SAN ANTONIO – The Timberwolves have prided themselves on taking high-value shots, and one of the most productive shots on the floor is the corner three-pointer.
As the Wolves have shifted to becoming one of the most three-happy teams in the league, they aren't getting quite the amount of threes from those spots on the floor that Ryan Saunders would like.
A corner three is shorter than the "above the break" three since the three-point line is not a perfect arc around the floor. The three-point line is 23 feet, 9 inches above the break and 22 feet in the corners. The Wolves were tied for third entering Wednesday in overall three-point attempts at 39.5 per game. But they are 16th in corner threes at 7.1. Saunders said he did notice a slight uptick in corner three attempts since the beginning of the season — a design of the offense trying to target defenders in those areas.
"I don't know if I'm ever happy fully unless it's perfect," Saunders said. "But that's how it should be. We don't want to be satisfied. We tried to do more things where we engage the low man in a defensive schematic coverage, and then we do a lot of things within our shootarounds and practice days where we work on that extra pass to the corner and just try to drill that home."
The Wolves are one of the worst teams in making corner threes — they hit just 29.6%, 29th in the league. It's a number the Wolves hope will progress to the mean.
"Those are shots we should take more of and knock more of those down," said Treveon Graham, who is working through a shooting slump from three-point range (19%). "I feel like we take a good, decent amount of them, just have to lock in and make more of them."
The Wolves tend to take more corner threes from the left side of the floor (4.5) than the right (2.6). That's a product of most players being right-handed, Saunders said, and on right-handed drives to the basket, it tends to be the opposite corner that is open. This is what the Wolves have tried to take advantage of when Andrew Wiggins is driving to the hoop.
"The low man commits and we've been able to get some of those corner looks," Saunders said.
They want to take more … and they need to hit more of them.
Saunders' excitement has been growing for the looming football matchup between his former school, the University of Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Saunders and Gophers coach P.J. Fleck are good friends.
"I was just texting with Heather, P.J.'s wife, because I want to make sure to give him some space right now," Saunders said. "I know it's a big one. I'm rowing the boat. They got our full support."
Saunders and the Wolves are in talks to see what kind of role Saunders might have on ESPN's "College GameDay," which is coming to campus. The Wolves do have a practice scheduled for noon Saturday.
"I'm hoping that it works out timing-wise where I at least get to be around for part of the festivities," Saunders said. "… We love them, and I love what [Fleck] is doing. He's a great ambassador for the U of M."