Why are the Timberwolves still struggling??
Yesterday I received a text from my friend Chuck Diesel that asked "Why do the Timberwolves still s**k?" As it happened that question has been on my mind for about a week.
As I've mentioned in the past, my brother is a Minnesota Timberwolves season ticket holder, and my 2 year old nephew, who is absolutely my man, is a Twolves fan (he also likes Bango and he loves to wear the toddler size Kevin Garnett road Celtics jersey my brother bought him at the Target Center). And my brother invited me up for the Twolves vs. LA Clippers game on December 7.
But beyond all that, last summer I GUARANTEED my brother the Timberwolves would be an improved team this winter. After all, they added big time college Win Producer Kevin Love and proven Win Producer Mike Miller. So how do is that they continue to struggle? I have the answer.
What "Total Win Contribution" revealed
1. Both Kevin Love and Mike Miller have made large POSITIVE Win Contributions to the Timberwolves. And I anticipate Love's contribution will only rise, because at the moment he has a high Win Score 48 the fact that he's shooting an uncharacteristically low FG%. In short, the two summer additions have done what I anticipated they would do. So the answer lies elsewhere.
2. The main culprits, the players responsible for the Twolves failure to make any progress thus far this season, believe it or not, are by and large the "Ex-Celtics". Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Craig Smith, Ryan Gomes, and Sebastian Telfair are all making lower Win Contributions than they did last season. Most of those players, as you will note, came to the Wolves via the Kevin Garnett trade.
3. Al Jefferson's offense has been fine. Its his defense that continues to decline. This season it has been absolutely horrible. He MUST tighten that up. For instance, against Sacramento Jefferson was asked to cover Brad Miller and Spencer Hawes. Miller is well past his prime, and Hawes is widely considered a bust. Nevertheless, against Jefferson, both Miller and Hawes somehow recorded ungodly Win Score 48s of 20.3. Miller came into the game with a career WS48 of 13.6, and most of those numbers came in the early part of his career. Meanwhile Hawes came into the game with a below average (for a center) career WS48 of 8.7. You just can't let guys like that be that productive. Yet that's what Jefferson's been doing, and its killing the Wolves.
4. The other guys who are down this season are Craig Smith, Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye, and Sebastian Telfair. Like Jefferson, they are all playing extremely poor defense. Unlike Jefferson, they are not producing exceptional offense. Most of the aforementioned Twolves provide either poor production or average production. Thus their WS48 deficits are much larger.
5. Please note that one of the Wolves who has actually provided a larger Win Contribution is the beleagured Corey Brewer. His offense has improved, and he's playing the kind of defense one would expect given his college resume.
6. If you notice the final column, the column that illuminates the difference between the TWCs made last season and this, you will see that at the moment the Wolves cumulative shortfall is -0.581. If you add that amount, in other words if you merely assume that the players on the roster provide the same Win Contribution they did last season... and that's not asking much considering the Wolves were a 21 win team... then their cumulative TWC would be -0.405. Over a full 19860 minute season, that number projects to a 36-46 record... a substantial improvement over last season -- JUST AS I PROMISED MY BROTHER.