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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 (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. 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. 

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