One of the main takeaways from the Timberwolves's season post All-Star break is that the starting unit can absolutely light it up on the scoreboard, which has even been noticed by NBA columnist Zach Lowe in his most recent piece. The current starting 5 for the Wolves have been scoring at a rate of almost 117 points per 100 possessions, which would be good to lead the league over the course of the season.
However, the other aspect of this, which has also been well-documented here and on other Timberwolves sites, is that this has come at an extreme cost on the defensive end. This shift towards more offense-oriented Basketball has come after Kevin Garnett has been basically shut-down for the year and Tayshaun Prince was permanently removed from the starting line-up.
This issue is further exacerbated by the fact that the Timberwolves have some of the worst defenders in the league using DRPM as a baseline assessment. The defensive struggles have been chalked up to youth and a lack understanding in defensive rotations, as well as an issue of strength across the board as Wiggins, LaVine, and Towns usually do not have the body strength to match-up with the stronger players at their respective positions.
These problems will likely not be solved next year. It would be great to see a massive jump team-wide in defensive ability but this is unlikely to happen, especially if the Wolves bring aboard another young rookie who will have to adjust to the NBA alongside a team that is almost completely comprised of 2nd to 4th year NBA players.
The proposed solution to this problem is to bring in some defensive-oriented free agents this offseason who will be able to shore up the Timberwolves young core and allow them to play a more balanced style of basketball. However, it might also be beneficial in the short-term to be cognizant of where the team is succeeding and aim to build upon those successes rather than try to add dimensions to the team that won't really be possible for the next few years.
This would primarily mean embracing the offensive-oriented starting five that the Timberwolves have and shifting completely towards an up-tempo style of play that really allows Ricky Rubio and the athletic wings Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins to flourish. While we have seen the Wolves also struggle on offense a few times during this post All-Star break period, players like LaVine and Dieng have really only been working in their current roles for a couple of months and increased time playing together could help mitigate these potential difficulties.
If the Wolves decided to forgo the defensive shift and instead focus on their current strengths, we could see them employing the strategies of those famed Suns teams lead by Steve Nash or even something like the Denver Nuggets when they were coached by George Karl.
It's unlikely that the Wolves will be anything close to defensively competent next year, we just have too many young players and the roster is still chock-full of bad defenders, several of whom are integral pieces to the Wolves' rebuilding plan. It may behoove the team in the short term to focus on building on their strengths rather than trying to shoehorn a defensive identity where it may not be possible.
This Week in...Things that are Great!
What does it feel like to stand here?
This is the basic premise of what is likely the best article that I have read on artificial intelligence and its probable impact on the future of humanity, as well as the timeline of the coming advancement. The piece is written by Tim Urban of waitbutwhy.com, and you can find part one of the two part series here. As a forewarning, the article is extremely long, but it is well worth the time and energy to learn about what could be the most important technological revolution in human history.
I'm not going to go into too much detail on what is covered within the article, as I would do a poor job trying to recap and explain what is put so eloquently and informatively by Tim Urban, but the primary focus is on what creating Artificial Superintelligence could mean for humankind and how we might be getting there faster than we think, which could have disastrous consequences. The website, Wait But Why, has a bunch of other great content and they do an amazing job at highlighting complex science and philosophy topics in a accessible manner.