Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Timberwolves at Pelicans (11/1/17)

4, 11: Ranking for Minnesota and New Orleans, respectively, in offensive efficiency, out of the NBA’s 30 teams. The Timberwolves are averaging 107.2 points per 100 possessions (via NBA.com), a rate that is better than everyone except Golden State (league-leading 118.7), Orlando and Indiana. Meanwhile, both teams are in the bottom half of the league in defensive efficiency, with Minnesota clocking in at dead last by a fairly significant margin, allowing 113.3 points per 100 possessions. New Orleans is 21st at 106.0. If all of those trends continue, it should be a high-scoring affair in the first head-to-head meeting of 2017-18 between the Wolves and Pelicans.

3: Speaking of scoring in bunches, Wednesday’s matchup features three of the NBA’s top 12 individual point producers. DeMarcus Cousins enters tonight second in the league at 29.4 points per game, while Anthony Davis is fifth at 27.7 (Davis’ average would be 30.8 if not for two-point night at Portland due to injury). For Minnesota, second-year center Karl-Anthony Towns averages 24.1 points, good for 12th place in the league. In another sign of the imbalance between the conferences, eight of the current top 12 scorers are Western Conference players. The only East standouts to crack the list are Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 1), Kristaps Porzingis (third), LeBron James (ninth) and Kemba Walker (10th).

4-1: Minnesota’s record when Jimmy Butler plays. When the key offseason trade acquisition sat out a back-to-back Oct. 24-25 vs. Indiana and Detroit, the Timberwolves were pounded by 23 and 21 points, respectively, but they’ve fared very well in their other five games. Minnesota defeated Utah, Oklahoma City (twice) and Miami with Butler in action; his only loss while playing was back in an Oct. 18 season opener at San Antonio. Butler has not had a great offensive start to 2017-18 (16.2 points per game after three straight seasons of 20-plus with Chicago), but his impact on the defensive end could be very significant for the Wolves.

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