FanPost

What's Different?

The Wolves have clearly improved a lot relative to last year. We all know that swapping Rambis and Flynn for Adelman and Rubio made a big difference, but what shows up in the stats so far?


First of all, the Wolves are not shooting better than they were last year. Last year, their true shooting percentage (TS%) was 0.526. This year, it is 0.523. The good news for the Wolves is that shooting is down league-wide, so their ranking has gone up from 25th to 14th.

Turnovers are down as well, but not by that much. The Wolves have gone from 30th to 21st in turnovers, cutting them by about 0.5 per game (pace adjusted, as are all other per-game stats).

Assist per game are actually down, though their ranking is up from 28th to 27th. Steals are up a bit (22nd to 17th). Blocks are way down (12th to 28th). Rebounding is down a bit (7th to 11th).

Here's the big difference: their defensive rating (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) is down a whopping 10 points, moving them up from 27th to 13th in the league. According to some work I did last summer, a team wins two more games (over an 82-game season) for every point that its defensive rating goes down. This means that the improvement in defense accounts for about 20 more wins over a full season. By itself, what they've done on defense so far is the difference between terrible and average.

So as pretty as Rubio's work on offense has been, it's the defense (by pretty much everyone, with Adelman's guidance) that's making the big difference right now.

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