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John Schuhmann

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New head coach Rick Adelman should be a big upgrade on the bench this season for the Timberwolves.
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StatsCube: Rebuilding again, nowhere to go but up for Wolves


Posted Dec 2 2011 2:22PM

To get ready for the 2011-12 season, NBA.com StatsCube breaks down the critical numbers for all 30 teams.

Since the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Kevin Garnett, their rebuilding process has been stuck in neutral. They've easily been the worst team in the league over the last four years, averaging less than 20 wins per season.

Once again, with a new coach (Rick Adelman) and two additional lottery picks (Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams) on the roster, the Wolves are looking to take a step forward. It's a long way from the bottom to the top, but there's only one direction this team can go.

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2010-11 Basics
Record: 17-65
Pace: 99.2 (1)
OffRtg: 101.1 (24)
DefRtg: 108.3 (27)
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

The Wolves have finished in the bottom 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency in each of the last five seasons (one which included 76 games of Garnett). And yes, they're the only team that has managed to be so bad.

Last season, the thing the Wolves did best is rebound their own misses, of which there were plenty, because they shot both quickly and poorly. They ranked second in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 29.6 percent of those abundant bricks.

And the Wolves converted their offensive rebounds well, scoring 1.22 second-chance points per offensive board, which was better than the league average of 1.20. In total, 16 percent of their points came after an offensive rebound, which was tops in the league.

All-Star Kevin Love led the NBA with 15.2 rpg and with 330 total offensive boards. The Wolves grabbed almost a third of their own misses when Love was on the floor, and more than a quarter of his points (25.2 percent) were second-chance points.

Tolliver helps in one department

On a team that loses 65 games, there are a lot of ugly plus-minus numbers. But the Wolves had one player who stood out from the rest when it came to how much the scoreboard moved when he was on the floor.

No other Timberwolf who played at least 750 minutes had a plus-minus mark better than minus-146. But Anthony Tolliver was just a minus-80 in 1,360 minutes, a respectable mark considering his team was outscored by 544 points over the course of the season.

Tolliver averaged less than seven points per game, but the Wolves weren't nearly as bad with him on the floor as they were when he was on the bench.

Timberwolves efficiency

Tolliver on-off MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
On floor 1362 98.0 102.2 106.1 -4.0 -80
Off floor 2594 99.8 100.6 109.5 -8.9 -464

Tolliver recorded 28 steals all season, but the biggest difference in his time on the floor and his time on the bench was the number of turnovers the Wolves forced. Their opponents committed 16.4 turnovers per 100 possessions with Tolliver in the game and just 13.5 with him on the bench.

Tolliver seemed to make a bigger difference on defense, but when he was on the floor with Love, the Wolves were a pretty good offensive team, scoring 109 points per 100 possessions. The two were a plus-49 in 372 minutes together.

So while the Wolves envision a talented frontcourt of Love and Williams growing together over the next few years, they shouldn't forget Tolliver, who makes good things happen when he's on the floor.

On the other end of the spectrum was Martell Webster, who had the second-highest on-court defensive efficiency mark in the league among players who logged at least 750 minutes. The Wolves allowed an atrocious 112.5 points per 100 possessions when Webster was on the floor. Only the Raptors' Andrea Bargnani had a worse on-court rating.

Wolves find a comfort zone

The Wolves ranked 27th in field goal percentage, but were pretty good from distance. They ranked 29th by making just 45.9 percent of their 2-point shots, but ranked fifth by hitting 37.6 percent of their threes.

And they were at their best from the corners. The Wolves ranked second in the league by hitting 46.2 percent of their corner threes. Tolliver took just 18 threes from the corner, but made 13 of them.

And Tolliver wasn't alone. Around the league, there were 19 players who took at least 15 threes from the corners and made more than half of them. Five of the 19 played for Minnesota.

Timberwolves shooting on corner 3-pointers

Player 3PM 3PA 3P%
Wes Johnson 28 71 39.4%
Martell Webster 25 47 53.2%
Luke Ridnour 23 43 53.5%
Corey Brewer 14 36 38.9%
Wayne Ellington 14 29 48.3%
Michael Beasley 8 23 34.8%
Anthony Tolliver 13 18 72.2%
Sebastian Telfair 10 17 58.8%
Kevin Love 9 17 52.9%
Other 6 24 25.0%
Adelman does defense, too

The Wolves made a serious upgrade on the bench by replacing Kurt Rambis with Rick Adelman, who ranks eighth among all NBA coaches with 945 wins and 15th (among those who have coached at least 100 games) with a 0.605 winning percentage. In his 19 full seasons as a coach, Adelman has been in the playoffs 15 times.

Rick Adelman, full seasons
Team Seasons Top-10 off. Top-10 def.
Houston 4 1 2
Sacramento 8 5 3
Golden State 2 0 0
Portland 5 3 4

Adelman is considered a great offensive mind, and he more than proved it last season when his Rockets ranked sixth in offensive efficiency, despite a lack of top-line talent.

But Adelman has had success on both ends of the floor. In his 19 full seasons, he's had a top-10 offensive team nine times and a top-10 defensive team nine times. Obviously, the Wolves can use help on both ends.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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