Wolves know it's 'going to take time' to find rhythm defensively
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Headlined by Kevin Love, the Minnesota Timberwolves are armed with a variety of scoring weapons that could potentially make them one of the most potent offenses in the NBA this season.
One league analyst, ESPN.com writer and developer of the SCHOENE statistical projection system Kevin Pelton, even went as far to label the Wolves' offense as the fourth-most efficient unit in the NBA.
Regardless of how they stack up, there is not much debate the Wolves seemingly have the capabilities to score at a high clip. And they know that. The Wolves aren't worried about awakening their offense. Their concern lies elsewhere.
"We have the makings to be a really good offensive team, but defensively we're going to have to get better, one through 15," Love said after practice Tuesday, the day before the Wolves play host to the Orlando Magic in their season opener.
Minnesota ranked in the middle of the pack last season in average points allowed (15th in the NBA, 98.1 ppg). But according to BasketballReference.com, the Wolves finished 24th overall in opponent effective field goal percentage (51.1 percent), a statistic that weighs a 3-point shot heavier than a 2-point field goal.
It hasn't helped that the Wolves parted ways in free agency with Andrei Kirilenko, who was arguably Minnesota's top defensive player last season. Kirilenko, second on the team a year ago in steals (97) and blocks (62), tied with Ricky Rubio for the Wolves' highest defensive wins share rating, which estimates the number wins contributed as a result of a player's defense, based on Basketball Reference's analytics.
In Kirilenko's absence, Minnesota bolstered its defense with the addition of Corey Brewer, who excelled in a sixth man role last season with the Denver Nuggets. But it will take a refocused and concentrated effort throughout the lineup for the Wolves' to keep their defense from becoming a liability.
"We have to be consistent (on defense)," coach Rick Adelman said. "There's no reason you can't be a good team defensively. We have guys who have talent and who are smart. They just have to get out of their comfort zone and understand that is part of the game that we have to be better at and continue to be better at."
In turn, the Wolves are likely to undergo their share of defensive pains, which Adelman has admitted will be a gradual adjustment process.
"It ebbs and flows," Adelman said about his squad's defensive prowess coming out of the preseason. "We do drill work and what you want to do is take the drill work into the game. When the games are going on and you start struggling a bit you need to have continuous effort there. That's going to take time."