Surviving Jimmy Butlers Injury
ผู้เขียน: | เวลา:2022-12-07 08:03 | เรียกดู:

Hashtag Basketball/Minnesota Timberwolves

Hashtag Basketball/Minnesota Timberwolves

Written byTyler Metcalf(@tmetcalf11) on 27 February 2018

After Jimmy Butler went down with a torn meniscus, the Timberwolves will have a lot of work to do to stay in the playoff picture.

After Jimmy Butler went down with a torn meniscus, the Timberwolves will have a lot of work to do to stay in the playoff picture.

On February 23rd Jimmy Butler collapsed to the floor holding his knee. Timberwolves fans collectively held their breath as they watched their star player get carried off after suffering the non-contact injury. The team was on their way to potentially finish with the franchises best record, contend for the three seed in the West, and snap the leagues longest 13-year playoff drought. As Butler collapsed and was subsequently carried off, the immediate thought for fans was the season was over as many painful memories surfaced from previous heartbreaking seasons.

After x-rays came back negative there was still fear that the ACL was torn and Butlers absence would end this season and carry over into next. The ultimate diagnosis of a torn meniscus was, while not good news, better than originally anticipated. It obviously is never ideal to tear anything but the meniscus has a few rehab options. The first option is to have the damaged part completely removed which creates a rehab timeline of four to six weeks and the second option is to completely repair the torn meniscus which would definitely end his season. We did find out on Sunday that Butler did go with the first option and the surgery went as well as could be expected.

The Timberwolves are currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a record of 37-26 which is only one fewer loss than the ninth seed Clippers. This team was constructed with the expectations of contention. As we head into the final stretch of the season here is what you need to keep an eye on as the Timberwolves look to survive the absence of Butler.

This has been an odd season for Towns as he has really tried to buy into the newly constructed roster and personalities. Towns has continued to prove his versatility on offense, and has shown strides of improvement and effort on defense. With Butler on the floor, Towns has been more passive than his skill set would suggest. It can be very common for possessions to run their course and he wont touch the ball or make a move to score. He frequently looks to facilitate out of the high post or make the extra, unnecessary pass or take too long to establish post position so the offense moves on and looks for a different action on the possession.

When Butler isnt on the floor though, Towns has proven to be more aggressive as his usage rate rises 2.5 percent. He also averages four more points and his true shooting percentage jumps to 66.5 percent. On offense, Towns will need to demand the ball, show his versatility, and carry the team for a few weeks. He wont have to worry about catering to Butler and can focus more on running his game. I expect to see his usage rate skyrocket which will not be negative like it is for so many other players.

Wiggins may have been the biggest beneficiary of Butlers arrival in Minnesota. His percentages are down across the board but he has shown a lot of improvement throughout his game this year. As a professional, Wiggins has been a bad defender as he has usually been matched up against the opponents best scorer and been roasted for it. This year that isnt the case as Wiggins has transitioned to guarding opponents second best wing as Butler focuses on the bigger threat. Learning from Butler has helped his overall awareness and he doesnt get caught ball watching nearly as often as he used to. His offensive responsibility has also changed a lot. Instead of being looked at as the primary wing scorer, he is now utilized more as a slasher and a weapon from three.

Removing Butler from the lineup will lead to Wiggins returning to the scoring role he had in previous seasons. In the past, this hasnt been the most efficient approach but without Butler this year, Wiggins has had some really nice games. These games include a 115-109 win over the Raptors where Wiggins scored 29 points on 61.3 true shooting percentage, a 126-118 win over the Clippers with 40 points on 63.5 true shooting percentage, and a 122-104 win over the Bulls with 23 points on 60.9 true shooting percentage. Despite Wiggins percentages being down this year, his shot selection has actually improved from prior seasons. He has focused on avoiding the inefficiency of deep two-point jumpers and more on getting to the rim and shooting from beyond the arc. This has also lead to him getting better shot selection as 44.9 percent of his shot attempts come when he is open (closest defender is four feet or farther away) which is up from 36.7 percent last year. Wiggins will need to continue to focus on smart shot selection and what he has excelled at this year (cutting, posting-up, and catch and shoot threes) despite the change in role.

The lack of variety in the Timberwolves lineups this year has been a constant point of frustration for fans. The starting lineup has tallied 946 minutes this year which is by far the most out of any five-man lineup in the league. The starters are a major part of how the team performs as no starter averages fewer than 33 minutes a game with Butler leading the way with 37.1 minutes per game. After the first game without Butler, Nemanja Bjelica was placed in the starting lineup and recorded 32 minutes which is double his season average. It appears that instead of diversifying minutes among the bench, Thibs is taking a next-man-up approach and plugging Bjelica in for essentially the same amount of minutes. This lineup has only seen 95 minutes together this year but has been relatively effective during that span. They have recorded an offensive rating of 117.8, a defensive rating of 111.9, and a rebounding percentage of 57.1 which is a team high among five-man lineups that have played over 50 minutes.

