Timberwolves looking to improve on 3-point shooting

BY foxsports • September 29, 2016

The Minnesota Timberwolves have ranked among the NBA's 10 worst 3-point shooting teams for each of the past five seasons.

New coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau is looking to change that.

The first-year boss said the Timberwolves need to close the gap in 3-point shooting with their opponents. He noted that Minnesota's opponents made an average of over nine 3-pointers each game, whereas the Timberwolves only made 5 1/2 per game last year.

"We're just trying to get a lot more (3-pointers) up, and we're capable of it," guard Zach LaVine said. "We have a lot of shooters on our team that can shoot and will shoot, so it's just a different philosophy."

Among those shooters is veteran guard Brandon Rush, who has shot 40.3 percent from 3-point range over his eight seasons. The team also returns forward Nemanja Bjelica, who shot 38.4 percent from 3-point range last season, including 48.3 percent in 14 games after the All-Star break, and LaVine, who shot 43.7 percent in 28 games after the break. In addition, Minnesota drafted Kris Dunn, who shot 37.2 percent from 3-point range as a senior at Providence.

Timberwolves players 3-point percentages 2015-16

Player 3PM 3PA 3P% Notes
Cole Aldrich 0 0 0  
Nemanja Bjelica 0.8 2.1 38.4  
Gorgui Dieng 0.1 0.2 30  
Kris Dunn 1.3 3.4 37.2 College stats
Jordan Hill 0 0 0  
Tyus Jones 0.4 1.4 30.2  
Zach LaVine 1.5 3.9 38.9  
John Lucas III 0.4 1.4 31  
Shabazz Muhammad 0.5 1.9 28.9  
Adreian Payne 0.2 0.6 28.1  
Nikola Pekovic 0 0 0  
Ricky Rubio 0.8 2.5 32.6  
Brandon Rush 0.9 2.2 41.4  
Greg Smith 0 0 0  
Karl-Anthony Towns 0.4 1.1 34.1  
Andrew Wiggins 0.7 2.3 30  

They could help they Timberwolves break out of a five-year rut as one of the NBA's worst 3-point shooting teams. Minnesota last ranked in the top 10 in 3-point shooting in 2010-11, when Kevin Love and Michael Beasley were the top scorers and Kurt Rambis was coach. The Timberwolves have ranked no better than 23rd in the league in 3-point percentage since.

The team's 3-point attempts have decreased, too, from a high of 21.6 per game in 2011-12 to 16.4 per game last year. That ranked 29th in the league.

Timberwolves 3-point shooting since 2011

Year   3PM 3PA 3P%
2015-16 Timberwolves 5.5 (29th) 16.4 (29th) 33.8 (T-25th)
  League Average 8.6 24.3 35.3
2014-15 Timberwolves 5 (30th) 14.9 (30th) 33.2 (25th)
  League Average 7.9 22.4 34.9
2013-14 Timberwolves 7.3 (17th) 21.4 (T-17th) 34.1 (26th)
  League Average 7.7 21.5 35.9
2012-13 Timberwolves 5.5 (28th) 18 (T-21st) 30.5 (30th)
  League Average 7.2 20 35.8
2011-12 Timberwolves 7.2 (T-Ninth) 21.6 (Sixth) 33.2 (T-23rd)
  League Average 6.4 18.4 34.7

Thibodeau said he wants his team to take good shots and play to its strengths, which include layups and getting to the free throw line.

"We got to take the right shots, and we got to make the extra pass, but we have to get pressure on the rim to force the defense to collapse," Thibodeau said. "If we do that, we'll get good rhythm 3s."

The team doesn't necessarily need to rank in the top 10 in 3-point percentage. But an improvement out of the bottom tier would certainly be welcome.

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