Early season struggles becoming very concerning, should we be worried?
After the most recent loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Timberwolves sit at .500 record of 4-4 with some really bad losses and really good wins. But even with some of those wins flagged some concerns with this team going forward. So I for one do not harp on early season struggles but it appears a lot of Wolves fans and media are in a frenzy about the Wolves slow start. Truly we cannot be bashing our heads on the wall too much, for instance the Wolves are not the only solid team to be struggling. Look at the Warriors, Heat and Clippers.
With that being said, what is really going on with this team? Were we just over hyping them and they just aren't a good team? Or is just early year struggles and trying to figure things out with this seemingly new roster. From my vantage point, this is what I have noticed what the Wolves are doing wrong.
D'Angelo Russell has looked awful - body language wise
To start the season, D'Angelo Russell looked as if he was taking a huge step forward. Multiple 20 point games and his energy level on both ends impacted the team on a great level. However, over the last 4 games he is only averaging 9.5 points and shooting incredibly poor (his defense has been really hit or miss).
You could say "Well he's just in a slump, he's going to figure it out" and you would be absolutely correct. But the bigger picture here is how lackadaisical Russell has looked out there. He doesn't nearly do what was working for him in the first 4 games of the season, meaning come off the pick and roll screens with Rudy Gobert and hit those ball fake layups or wide open mid range shots (in which he currently sits in the top 10 in FG%). When Russell looks like he's going through the motions, not being aggressive, he is gonna have a really bad game. But like I said, it's early. We will see if he is able to break out of the funk.
Ant has looked good....or his stats have at least. He's still doing something wrong.
Over the last 4 games, Anthony Edwards is averaging 26 points and shooting the ball extremely well. So why would I be saying there is something that Edwards is doing that is causing the Wolves to slump? Well to put it bluntly, Ant is kind of an offense killer. There is very to little ball movement when he touches the ball, resulting in some very questionable offensive sets.
Let's put it this way, the first 4 games of the season, Ant had a pretty good Passing Percentage of 32.1% (how often he is passing the ball throughout games), over the last 4? That number dropped to 19.4%, the 2nd lowest on the team only beating out Jaylen Nowell (18.8%). About 47.7% of Ant's shots have come in isolation sets, which is a clear indicator he's not moving the ball or Finch is not forcing him to move the ball.
Wolves are trying way too hard to make Rudy Gobert a core part of the offense
Rudy Gobert is easily the most impactful player on the Wolves defensively and on the glass. That's a given. However, his offensive impact has been really hit or miss. When he's grabbing offensive boards, he's doing well. When he's not, he's ineffective. One thing the Wolves are trying to do is force feed him the ball in the post in crucial times and they really don't need to. For example, there was a time where the Wolves were gaining momentum in the 4th in tonight's game against the Suns and Karl-Anthony Towns threw a turnover by trying to force feed Gobert in the post.
The Rudy Gobert and D'Angelo Russell pairing has been hit and miss as well. It worked out a good part of the first 4 games, it hasn't nearly been as effective the last 4.
Naz Ŕeid needs to be the Sixth Man
Naz Reid. Say the name. For the limited time he has playing, he has been balling. But again, he's only been playing a limited time. He needs more time. Finch needs to make him the Sixth Man of the team.
Depth has been highly inconsistent
The Wolves signed players like Bryn Forbes, Kyle Anderson, and Austin Rivers this offseason to replace the depth left behind by Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley. Those 3 so far has been very lackluster. The Wolves have missed Anderson and Jordan McLaughlin a few games and the rotations that Chris Finch have had has been pretty bad.