More concerning though will be the lineups and tactics the team uses in late-game, clutch situations (score is within five points with five minutes or less remaining). Butler has been the major focal point for the Timberwolves in these situations. He has a usage rate of 41.9 percent which is the seventh highest in the league for players with more than 20 games. The game-plan often deviates away from ball movement and more towards either exclusively Butler isolations or pick-and-roll with very limited ball movement. It isnt uncommon for Butler to not just be the only one that takes a shot attempt but also the only one to touch the ball late in games. There have been many examples of this leading to wins for Minnesota this year but now we will likely see the side effects of this. I would assume that Wiggins will likely take over this role with a heavy dose of Towns. The issue with this though is that Wiggins isnt great in isolation or as the pick-and-roll ball handler. In isolation situations, Wiggins averages just .663 points per possession which puts him in the 16th percentile. As the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations, he still doesnt dazzle as he averages .801 points per possession which puts him in the 46th percentile. The best bet for the Timberwolves late in games will likely be for Teague to run the pick-and-roll with Towns and look for Wiggins cutting off the ball where he averages 1.56 points per possession which puts him in the 93rd percentile. The Timberwolves have a huge role and a lot of minutes to fill in Butlers absence. In order to stay afloat, they will need to continue to build on what theyve done well all season and not try to reinvent themselves on the fly.

To date, Minnesota has played the most games in the NBA which would suggest they would have a nice end to the season. The way their schedule is laid out though proves the opposite. Over their final 19 games, they have four back-to-backs and an eight-game stretch against the Trail Blazers and Jazz (back-to-back), Celtics, Warriors, Wizards, Spurs, and Rockets (back-to-back), and Clippers. These will a grueling stretch of games that they will need to pull a few wins out of in order to stay alive. After this eight-game stretch, the schedule eases up a bit. They only play three playoff contenders (76ers, Jazz, Nuggets twice) over their final ten games. The fight for the three seed is likely over but if they can survive this upcoming, brutal eight-game stretch and win at least six of their final ten games they should still be able to break the leagues longest playoff drought of 13 years.

The loss of Jimmy Butler is devastating to a franchise that has had a lot of low points over the years. They were in the fight for the three seed and had an outside shot of 50 wins. Now their focus has to change to stay in the playoff race. It is time for their young stars of Towns and Wiggins to really step up and take on a major workload. The season isnt over by any means but there is still a lot of work to do for the NBAs longest playoff drought to be snapped.

On February 23rd Jimmy Butler collapsed to the floor holding his knee. Timberwolves fans collectively held their breath as they watched their star player get carried off after suffering the non-contact injury. The team was on their way to potentially finish with the franchises best record, contend for the three seed in the West, and snap the leagues longest 13-year playoff drought. As Butler collapsed and was subsequently carried off, the immediate thought for fans was the season was over as many painful memories surfaced from previous heartbreaking seasons.

After x-rays came back negative there was still fear that the ACL was torn and Butlers absence would end this season and carry over into next. The ultimate diagnosis of a torn meniscus was, while not good news, better than originally anticipated. It obviously is never ideal to tear anything but the meniscus has a few rehab options. The first option is to have the damaged part completely removed which creates a rehab timeline of four to six weeks and the second option is to completely repair the torn meniscus which would definitely end his season. We did find out on Sunday that Butler did go with the first option and the surgery went as well as could be expected.

The Timberwolves are currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a record of 37-26 which is only one fewer loss than the ninth seed Clippers. This team was constructed with the expectations of contention. As we head into the final stretch of the season here is what you need to keep an eye on as the Timberwolves look to survive the absence of Butler.

This has been an odd season for Towns as he has really tried to buy into the newly constructed roster and personalities. Towns has continued to prove his versatility on offense, and has shown strides of improvement and effort on defense. With Butler on the floor, Towns has been more passive than his skill set would suggest. It can be very common for possessions to run their course and he wont touch the ball or make a move to score. He frequently looks to facilitate out of the high post or make the extra, unnecessary pass or take too long to establish post position so the offense moves on and looks for a different action on the possession.

When Butler isnt on the floor though, Towns has proven to be more aggressive as his usage rate rises 2.5 percent. He also averages four more points and his true shooting percentage jumps to 66.5 percent. On offense, Towns will need to demand the ball, show his versatility, and carry the team for a few weeks. He wont have to worry about catering to Butler and can focus more on running his game. I expect to see his usage rate skyrocket which will not be negative like it is for so many other players.

