There have been plenty of culprits in the Wolves' disappointing season, including the 4-9 start during the Jimmy Butler saga and the inability to take advantage of a soft early schedule. Lately, though, there's been a more fundamental culprit: Awful defense.

Their defensive rating since Ryan Saunders took over is No. 29 in the league out of 30 teams at 115.5 points allowed per 100 possessions. (Their offensive rating in that span is No. 8).

And in the past 11 games, as any hopes of a credible playoff push have vanished, the Wolves are dead last in defensive rating at 120.6 (more than three points worse than the next team).

Robert Covington's extended absence certainly has played a role, and the Wolves miss Luol Deng more than they probably should. Perhaps most alarming: Karl-Anthony Towns' defensive rating in the Wolves' past 11 games (in which he's played 10) is 122.5.

Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. michael.rand@startribune.com.