The Minnesota Timberwolves don’t exactly have the most storied history in the NBA when it comes to shooting from beyond the arc. Okay, maybe that’s putting it a little lightly. The Timberwolves have never had a player attempt more than 505 3-pointers in a single season in franchise history, with Kevin Love setting that mark in the 2013-14 season.
Attempting 505 threes in a season sounds like a lot for one player on the surface, but it isn’t. Only two current NBA franchises have a lower franchise record for 3-pointers attempted in a season – the San Antonio Spurs (463 by Chuck Person in 1995-96) and the Memphis Grizzlies (498 by Mike Miller in 2006-07).
With the way the NBA is trending, many of these records are newer ones. Of course, there are a few that still stand from a decade or so ago, but a majority of these records have been set in the last five seasons. Love’s mark from 2013-14 – which wasn’t that long ago – feels like a lifetime ago.
This year, that franchise record could fall, with not one, but two players surpassing it. Both Robert Covington and Karl-Anthony Towns will attempt more than 505 3-pointers this season, and at least one of them will break Love’s franchise record of 190 makes from that season, too.
The case for Covington is a bit simpler than the case for Towns. Last season he only played 22 games while a member of the Wolves, but in that stretch, he averaged 6.7 3PA per game. If that is played out over a full 82-game season, he would finish with roughly 550 3PA.
The caveat with Covington is that he has to stay healthy in order to accomplish this. Throughout his entire career he has not played in all 82 games of a season – which is a tall ask for any player these days – and only once has he topped 70 games. Last year he played in just 35 games thanks to a knee injury that sapped the second half of the season from him.
Let’s say that Covington doesn’t play the entire season. Bumps and bruises happen, and the likelihood of him playing each game – only 21 players last year played all 82 – is slim. If Covington plays 75 games, he would need to average 6.74 3PA per game to reach the franchise record. That seems pretty doable for him.
The unknown is whether or not Towns will be able to make the necessary jump in 3PA to get near Love’s record. Last season he attempted 4.6 3-pointers per game, which was a sizeable jump from the 3.5 3PA in his previous season. It’s not crazy to think that he could increase that number by roughly two per game, but it will depend on how he’s going to be utilized in the offense of Ryan Saunders. It’s obvious he’s going to be at the center of it, but the positions on the floor that he’ll be in are still a bit of a mystery, and will be until the regular season rolls around in mid-October.
Last season was the first of his career that Towns didn’t play in all 82 games – missing five games due to a car accident around the All-Star break and knee soreness towards the end of the season – and maybe he won’t ever again. But Towns has showed that he’s durable and can be counted on to be on the court for at least 75 games this season, barring something unforeseen.
Last season Towns had 24 games in which he shot six 3-pointers or more, and in 10 of those games he attempted at least seven threes. If he’s going to reach the type of number he needs to in order to break the record, those games will have to become the norm for him.
The other record
As one would imagine, the record for most threes made in a season coincides with the record for most threes attempted. In the season in which Love put up 505 3-pointers, he knocked down 190 of them, shattering the previous franchise record of 142 set by Rashad McCants in 2007-08 (Towns did knock down exactly 142 last season).
That’s a number that Towns should beat next season if he gets anywhere near the required number of attempts. In Love’s record-breaking season he shot 37.6% from deep. In each of the last two years Towns has been 40% or better from deep, and there’s no reason to think that stops now. Even if Towns finishes a few attempts shy of that record, the possibility for him to break the record for makes still exists.
With Covington, a career 36% shooter from deep, that might be a bit more unlikely. If he’s going to break the record for makes in a season, he’ll need to likely beat Love’s mark for attempts, too.
In the NBA last season there were only two sets of teammates that both hit 190 3-pointers or more – Houston’s James Harden and Eric Gordon and Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. As far as the attempts go, there were 17 players in the NBA that registered 505 or more attempts from deep. There were three sets of teammates that accomplished it. The aforementioned pairs in Houston and Golden State as well as Jae Crowder and Donovan Mitchell in Utah.
If the Wolves are going to make this happen, they could replicate the numbers from Crowder and Mitchell, but with one of Towns or Covington shooting a higher percentage to break the record.