Wiggins may have been the biggest beneficiary of Butlers arrival in Minnesota. His percentages are down across the board but he has shown a lot of improvement throughout his game this year. As a professional, Wiggins has been a bad defender as he has usually been matched up against the opponents best scorer and been roasted for it. This year that isnt the case as Wiggins has transitioned to guarding opponents second best wing as Butler focuses on the bigger threat. Learning from Butler has helped his overall awareness and he doesnt get caught ball watching nearly as often as he used to. His offensive responsibility has also changed a lot. Instead of being looked at as the primary wing scorer, he is now utilized more as a slasher and a weapon from three.

Removing Butler from the lineup will lead to Wiggins returning to the scoring role he had in previous seasons. In the past, this hasnt been the most efficient approach but without Butler this year, Wiggins has had some really nice games. These games include a 115-109 win over the Raptors where Wiggins scored 29 points on 61.3 true shooting percentage, a 126-118 win over the Clippers with 40 points on 63.5 true shooting percentage, and a 122-104 win over the Bulls with 23 points on 60.9 true shooting percentage. Despite Wiggins percentages being down this year, his shot selection has actually improved from prior seasons. He has focused on avoiding the inefficiency of deep two-point jumpers and more on getting to the rim and shooting from beyond the arc. This has also lead to him getting better shot selection as 44.9 percent of his shot attempts come when he is open (closest defender is four feet or farther away) which is up from 36.7 percent last year. Wiggins will need to continue to focus on smart shot selection and what he has excelled at this year (cutting, posting-up, and catch and shoot threes) despite the change in role.

The lack of variety in the Timberwolves lineups this year has been a constant point of frustration for fans. The starting lineup has tallied 946 minutes this year which is by far the most out of any five-man lineup in the league. The starters are a major part of how the team performs as no starter averages fewer than 33 minutes a game with Butler leading the way with 37.1 minutes per game. After the first game without Butler, Nemanja Bjelica was placed in the starting lineup and recorded 32 minutes which is double his season average. It appears that instead of diversifying minutes among the bench, Thibs is taking a next-man-up approach and plugging Bjelica in for essentially the same amount of minutes. This lineup has only seen 95 minutes together this year but has been relatively effective during that span. They have recorded an offensive rating of 117.8, a defensive rating of 111.9, and a rebounding percentage of 57.1 which is a team high among five-man lineups that have played over 50 minutes.

More concerning though will be the lineups and tactics the team uses in late-game, clutch situations (score is within five points with five minutes or less remaining). Butler has been the major focal point for the Timberwolves in these situations. He has a usage rate of 41.9 percent which is the seventh highest in the league for players with more than 20 games. The game-plan often deviates away from ball movement and more towards either exclusively Butler isolations or pick-and-roll with very limited ball movement. It isnt uncommon for Butler to not just be the only one that takes a shot attempt but also the only one to touch the ball late in games. There have been many examples of this leading to wins for Minnesota this year but now we will likely see the side effects of this. I would assume that Wiggins will likely take over this role with a heavy dose of Towns. The issue with this though is that Wiggins isnt great in isolation or as the pick-and-roll ball handler. In isolation situations, Wiggins averages just .663 points per possession which puts him in the 16th percentile. As the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations, he still doesnt dazzle as he averages .801 points per possession which puts him in the 46th percentile. The best bet for the Timberwolves late in games will likely be for Teague to run the pick-and-roll with Towns and look for Wiggins cutting off the ball where he averages 1.56 points per possession which puts him in the 93rd percentile. The Timberwolves have a huge role and a lot of minutes to fill in Butlers absence. In order to stay afloat, they will need to continue to build on what theyve done well all season and not try to reinvent themselves on the fly.

To date, Minnesota has played the most games in the NBA which would suggest they would have a nice end to the season. The way their schedule is laid out though proves the opposite. Over their final 19 games, they have four back-to-backs and an eight-game stretch against the Trail Blazers and Jazz (back-to-back), Celtics, Warriors, Wizards, Spurs, and Rockets (back-to-back), and Clippers. These will a grueling stretch of games that they will need to pull a few wins out of in order to stay alive. After this eight-game stretch, the schedule eases up a bit. They only play three playoff contenders (76ers, Jazz, Nuggets twice) over their final ten games. The fight for the three seed is likely over but if they can survive this upcoming, brutal eight-game stretch and win at least six of their final ten games they should still be able to break the leagues longest playoff drought of 13 years.

The loss of Jimmy Butler is devastating to a franchise that has had a lot of low points over the years. They were in the fight for the three seed and had an outside shot of 50 wins. Now their focus has to change to stay in the playoff race. It is time for their young stars of Towns and Wiggins to really step up and take on a major workload. The season isnt over by any means but there is still a lot of work to do for the NBAs longest playoff drought to be snapped.

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