Even though the Minnesota Timberwolves have a winning record, there may be budding turmoil between the players and head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Some may speculate the issue comes down to how many minutes their main players have logged for the infamously hard-nosed head coach.
The team currently has four guys in the top 10 for most minutes played this season, which doesn’t give the other players on the roster enough opportunity to showcase their talent.
Kevin O’Connor spoke about why it’s problematic for Thibodeau to play such a tight rotation in Minnesota (via The Ringer):
“You’re really disrupting the locker room. A lot of the guys in that bench who probably deserve to play, or thought that they have may have been getting opportunity and minutes, especially when there have been injuries? I’ve heard rumblings that there’s some chemistry issues in that locker room, maybe a little bit with guys against [Karl-Anthony] Towns a little bit because of his effort, maybe a little bit with some of the guys on that bench unhappy with playing time and opportunity. There’s issues there and it all, in my opinion, from what I can tell, derives from Thibs with the usage, with the system, with the opportunity.”
Others may wonder if there is a direct issue between Thibodeau and Towns, who played 38 minutes but took just six shots on Tuesday evening.
It’s especially concerning to watch a developing young star like Towns, who struggles on defense, run the floor so often without touching the ball.
The 22-year-old has covered more distance than any other center in the league and it’s not even close. He has recorded 59.5 miles and the next closest is Detroit’s Andre Drummond, who has logged just 51.9 miles.
Yet he averages just 6.1 paint touches per game, which ranks No. 23 among all big men in the league. During the podcast with O’Connor, co-host Chris Vernon speculated this could be the problem for Towns:
“I think you see this a lot with big guys. If you don’t get them involved and you don’t give them touches and they’re just running 94 feet after 94 feet, they can become disengaged. Usually the more they are engaged offensively, the more they will be engaged defensively.”
It’s entirely possible that while the players are being run into the ground, they are exhausted on the court. Meanwhile, it could lead to growing resentment toward the head coach.