The Minnesota Timberwolves had a great roster in place. All they lacked was a veteran coach who could implement a strong defensive system. Then the T-Wolves checked that box when they hired Tom Thibodeau on April 20.
He will be filling the void left by the tragic death of Flip Saunders from Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 2015. Sam Mitchell held the job on an interim basis last season.
Thibodeau has had a successful coaching career so far. He has a lengthy resume, which includes being the associate head coach under Doc Rivers in Boston and an assistant for the Timberwolves, Knicks, Spurs, 76ers, Rockets, and Celtics.
Most recently, he had a successful five-year run as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, where he made the playoffs all five seasons and won NBA Coach of the Year in 2011. Thibodeau is best known for being a defensive mastermind, specifically against the pick-and-roll. The Bulls’ opponents averaged fewer than 100 points per game in all five seasons under Thibodeau — they even held opponents under 90 (88.2) in 2011–12.
Minnesota needs a veteran leader to guide their young core. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Shabazz Muhammad are all under the age of 25. Thibodeau, who has been coaching for nearly 20 years, knows the ins and outs of the NBA.
But more crucially, the T-Wolves desperately need help on defense. Minnesota ranked just 23rd in the NBA in total defense last year, allowing 106 points per game. Thibodeau is just the man to fix this problem. His presence will also greatly benefit the young Karl Anthony-Towns. The veteran coach has had success with big men in the past, including Kevin Garnett and Joakim Noah. He will help Towns fulfill his potential to become the best center in the NBA.
Thibodeau is in a great spot in the city of lakes. He will help develop the many young players on the T-Wolves, and he’ll improve the defense. In a few years, the Timberwolves will be a viable contender in the Western Conference.
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