Jimmy Butler is one of the best defenders in the NBA.
He’s made the last three All-Star games, he’s been named to three NBA All-Defensive teams and he was voted to the NBA Third Team last season.
The Wolves, however, were not a very good defensive team last season. The team’s defensive rating of 112 ranked 27th in the NBA and the team allowed opponents to shoot 47.5 percent from the field, 28th in the league.
Butler, along with coach Tom Thibodeau, is trying to change that. It will be a process, but Butler isn’t afraid to be vocal about it with his new teammates.
“I love holding everybody accountable,” Butler said after Friday’s practice. “If you’re doing something wrong, it’s not personal if someone’s cussing at you and all that good stuff. Everybody just wants to be great here. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to end up at the top. I think that’s why you play this game.”
And if those teammates want to give Butler, the six-year veteran, the same treatment, he’ll accept it with open arms.
“If I’m doing something wrong, point your finger at me and tell me what I have to do better and I’m going to do the same thing to everybody else and that goes from players to coaches, coaches to players, whatever it may be. I think everybody has to be able to handle that.”
For the Wolves, the challenge, according to Thibodeau, is to be complete. Along with that, it’s being accountable for their play. Offense likely won’t be a problem for a team that scored 105.6 points per game last season and added scorers like Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Butler. But the challenge instead will be defensively.
“We have to improve quite a bit defensively, we know that, and that’s something we have to work at every day,” Thibodeau said. “But you have to be good at everything. If you want to be a playoff team, there’s a price to pay. There’s work that you have to put into it and you can’t take any shortcuts.”
The Fourth “Preseason” Game
The team will have an exhibition game Friday night against themselves. It will serve as their fourth preseason game and a run-through for the Target Center, which is set to have its first public event on Oct. 20 against the Utah Jazz.
“For us, we’re going to get a look at some different combinations, too,” Thibodeau said. “Essentially this will be the fourth exhibition game. It’s important for us. And just continue getting into the routine. Getting into the arena, going through shootaround. Continue to build.”