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Timberwolves’ Desperation Zone

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The Wolves have occasionally gone to a zone defense this season, a rarity in the NBA. What has it looked like?

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Zone defenses have almost become extinct in the NBA for a variety of reasons including supremely talented athletes who possess a high degree of skill, larger courts than in college and the introduction of the three-second rule in 2001.

Therefore, it’s unsurprising only seven teams have run a zone defense at any point this season and only one team has run it more than 100 times according to Synergy Sports. The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of those seven teams and have employed it on 12 possessions so far, ranking fourth with 1.0 points per .possession

For the most part, Tom Thibodeau calls this arrangement when the Wolves are down late in the game and in desperate need of a turnover. Let’s take a look at the type of zone they utilize and how it’s worked so far this season:

In most of these situations, the Wolves are trying to trap their opponents in the corner to force a quick turnover and regain possession of the basketball. Although they haven’t been successful at getting the ball back, they’ve had some encouraging possessions that could find success if they iron out some of their kinks.

Ed. Note: Please Welcome Brian Sampson to Canis Hoopus. Brian has been writing about the Wolves and producing terrific videos and now will be bringing his terrific analytical eye to Canis. We are extremely happy to have him. You can follow him on twitter @BrianSampsonNBA.