After months of changes, planning and talk of a new era in Timberwolves, the Wolves finally will take their first steps in the Gersson Rosas era Wednesday night in Brooklyn. In the preseason, the Wolves showed some of the changes they are undergoing with head coach Ryan Saunders permanently in charge on the bench. Here are some story lines to track during their season.
Just how many threes will they take?
The Wolves are trying to become more analytically minded in their shot selection and during the preseason they let it fly from three-point range. They took the fourth-most threes (42 per game) of any team, which if they kept it up in the regular season would blow last year’s pace (28.7) out of the water. It’s one thing to take a lot of threes, but how many will the Wolves make? In the preseason, they shot just 30%.
How fast will they go?
The Wolves had the most possessions per game of any team at 112.8 in the preseason. There is bound to be some slowing down once the regular seasons hits, and teams play a little more defense. But whether they lead the league or not, expect a lot of possessions and a lot of shots going up early in the shot clock — likely from three-point range.
Keeping an eye on Culver
The early returns on rookie Jarrett Culver were promising. He averaged 12.4 points per game while shooting 41% in the preseason. But more important than that was how Culver looked. He looked like he belonged on the floor and was comfortable in a variety of roles, playing off ball and sometimes handling it. Culver’s defense probably will be ahead of most rookies, as well.
Who will round out the starting lineup?
Jeff Teague, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington are locked in to start the season, but who will be the fifth? It seems as if it will be a rotation between Treveon Graham and Jake Layman. Graham looked like a natural fit given his versatility guarding multiple positions while the Wolves like Layman’s high basketball IQ and ability to play off the ball.
What is the ceiling for Towns?
The organization has given Towns the keys to the franchise as he begins his maximum deal. Everything revolves around him, especially on the offensive end of the floor, where you’ll see him playing beyond the three-point line facilitating the operation. Given how fast the Wolves want to play, Towns could see a significant jump in his statistics. He averaged 24.4 points 12.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Those should go up, as should his three-point attempts, which were 4.6 per game.