Skip to main content

Saunders: Wolves must improve defense and 3-point shooting

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Defense and three-point shooting are the two main areas where Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said he wants to see his team improve the most.

"We have to improve defensively," said Saunders told reporters. "We feel that can really come with strength. So our players, especially our young players, have to get stronger."

The Wolves shot just 33 percent from the three-point line this season and averaged a league-fewest 5.0 three-pointers a game.

Saunders acknowledged that improvement at the three-point line will have to come from within the players on the roster and through some options in the draft and free agency.

Still, Saunders thinks that despite Minnesota's 16-66 record, the team did make some progress this past season.

"It's not very many times when you lose as many games as we lost and feel like you accomplished something," said Saunders. "Our young players developed at a rapid pace, we had four guys in the rookie-sophomore game. One guy was the MVP and the other guy maybe would have won it if their team had in Wig (Andrew Wiggins) and Zach (LaVine)."

The future

The next big step for the Wolves will be the NBA Draft. Minnesota knows it will have a high draft pick and Saunders is confident they'll find another piece.

"I believe this: I believe when you draft in the top four or five, I believe you're going to get a good player," Saunders added. "This is a pretty deep draft, and it's a pretty top-heavy draft really compared to some of these past years. What you have to do at that point is take the best player available and not be as concerned with what position he (plays)."

Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky's Karl Anthony-Towns are expected to be among this year's top picks. But a number of top college players have already declared for the draft – including native Minnesotans Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn.

With the continued injury issues for Nikola Pekovic, the Star Tribune's Michael Rand believes Saunders really has to be eyeing one of the two big men. But Saunders himself wasn't giving too many hints.

"Whoever we draft will be a piece (next year)," said Saunders. "The draft is that good."

The NBA Draft Lottery is May 19, while the draft itself is in June.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-07-05 at 9.19.07 AM

Missing Minnesotan's boat washes ashore on island in middle of Atlantic

Joseph Matthew Johnson has been missing since November.

Boom Island

8 injured as gunfire erupts during July 4th celebrations at Boom Island

"Several" victims are in critical condition, a spokesperson with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said.

Screen Shot 2022-07-05 at 7.01.29 AM

Fireworks likely cause of garage blaze in Hugo

The fire fortunately didn't spread to the house.

Ellie Ragin

Police obtain 'valuable information' in search for missing 6-year-old Elle Ragin

The 6-year-old is still missing following the death of her mother by suicide.


Fatal crash involving 18-year-old in western Minnesota

The 18-year-old was not wearing a seatbelt, the State Patrol said.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

2 women stabbed during parking lot brawl in St. Cloud

Police are searching for another woman in connection with the attack.

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 10.02.43 AM

One killed in St. Paul house fire

Two firefighters were injured as they battled the blaze.


Minneapolis: Stop calling 911 for fireworks noise complaints

The city wants people to submit complaints online instead.

American flag at half-staff/half mast.

What's open and closed in Minnesota on the Fourth of July

Grocery stores are open, though some have limited hours.


18-year-old killed by exploding firework in Brooklyn Park

Police arrived at the scene to see the victim's friend performing CPR.

Screen Shot 2022-07-03 at 9.31.25 PM

Boy found in Brooklyn Park is reunited with parents

The boy was found shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday.