Timberwolves Have Right Man for the Job
Tom Thibodeau was introduced Tuesday as the new head coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It did not take Wolves owner Glen Taylor long to announce his selection and, upon further review, I think he made the right choice. Of course time will tell, but Taylor's swift action should be a lesson for the University of Minnesota in their marathon search for a new athletic director.
Taylor hired a search firm but there was no long, drawn-out process. They quickly identified their choices and, by all accounts, Taylor got the first man he chose for the position.
And why not? This is a really good situation Thibodeau, age 58, is coming into at Minnesota.
Taylor is not afraid to spend money to get what the coach and president of basketball operations feels the team needs to be successful. The talent is definitely there offensively and the reason I think Taylor made the right choice in Thibodeau is his defensive genius. The Wolves were clearly not very good defensively this season.
In checking the NBA statistics, Minnesota ranked 23rd in the league, allowing 106 points per game while scoring 102.4 per contest, 15th in the league.
Thibodeau is matter of fact. That's what I love about him and I'm sure that's what players will love about him. He said during his news conference the team needs to cut down on their turnovers to become more efficient on offense.
Minnesota ranked 22nd out of 30 teams in turnovers. The Wolves were 27th in defensive efficiency and 11th in offensive efficiency.
Minnesota was 28th in rebounding and I was surprised to see they were seventh in three-pointers attempted and 10th in three-pointers made while ranking 17th in three-point field goal percentage.
Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns are budding superstars, but I think the key is point guard Ricky Rubio. Rubio improved a lot this past season under Sam Mitchell and hopefully will improve even more next season. Sometimes he tries to make a regular play a spectacular play and it ends in a turnover.
Hopefully Thibodeau can reign some of that in while still allowing Rubio to push the pace because this Minnesota team could be a fun team to watch if they utilize their athleticism in the open floor. That same athleticism can be used on the defensive end of the floor.
The key to good defense is rotation. Players need to trust their teammates will help them if they are beaten on a play.
With their athleticism, Minnesota should be able to play much better defensively.
Rubio was fifth in the league in assists and ranked second in steals.
Wiggins was 19th in scoring at 20.7 points per game. But I thought he took a step back on the defensive end of the floor and that might be because he logged a lot of minutes (35) per game.
Towns ranked 26th in scoring with 18.3 points per contest and was third in double-doubles in the NBA with 51.
Zach Levine showed signs of embracing the off guard role and I assume Thibodeau will keep him there.
I love Shabazz Muhammed coming off the bench and hopefully Tyus Jones can improve and become a professional back-up point guard to Rubio.
But the Timberwolves clearly need to shore up their bench, and it would be very nice to get a couple veterans. A good rebounder and a consistent three-point shooter would be nice, and I'm sure Thibodeau has his eye on a few guys already.
Initially I have to admit I wanted Scotty Brooks to get the Minnesota job because I thought be a better fit for the youth on this team. Brooks did a great job with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook when they first came into the league. But Thibodeau has had some success with young players also.
In addition to Thibodeau, the Timberwolves also introduced Scott Layden as the team's new general manager. Layden and Thibodeau know each other well and say they will be on the same page in developing Minnesota into a NBA power.
When asked if Minnesota will be a playoff team next season, Thibodeau was quick to say he won't guarantee anything except he'll work very hard to see the team improves.
In his five seasons in Chicago the Bulls made the playoffs every year. If I were a betting man, I'd say barring injuries you will be able to purchase playoff tickets for the Timberwolves next season.