While most of us have officially begun our quest in sticking to our New Year’s resolutions, the Minnesota Timberwolves are in need of making a few resolutions of their own to ensure a prosperous year of basketball. The Timberwolves find themselves with a .500 record (16-16) with only a few games left in the first half of the season. Their mediocre record has them sitting at the 9th position in the the tough Western Conference, giving them a realistic chance of making the playoffs. However, the Timberwolves must improve on multiple aspects of the game to sneak their way into the playoff picture.
The first resolution that the Timberwolves need to make is committing to turning the ball over less. The Timberwolves are averaging 14.34 turnovers per game thus far into the season. Although being in the top 5% of teams with the least amount of turnovers per game, the Timberwolves find themselves missing out on 14 more potential shot attempts from one of the league’s most prolific scorers in Kevin Love. Each game’s 14 lost possessions would more than likely influence the result of most games as the Timberwolves have lost by an average of only 8.06 points this season. The team is shooting 43% from the field thus far, so an additional 5 or 6 buckets off of 14 additional possessions would definitely influence the win column.
The second resolution is continuing to use Nikola Pekovic as an offensive threat. Most teams in the NBA can’t say that the bulk of their offensive production comes from their front court, but the Timberwolves sure can. Love and Pekovic have continued to show that they are the most dominant power forward/center duo in the league by owning the glass and also accounting for much of their team’s offensive fire power. Pekovic is averaging a respectable 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this season, making him one of the toughest big men to handle in the league. It is clear that the Timberwolves cannot continue to rely on Love to do all of the scoring and rebounding. With that being said, if Pekovic can find a way to increase his points per game average into the low 20’s and bump his rebounds per game into double digits, the Timberwolves will be nearly impossible to maintain down low.
The final resolution for the Timberwolves is committing to consistency. Minnesota has shown flashes of greatness throughout the season with victories over Oklahoma City and Portland, but have also suffered baffling losses to Boston, Denver, and Toronto. Many of these losses were decided by only a few points, which shows that their talent level is not in question, but rather their focus on each individual game. Teams who continuously find themselves playing in June are usually the more consistent organizations. The Timberwolves need to commit themselves to consistency each and every time they step onto the hardwood in order to secure a spot in this year’s playoffs.
The Minnesota Timberwolves currently control their own destiny in regards to their playoff hopes. A commitment to turning the ball over less, involving Pekovic more in the offense, and displaying a consistent level of play will only help them achieve their goals for this NBA season. With many deserving teams in the Western Conference, it is imperative that the Timberwolves capitalize on each game from here on out.