World news – John Shipley: Timberwolves can’t shoot


The Timberwolves lost to the Philadelphia 76ers (118-94) at the Target Center on Friday, which is no surprise considering they were without two of their best players and last night in the Western Conference with 4- 17 started. The wolves have many problems. But for those who have seen all or at least most of their games this season, one stands out.

In a game where players get points for putting the ball through the hoop, then putting it together over 48 minutes and declaring the team with the most points the winner, that’s the only problem a team doesn’t would like to.

In Minnesota, however, this was a familiar story. The numbers tell the story, but the eye test will generally be enough.

Do you remember when Tom Thibodeau put three guys behind the bow hoping his drive wing could knock him out for an open 3-point shot? Do you remember when the open man was always Gorgui Dieng?

Now it’s Josh Okogie who was so ineffective from a great distance – 4 for 24 before Friday’s game, a 16.7 percent clip – that Golden State got him late in the 123-111 win Warriors covered Wednesday in Oakland, California.

It was a smart move. Okogie missed all four of his 3-point attempts and actually missed 6 of 7 total shots and 1 of 2 free throws to finish with three points.

Okogie is a good defender and knows how to play team basketball. He was also a first-round draft pick for a team that had needed shooters for years and scored 5.2 points per game. Number 1 last year Anthony Edwards shoots a total of 35.5 percent off the field, in large part because he misses some of his dunks.

This is Gersson Rosas’s biggest challenge in finding and signing players who can shoot. One of his biggest off-season moves, however, was bringing back Ricky Rubio, who can do anything but shoot (and is literally the team’s worst shooter).

It doesn’t help if Zach LaVine (27 ppg., 50.2 percent) and Lauri Markkanen (18.5, 48.5 percent) shoot and score big elsewhere. Thibodeau sent LaVine and the No. 7 (Markkanen) and Kris Dunn to Chicago for Jimmy Butler.

The Wolves were without their two best shooters, Karl-Anthony Towns (COVID-19 protocol) and Naz Reid (wrist) on Friday, but took an early lead when the 76ers missed their first seven attempts and the Wolves Catched Fire A point shooting better than 50 percent. It didn’t even take half.

The Timberwolves are a catastrophe without a KAT (2-16) and wouldn’t survive losing to Reid, who was the team’s best basketball player in Towns’ absence, knowing his role isn’t bad about shots or shots Defense fraud. But it was mainly because the wolves shot slightly worse (42.7) than their average (43.5), the third worst in the NBA.

A coach can design six dozen games to give a man an open shot. However, if the players can’t hit them consistently, his team will lose a lot more than they will win. In the 10 seasons leading up to this season, Minnesota finished eight times in the league’s top 10 worst shooting teams, finishing an average of 28.3 games under .500 during those seasons.

The Wolves took 12th place in the field goal percentage in 2017/18 – when Butler played with KAT, Andrew Wiggins and solid veterans in Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague – and reached the playoffs. They played Houston in the first round and worked hard for every basket. Under the leadership of James Harden, the Rockets inevitably got hot from 3-point range and won the series 4-1.

Basketball is a tough game when you can’t get open strokes, and it doesn’t have to be just from the 3-point range. There was a time when the biggest difference between NBA and college teams – outside of size – was that almost any NBA player could take a mid-range jump as if they were taking a free throw. It was far from automatic.

You can’t blame the Timberwolves. They stick to some of these games when they have no right to do so on paper. Effort, defense, intelligence, size, recreation. They are all good. Points are better.
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