You have to travel back in time 20 years to find a team as defensively inept as the Timberwolves have been this season.
The season is only 12 games old so there's plenty of time to fix things, but opponents are making 50.3 percent of all shots they take against the Wolves. Not only is it three percentage points worse than any other team in the NBA this season, it's the worst the NBA has seen since the 1996-97 Boston Celtics allowed opponents to make 50.3 percent of their shots.
Basically, the Wolves are horrible in every defensive area of the game. Check out some of these numbers from NBA.com stats.
- Points off turnovers allowed: 30th (21.8)
- Fastbreak points allowed: 30th (16.5)
- Points in the paint allowed: 27th (49.0)
Those are three linear stats: Turnover ➡ Fastbreak ➡ Points in the Paint (layups/dunks).
"Offense will never be the problem all year long," Wolves guard Jimmy Butler said after Saturday's loss to the Suns, via ESPN. "All you're always going to hear about from us, from everybody else, is we're not playing any defense. That is our biggest letdown right now. And until we fix it, a lot of outcomes are going to be like this one."
The answer to their defensive problems is nowhere in sight, and as Deadspin's Chris Thompson points out, Tom Thibodeau might have to evolve to maintain his legacy as a great defensive coach.
"Thibodeau’s system has always been about loading the strong side with defenders, a strategy that made a ton of sense when the NBA was still largely ruled by prolific isolation scorers, and featured offenses less geared towards ball and player movement, and pace, and three-pointers."
It's still too early to make any final judgements, but the fact that the Wolves' defensive rating hasn't improved at all from last season, and that opponents are shooting at a higher percentage than any team has allowed in 20 years, is frightening.