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Wiggins And Towns’ Defense Is Holding Back The T-Wolves

by admin on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017


karl anthony towns minnesotaHead coach Tom Thibodeau, who is known as a tough-minded defensive genius, was brought to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016 to improve their woeful defense.

When he arrived in Minnesota he was expected to instantly affect the defense more than anything else, and help the T-wolves unlock all the potential they had in rising stars like Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. 

However, the past two seasons in Minnesota have been brutal on the defensive end. Last year they ranked 27th in defensive rating and this year has been disappointingly similar as they rank 26th. 

That said, the Wolves have been able to carve out an 18-13 record, in part because their offense is fifth in the league, and primarily because their strength of schedule has at best been average. 

So, what is holding Minnesota back from being a serious playoff contender? In one word: Defense. After all, Minnesota’s defensive stats are nowhere near acceptable. They are way too unreliable and apparently lack the will to execute at times some of the most basic defensive principles. 

Although no player in the Wolves is immune from criticism for their defensive performance through the first part of this season, Towns could very well be the worst defensive player in the league while Wiggins isn’t too far behind. 

Towns often prefers to walk around while on defense and this puts him in a bad position. As a result, he is at times left with no chance to contest shots and resorts to just putting both hands in the air as a vague attempt at pressuring his opponent. 

All this leaves his team vulnerable in the middle and gives opposing players the opportunity to score freebies quite often.  

On a positive note, he blocks one or two shots a game, but these blocks come from the weak side help when he can surprise the shooter or after the opponent has been held in place by the primary defender and he just swoops in to reject the shot. 

Defending the post is also a challenge for Tows as he often lacks aggressiveness to contest against attacking players and often seems afraid of picking up a foul. 

Towns has a weak lower body and struggles to prevent low post players from getting close to the hoop and reject or prevent any resulting shots.  

Wiggins for his part is one of those players that should be among the quickest on the court, yet he repeatedly fails to showcase this. His awareness isn’t great as he often fails to see that his teammates are already in good position and stays in the paint too long. This usually causes him to be two steps behind his man, who ends up taking a wide open three-point shot from the corner. 

Wiggins also struggles to anticipate the moves of opposing players and as a result fails to use his quickness to get in time to the open shooter that should have been guarded by him. 

It seems that the T-wolves opponents have realized how bad these two players are struggling defensively and involve both of them in pick and rolls quite often, thus taking advantage to get wide-open or high-percentage shots for the easy points. 

With Thibodeau in charge, there is no excuse for Towns and Wiggins to be this bad at defending. After all, if they don’t have the will to start working hard and improve their defensive game under “Thibs,” they may never improve it at all. But if that happens, Minnesota will most likely never get to the point where they can make a deep playoff run in the Western Conference with this talented generation of players. 


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