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West Coast Thoughts: Wolves letting it fly — and cashing in — from 3

Bombs away

The Wolves had the best game in franchise history from behind the 3-point arc. Minnesota finished the night 20-of-40 from deep for an even 50 percent. The 20 made 3-pointers broke a franchise record that was set last year (oddly against a LeBron James-led team). The Wolves had tons of open shots from deep, including hitting on 7-of-13 corner 3s.

The corner 3-pointer is regarded as the most efficient shot in basketball and one that teams have been striving to get big men to take. The example of this on the Wolves is Taj Gibson. Dane Moore wrote the other day about Taj shooting from long range — and the shade of green on Gibson’s green light.

Against the Lakers Gibson was 3-of-5 on 3s, all of them coming from one of the corners.

Seeing the Wolves knock down 20 shots from deep in a game isn’t something that most would have anticipated. This season they’re attempting 30.6 3-pointers per game, which is up over eight (!!) attempts a game. The Wolves were in last place in the NBA in terms of 3PA last season, and they’re in eighth following the loss to the Lakers.

They’re not just attempting shots from deep at a much higher clip so far this year, but they’ve actually improved the rate at which they make them, as well. The Wolves are shooting 36 percent from deep this year compared to 35 percent in 2017-18. That may not seem like a huge jump in terms of success, but it’s good enough to move up from 19th in the league in terms of percentage last season to 11th this year. Progress!

D-Rose, again

Okay, we’re getting close to the point where it may be a safe space to say that Derrick Rose is good again. Being tentative to say this is understandable (as this author is extremely cautious in this area), but he’s been very good for the Wolves when he’s been on the floor this season.

Rose as also been a reason as to the Wolves improvement from deep, which is not a sentence anyone thought they would be typing in the year 2018. Against the Lakers he hit 7-of-8 from behind the arc and is shooting a career-best 46% (!!) from 3-point range.

Now, will he continue to shoot at that high of a clip all season long? Likely not.

And he’s hitting contested shots in big moments!

It’s more than just his assault from deep this season, this has looked like the Rose of old in terms of explosion and ability to get to the rim. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but the Wolves are getting more out of Rose than anyone could have expected. It was mentioned on ESPN’s broadcast against the Lakers that this past summer was the first time in five years that Rose didn’t have to spend the summer rehabbing. Maybe there’s something to that.

KAT’s passing

One area where Karl-Anthony Towns has certainly improved this season is in his passing ability out of the post. There are still times where he plays as if he has blinders on and forgets about teammates in the post – which happens to just about everyone at times – but there have been some pretty terrific passes from the 7-footer this season so far.

Against the Lakers he made this pass in the first quarter which was arguably his best of the night. Obviously, Tolliver missing the shot makes it all for naught, but this is a pass that he didn’t seem to make last season.

In this one both Gibson and Towns do a terrific job of recognizing the double team coming to KAT from James. Again, this is probably a pass that Towns doesn’t make in previous seasons. This is something that should be a staple of the Wolves’ offense and currently isn’t.

Is November too early for a must-win?

The Wolves are in danger of going winless on this west coast road trip. They’ve got one chance left on Friday night in Sacramento. It’s hard to say that there’s a “must-win” game in November, much less on Nov. 9, but this might be it. If the Wolves fall to 4-9 on the season, it has to be time to unload Butler and possibly other pieces. It’s still early, but it will only be early for so much longer before the reality that this team doesn’t look like a playoff contender this season.

Embracing the tank for this year and this year alone may not be the worst thing in the world for the Wolves. Landing a top pick in what appears to be a very good draft class and starting over with a core of Towns, Josh Okogie, and another talented youngster could be the ticket to success in 3-to-5 years.



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