Flip Saunders' Six Point Plan For Timberwolves Success
When Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders rejoined the franchise in May, he set out to create a permanent change in the culture surrounding the organization both on and off the court. On the court, the Wolves continued to improve as they have already ensured an increase in wins for the fourth consecutive season with 17 games to play. Off the court, you can find the same type of vision. Minnesota has created a membership program for its fans that includes not only tickets to home games at Target Center but also moments throughout the year that keep you involved with the team. That includes player meet-and-greets, special events, behind-the-scene looks and much more.
The Wolves want to make sure you Don’t Miss A Moment of the action—at Target Center and beyond. Here’s a look at Flip’s Six Point Plan for the Timberwolves organization moving forward.
It is our desire to give you, our fans, an understanding of the long-term vision for our team on and off the court. These are the core values and strategies that define our team—our players, coaches and front office. WE feel we have made progress toward becoming a playoff team, and will continue to build for long-term success. We value your membership with our team and want you to be informed of our goals and our ongoing process.
1. Team Philosophy/Culture
We are continually striving to establish a culture of sacrifice and trust. Our players need to sacrifice personal goals for the team success. We work daily to build trust so our players know that the organization has the best interest of the team foremost in mind. Through sacrifice and trust we will create a winning environment and make progress toward our ultimate goal—winning an NBA championship.
Progress This Year
- Commitment to culture comes from the top and Glen Taylor has demonstrated his commitment through player acquisitions and facility improvements.
- We will commence with a $100 million renovation of Target Center later this year. This renovation will enhance the game day experience for you, our loyal fans.
- A $20 million practice facility has begun. This state-of-the-art facility will provide our players to develop their skills year-round.
2. Player Development
- It is our goal to use the most productive methods available to teach and motivate our players to be the best that they can be. There has been may improvements in analytics in recent years, and we use these to help our players improve, thereby improving our chances of team success.
- Use of Analytics- By utilizing our arena Camera Tracking System, we can track every movement of a player on offense or defense—how he moves, how close he guards his man, how close we are on our defensive traps…and many more applications. This information gives our coaching staff specific data to help our players and team improve.
- Developing Our Current Players- The most cost-effective means to improve our team is to develop and enhance the skills f our current players. We will continue to stress to our coaching staff and our players the importance of player development, including implementing a summer development plan for each player.
- Medical and Strength Development- We have recently taken a cutting edge approach in how we prevent and treat injuries, as well as monitor and enhance the conditioning of our players so they can perform at an optimal level. Utilizing several programs, along with tailoring comprehensive strength and conditioning programs for each player, we are improving and maintaining the optimal health and strength of our players.
Progress This Year
- Overall our team health has been much improved over recent season, and the following are examples of how our players continue to develop their skills.
- Kevin Love continues to evolve into one of the game’s elite players. Kevin is averaging more than 26 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists this year. The last player to maintain those averages for a full season was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar nearly 40 years ago (1975-76).
- Ricky Rubio ranks among the leaders in assists and steals and is on pace to establish career highs in both categories. He is also one of the top rebounding point guards in the NBA. Ricky continues to put in extra time after practice with our coaching staff to improve his shooting.
- Nikola Pekovic is building on last year’s breakout season and posting even better numbers this year with 18+ points and 9+ rebounds per game. Nikola and Kevin form one of the best big man combos in the NBA.
- We have a new working relationship with the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League. We have already used this relationship to help the development of Shabazz Muhammad and will continue to use the D-League to give our young players quality playing time to accelerate their development.
3. Game Preparation
- With our experienced coaching staff and thorough scouting system, we feel our team is well-prepared for any game and any situation. We are also committed to using analytics in our preparation.
Progress This Year:
- We continue to incorporate the latest in technology to make our players as prepared as possible.
- Analytics are used to help us define what helped us win or what caused us to lose. For example, analytics can help us determine which players on our team play best together, what is our best defensive team and which combination of players are best in the late stages of a close game.
- We are committed, now and into the future, to assembling the best coaching staff—one that will have the requisite experience and knowledge to put our players in a position to win.
4. Building a Successful Roster
- We continue to explore all avenues, in the U.S. and around the glove, to increase our talent base, whether it is through the draft, free agency or trades. To achieve continued success, we must constantly be evaluating all eligible players—from college, international leagues, the NBA D-League and the NBA.
- While the NBA Draft has a lottery-ticket allure to it, the reality is that few championship teams, with the exception of San Antonio, have built their roster through the draft. High lottery picks do not guarantee success, and ads we continue to improve the draft will become even less significant as we select lower in the draft. Therefore, internal player development, along with free agency and trades, will take on added importance.
- Thorough Scouting- Our staff, through in-game and video, views more than 50 games per week. WE are constantly watching college, international, NBA D-League and NBA games to develop and monitor a database of players.
Progress This Year
- The offseason brought us a key starter in veteran Kevin Martin. Kevin is averaging more than 18 points a game and gives us a 3-point threat that we had been lacking in recent years. His years of experience also make him a valued leader on our team.
- Corey Brewer was signed as a free agent this summer, returning to the place where he started his NBA in 2007. Corey provides constant energy on the court, whether it’s swooping in for a steal or completing a high-flying dunk after receiving a full-court pass from Kevin Love. His non-stop motor has been a good example for our younger players.
- We re-signed Nikola Pekovic this past offseason and he is rewarding us by having the best season of his career. At just 28 years old, Nikola figures to be a core player for us for years to come.
- We have several international players on our current roster and will continue to scout this abundant talent pool.
5. Style of Play
We want to be known as a fun team to watch, one that plays an up-tempo offense combined with solid team defense. Our offense is predicated on ball and player movement. Our defense is built on each player trusting and helping his teammates. Above all, we will play with discipline, pride, sportsmanship and a will to win.
Progress This Year:
- Our up-tempo style of play has resulted in an exciting brand of basketball, ranking us second in the NBA in scoring with more than 107 points per game, with Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic one of the top scoring trios in the NBA.
- While we play an up-tempo style, we still take care of the ball and rank third in the NBA with the fewest turnovers—less than 15 per game.
- Our aggressive defense has resulted in numerous steals—more than nine per game to rank third in the NBA.
- We want Target Center to be known as one of the toughest arenas to play in for opposing teams. As former NBA head coach Chuck Daly once told Flip Saunders: “Flip, whatever you do, win your home games!” We have done a decent job at home with a 19-13 record (as of March 19), but we know there’s room for improvement.
6. Commitment to our Community
We want our fans to be proud of our team both on and off the court. We understand the importance of being good role models and giving back to the community in a variety of ways that directly impacts a wide audience.
Progress This Year:
- We have assembled a team with solid character, led by Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Mart and Nikola Pekovic. These players and the rest of our team are solid players and community-minded citizens.
- Our team’s commitment to the Upper Midwest is second to none. Our monthly community initiatives include honoring our past and present military personnel (Operation: Minnesota Heroes) assisting those in need (Season of Giving), recognizing children with life-threatening illnesses (WolvesCare), focusing on literacy (Read To Achieve) and helping to preserve our natural resources (Think Green).
- Kevin Love completed his sixth annual Coat Drive this season with more than 4,500 coats being delivered to the Salvation Army this year. In total, more than 11,000 coats have been donated for people in need over the course of Kevin’s Coat Drive.
- Nine Wolves players, including Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, took part in the annual Holiday Shopping With Kids, where kids awaiting adoption were paired with a Wolves player for a $500 shopping spree at Target.