Learnings From The Wolves’ First 10 Games

by Shahbaz Khan

Three weeks into the 2020-21 regular season, the Minnesota Timberwolves sit at 3-7, currently last place in the Western Conference.

Though the Wolves jumped out to back-to-back victories to begin the season 2-0, Minnesota fell in its next seven contests, with Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie missing several games throughout the losing streak. On Sunday, the team’s 10th game of the season, the Timberwolves emerged victorious on the tail end of a back-to-back series versus the San Antonio Spurs.

Ultimately, Minnesota hopes to build upon its impressive showing on Sunday while taking learnings from Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie’s extended absences to adjust the team’s plans.

Amongst those plans is finding minutes for Jarred Vanderbilt, who has provided instant energy throughout his time on the court this season. Vanderbilt is averaging career-highs across nearly every statistical category, and is one of the team’s best rebounders, averaging 12.7 rebounds per 36 minutes.

“He makes it hard for a coach to keep him off the floor,” said Head Coach Ryan Saunders following the team’s victory over San Antonio.

Meanwhile, star point guard D’Angelo Russell has found a groove over the Wolves last four games, averaging 25.5 points, six-plus assists, and three-plus rebounds per contest. Most notably, Russell has been more aggressive in his shot distribution, upping his shot attempts within five feet of the rim from two to four attempts during this four-game stretch.

Lastly, Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie are game-changers for Minnesota. When Okogie plays 20-plus minutes, the Wolves are 3-0 this season, holding opponents to 106.75 points per game, which would currently be sixth-fewest in the Association. Alongside Towns, who is averaging three blocks per game thus far, the duo completely changes the Wolves’ defensive persona. On the other end of the floor, No. 32 continues to build upon his dominant offensive skill set, averaging 21 points per game on 41% shooting from deep this season.

Sixty-two games remain, and the team remains optimistic about its potential with an expected return to full strength beginning Wednesday versus the Memphis Grizzlies at Target Center.


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