Could Taj Gibson Unlock the Timberwolves Offense?

The takes have rained down since the Timberwolves not only traded for Jimmy Butler but also signed Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague in free agency. The joke going around has been that the Timberwolves look like a team built for the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals, an allusion to their perceived lack of perimeter shooting and spacing. Though Teague ostensibly was brought in over departing Ricky Rubio for his shooting, he is far from a volume 3 point maker. Teague has shot 35.5% for his career and has never attempted more than 3.5 3’s per game in a single season. Butler and Wiggins similarly live at the line, not downtown. And though Towns has a good stroke his value declines if turned into a glorified spot-up shooter.

So starting a power forward in Taj Gibson who is one of the few “traditional” fours in the league, ground-bound, and non-shooting – seemed like further evidence of Thibodeau's regressive thinking.

This is Thibodeau's first time running a front office, but his experience as a coach has clearly guided his team building philosophy. Thibodeau revolutionized NBA defense, particularly by popularizing the emphasis on “to 2.9”, the amount of time that a player can legally occupy the key before leaving or guarding an opponent. But he has been criticized for failing to keep up with other rapidly modernizing elements of the game, including playing players heavy minutes loads that some speculate lead to an increased likelihood of injury and what seems like a reluctance to embrace 3 point shooting as much as the rest of the league.

But there are signs that this might be changing.

In all likelihood, if you saw a Taj Gibson 3 point make last year, it was this one.