Saunders’ new formula transforming into wins for Timberwolves

The talk surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves this summer was all about head coach Ryan Saunders and the plans he had in place to revamp his team’s offense.

Turns out he wasn’t messing around.

Seven games into Saunders’ first full season as head coach, Minnesota is playing fast and jacking up a ton of 3-pointers — just like Saunders promised.

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Minnesota is averaging 41.1 3-point attempts and 13.4 3-point makes per contest in 2019-20, the former of which is the third-most among all 30 NBA teams. Last year, the Timberwolves ranked 26th in the league with 28.7 attempts and 10.3 makes from downtown per game.

No team has seen a bigger jump in 3-point attempts from year-to-year (+12.4).

The new formula has transformed into four wins in seven games, and two were even played without the Timberwolves’ best 3-point shooter Karl-Anthony Towns on the floor.

Another factor to the wins is Minnesota’s ability to get out to quick starts. As a team, the Timberwolves are averaging a league-high 31.1 points in the first quarter as well as 4.3 3-pointers. Only the Milwaukee Bucks knock down more 3-pointers in the opening frame (4.9).

Towns himself is averaging 9.4 points per first quarter, which ranks third among NBA players. His previous career high was 7.5 back in 2016-17, his second year in the league.

The Timberwolves will continue to instill Saunders’ plans into the offense Friday night when they host the Golden State Warriors (2-6) — a team that will be without injured stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

NOTABLE

— Golden State has won 10 of its last 14 matchups with the Timberwolves. However, since the 2016-17 season, Minnesota is one of five teams with a winning record at home against Golden State (3-2).

— A second-round pick (41st overall) by Golden State in 2019, forward Eric Paschall ranks third among all rookies by averaging 30.1 minutes per game. He’s fourth in rookie scoring (17 points per game) and shooting percentage (56.8%).Paschall is knocking down 62.9% of his 2-point field-goal attempts, which ranks fifth among NBA players.

— Towns has tallied a double-double in 80% of his games (four of five). His career mark is 73.2%.

Statistics courtesy Sportradar, NBA.com