the other two games?

To me, the main thing is turnovers and shooting.  Turnovers:  The Wolves have committed a lot of them.  But one of the main rules of young players is that as that get more experienced, their percentage of turnovers drops.  Now imagine that Grizzlies game, just without 36 points on turnovers.  Let's say it was, say, 18 points?  Much more respectable, right?  And this will happen.  As the youngest team in the league gains more experience, and as a team with 10 new players learn to work together, that high number of turnovers WILL drop.

One thing I haven't seen much commenting on is the shooting.  Right now, the Wolves are shooting horrifically.  They're hitting 40% from the floor.  That's unsustainable.  And I don't mean unsustainable in the sense that if they do this they're going to be historically bad (though they would).  It's unsustainable in the sense that it's going to get better.  Kevin Love is shooting 11% worse than last year.  Tolliver, 5%.  Milicic, 25% (yes, 25%).  Three of our main returners from last year (Ellington, Love, Brewer) are shooting 3%, 4% and 34% worse from range, respectively (that 34% means yes, Corey hasn't put down a three yet this year).  Beasley has gone from 80% on free throws to 53%.  I could keep going into more advanced stats, but they all tell the same story; the Wolves are noticeably worse on offense.  So bad, in fact, there's no way to account for it except for being a fluke over three games. 

That's a good point for all teams to remember right now.  It's been 2-3 games, out of 82.  Some teams start slow, some hot.  It's how all sports are. This is, as Stop-N-Pop likes to say, small sample size theatre.  Which should be the main lesson from these three games.  In other words:



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