Skip to main content

6 reasons why the Wolves are off to a hot start

Even the national media is in on Minnesota's hot start.

The Timberwolves are 3-0 to start the season and starting to turn heads on the national level.

After most outlets pegged them to be outside the top eight in the Western Conference, Minnesota has jumped into the top five of power rankings on NBA.com (No. 5) and CBS Sports (No. 3).

Nearly everything is clicking right now for the Wolves, and these are among the reasons why they're off to their best start since 2013-14. 

Towns playing out of his mind

Towns has been a monster through three games. Entering play Monday, Towns ranked third in scoring (32.0), sixth in rebounds (13.3), second in steals (3.0) and is averaging the second most 3-pointers made per game (5.0). 

Fans have seen Towns' offensive game expand in his previous four seasons but the big man – at least early on – is starting to make strides on the defensive end.

NBA.com noted that Towns has been the best him protector in the league with opponents shooting just 34% against him.

3-point attempts

We saw in the preseason that the Wolves were finally to starting to adopt a heavy 3-point philosophy and they've carried that over into the regular season.

Through three games, the Wolves have attempted 42 threes per game (a 42% increase from last season), which is the second most in the league.

However, the Wolves are converting just 30% of their attempts, which ranks 26th in the NBA. Regardless of the percentage, clearly the uptick in attempts is leading to a more versatile offense. 

Towns and Jake Layman are the only players hitting at least 37% of their attempts but players like Robert Covington and Andrew Wiggins, who are attempting a heathy dosage, should see their shots start falling more.

Wiggins' clutch moments

Speaking of Wiggins, his 3-point barrage on Sunday against the Miami Heat was seriously a top-three highlight in his six-year career.

After being benched earlier in the game, Wiggins came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points over four-consecutive possessions, including three 3-pointers putting the game out of reach. 

Wiggins previously had missed his first 13 shots from behind the arc before going 4-for-4 against the Heat. 

The former No. 1 overall pick also knocked down some clutch shots in Minnesota's season-opening overtime win against Brooklyn.

Although he's still had some frustrating moments sandwiched in between this season, hopefully he's turning a corner for good because the Wolves can't afford for him to be the player he's been the past two seasons.  

Balanced offense and defense

Through three games, the Wolves offense is one of the best in the league and their defense has been right in the middle.

  • Offensive rating 111.6 (5th) 
  • Defensive rating 102.4 (14th)

Minnesota has only played Eastern Conference teams so far and will obviously face better competition as the schedule heats up. 

But let's put this in a vacuum for a second and if the Wolves are fifth in offense and 14th in defense by year's end, that's probably good enough to be in the playoff conversation.

Second-chance points

When you have a force like Towns on the glass, grabbing up offensive rebounds is almost unfair. 

Through three games, the Wolves are picking up the third most offensive rebounds (13 per game) in the league, but their 17.3 second-chance points per game are the most in the league.

Maybe what's more surprising is Wiggins is leading the team with 2.7 offensive rebounds per game. For someone who's averaged four total rebounds per game in his career, it's another huge stride for Wiggins.

Bench is dialed in

The Timberwolves' starting five of Towns, Covington, Wiggins, Treveon Graham and Jeff Teague are still trying to gel, but Minnesota's bench has seen multiple players step up.

Josh Okogie has been Ryan Saunders' sixth man and rightfully so. Okogie brings the exact kind energy and efficiency this team needs.

Meanwhile, Layman's been hitting his threes and backup point guard Shabazz Napier has been as advertised when subbed in for Teague.

Entering play Monday, all three of the aforementioned reserves are in the top four in the league for plus/minus, which is exactly what you want to see from your bench.

  • Okogie + 45 (1st) 
  • Layman +40 (3rd)
  • Napier +38 (4th)

Minnesota will look to improve to 4-0 when they play at Philadelphia Wednesday night. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 2.34.44 PM

Yes, that's MN native Jenny Taft in a State Farm commercial

Jenny Taft got her broadcasting career started in Minneapolis in 2011.

crime scene tape - police tape

23-year-old woman critical after shooting in Plymouth

A 23-year-old woman was shot Friday night in Plymouth.

white Christmas

2 MN towns among most 'magical' winter locations in the country

The list was compiled by Trips Discover and published earlier this month.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 8.27.12 AM

St. Olaf football player charged after fatal crash in Chicago

The 18-year-old is accused of speeding and going the wrong way when he crashed into a vehicle that may have been attempting to flee police.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 7.41.18 AM

Woman 34 weeks pregnant injured by drunk driver in Cottage Grove

The 49-year-old suspected of DUI was booked into jail around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

ambulance

2 dead, 5 injured in Thanksgiving Day crash near Alexandria

The crash involved two people from Alexandria and five from Bloomington.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 6.44.11 PM

Lengthy standoff in Prior Lake ends late Friday night

The suspect allegedly assaulted an officer outside Kwik Trip, fled and broke into a home.

snow - 12-10-21 - Joe Nelson - 5

Accumulating snow possible in Twin Cities next week

The storm system could arrive in the Tuesday-Wednesday timeframe.

Target store snow

With Black Friday barely underway, Target reveals Cyber Monday deals

Plans for the two-day sale were revealed Friday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 9.37.25 AM

Man waves replica assault weapon at drivers in downtown Minneapolis

The alarming incident was spotted by the new MPD chief, Brian O'Hara.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 9.29.58 AM

Extremely drunk driver arrested in Chaska

The driver was more than four times the legal limit.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 8.21.21 AM

Stillwater police looking for suspect who stole vehicle with 1-year-old inside

The suspect abandoned the vehicle with the child still inside just 5 minutes after the theft.

Related

Screen Shot 2019-10-23 at 9.26.42 PM

Kyrie Irving scores 50 but Wolves outlast Nets in overtime

Minnesota led by as many as 17 points in the first half.

Screen Shot 2019-10-23 at 8.50.33 AM

5 things to watch for as the Wolves open the season in Brooklyn

Minnesota opens the season at Brooklyn Wednesday night.

Screen Shot 2019-10-15 at 8.59.42 AM

Do the Wolves have the horses to be a legit 3-and-D team?

If the preseason is any indication, the Wolves will be launching a ton of threes.

Devin Booker

Why the Wolves should go all-in to trade for Devin Booker

The one name the Wolves should be poking around the most in the trade market is Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker.

Andrew Wiggins

Nuggets smother Timberwolves in overtime loss.

The Timberwolves shot just 6-for-44 from three-point range.

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins shines again Timberwolves beat Pistons

The Timberwolves beat the Pistons for the first time since 2015.

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins' late explosion lifts Wolves to 3-0 start

Wiggins began the season missing his first 13 shots from beyond the arc, but came alive in the final three minutes for a string of 11 straight points to help the Wolves beat the Heat.