Last season, the Timberwolves were the worst defensive team in the NBA. By far. They allowed 109.6 points per 100 possessions, which was more than six per 100 worse than the league average. If Minnesota is going to take a step forward next season, that is the obvious area for improvement (although their 26th ranked offense could use some help, too). Minnesota has a long ways to go.
More than just talent, coach Flip Saunders is counting on a veteran presence to change the Timberwolves defense around.
He tweeted as much Friday.
That doesn’t hurt. Kevin Garnett can still quarterback a defense, even if his reactions to what he recognizes are now a step slow. Tayshaun Prince still knows how to defend on the perimeter.
I can see Prince helping mentor Andrew Wiggins. I can see KG helping Karl-Anthony Townes understand how to recognize what is coming and protect the rim.
Defense at the NBA level starts with simple effort — not every team, not every player gives it. If the veterans on the Timberwolves help install a real work ethic on that end, it would be a big start.
But just a start. Minnesota has a long way to go.