Coach Tom Thibodeau asks his Wolves for more three-point shots
When the Timberwolves open the season in San Antonio on Wednesday night, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins will be surrounded by three new starters in Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague.
The new, veteran-laden roster figures to be better defensively, tougher and deeper off the bench.
But heres another area in which coach Tom Thibodeau wants to see improvement: three-point shooting. And thats something that will have to come from a lot of places.
Weve talked a lot about that, Thibodeau said after Tuesdays practice.
The Wolves shot 1,723 three-pointers last season, Thibodeaus first at the helm. That was 376 or nearly five per game more than the 2015-16 Wolves. Minnesota took more threes and made 146 more, but it was still ranked 30th in the league in both categories.
Thibodeau said hed like to see the team take five more threes per game this year, too. The keys to that number growing, he said, are transition play, getting threes off offensive rebounds and executing out of double teams.
We have to take another jump in that area, Thibodeau said. We worked a lot on that in practice. Well continue to work on that. And I think guys have shown good improvement.
The addition of Jamal Crawford has given the Wolves a capable three-point shooter. Thibodeau said he expects Wiggins to improve in that area, as well as Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica. He also expects Towns to remain the unique perimeter threat he proved himself to be last season.
Thibodeau knows he has depth with this roster, with the likes of Crawford, Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng and Bjelica coming off the bench.
But, with just three preseason games this fall, Thibodeau didnt have enough time to settle on his rotations.
It will be a work in progress, he said. Every day were finding out more and more what combinations work well together.
During those three preseason games Thibodeau did a lot of wave substitutions, allowing the backups to play as a five-man unit. That will change in the regular season. But you might see Thibodeau go deeper into his bench than last season.
Your team tells you what youre going to do, he said. My first two years in Chicago we played 10, because of the depth of the team. Last year, with Zach [LaVine] and Bjelica getting hurt, that made us thin. But I think we do have more depth. Obviously you have your best players on the floor, so you start with that. And then its who complements those players the best.
Rookie center Justin Patton, still recovering from foot surgery in July, has yet to be cleared to practice. And the Wolves are determined not to push him. But once hes ready, dont expect him to be sent to the teams G League affiliate in Des Moines. At least not right away.
I want to see him in practice first, Thibodeau said. I want to see where he is. I like to have him here, so he has an understanding of what were trying to do.
That said, Patton figures to get some time with the Iowa Wolves.
I think the opportunity comes where hes not playing a lot, were on the road, and maybe there is an opportunity for him to get some playing time, maybe well use it that way, Thibodeau said. But I want to see him first with our team.
New PA announcer
Picked from a search that drew over 400 people, the Wolves have hired Shawn Parker as the teams public address announcer. A Washington, D.C., native, Parker was most recently the PA announcer at George Washington University and for the Womens Football Alliances D.C. Divas.