So a lot of trade rumors involving Karl-Anthony Towns have been floating around the land of the #AllEyesNorth hashtag on Twitter, and this got me thinking about the bigger problems with the franchise.
So I went to Basketball Reference looking for answers, and..well…
30th in three-point attempts per game AND in three-point attempt rate (percentage of overall shot attempts which are threes.)
Fourth in offensive rebound percentage but 24th in defensive rebound percentage.
My gods. Tom Thibodeau has Scott-Hollins Syndrome.
Worse still, a coach who built a reputation as a defensive “mastermind” has consistently presided over one of the worst defenses in basketball.
He is, in addition, one of the worst player-development coaches in the league; Andrew Wiggins didn’t get to be one of the three worst players in the league (he, Carmelo Anthony, and Harrison Barnes were the only three players in the NBA in 2017-18 to play 2,500 minutes or more and post a negative VORP) by himself. And KAT is way too naturally athletically gifted to be this trash on defense.
OK, Thibs WAS a defensive mastermind in Chicago; in his five years coaching there, the Bulls were 1st, 2nd, 6th, 2nd, and 11th in defensive rating.
But in Minnesota? 27th and 27th in his two years. No improvement that wasn’t simply a function of relative to league average.
You’d expect something, some positive sign that he was making an impact getting his players to commit on that side of the ball…nope. Just five guys on the floor at any given time who couldn’t guard my dead grandmother.
And, of course, Thibs is notoriously cantankerous; he was out in Chicago due in no small part to losing the locker room.
And as an executive? Well, he’s great if you’re Derrick Rose‘s agent…
Funny thing is, this team had so much natural talent and Jimmy Butler and Towns are that good that they won 47 games and made the playoffs anyway.
That win over the Nuggets on the last day of the season for a win-or-go-home outcome is going to bite the Wolves hard, because if they’d lost, it would’ve been so much easier to just oust Thibodeau and move on as a franchise.
Wolves fans will come to look at that win as a pyrrhic victory that slammed them into Mediocrity Hell just as the players they’d need to get on board beyond their rookie deals leave as restricted free agents or find themselves the result of Jeremy Lin-like poison pill shenanigans from teams betting on guys like Towns to evolve in the right system into guys worthy of that outsized final year of their second contract.
Minnesota made the playoffs for the first time since 2004, but the way this team is constructed and coached, with a coach in the throes of Scott-Hollins Syndrome, players who are in the worst case scenario for developing as basketball players, especially on defense, and with salary cap nightmares on the horizon as these guys seek extensions…
Tom Thibodeau is the NBA’s worst coach, and the Timberwolves are screwed.