5 Ways Minnesota Timberwolves have evolved into the best team in the West

How the Minnesota Timberwolves have emerged as the best team in the Western Conference.
Philadelphia 76ers v Minnesota Timberwolves
Philadelphia 76ers v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages
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Clogging the Lane

As Minnesota's opponents have found out the hard way, easy baskets in the paint are going to be scarce this season. As of November 30, the Wolves are 5th in opponents' field goal percentage less than 5 feet away from the basket. And when it comes to opponents' shooting percentage just outside the restricted area, only two teams (the Raptors and 76ers) have done a better job on defense than Minnesota.

""Our rotations and shot contests have to be on-point, and have been for the most part. One key for us this year is not relying on Rudy to do everything.""

Head coach Chris Finch told MinnPost.

While Finch is right to emphasize a team-oriented approach on defense, there's no question that the Stifle Tower is Minnesota's anchor on that end of the floor. Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, continues to be an elite rim protector, averaging 2.3 blocks and leading the league in defensive rating through the end of November.

To Finch's point, Gobert hasn't had to carry the burden of inside defense by his lonesome. Thus far, backup center Naz Reid has done a great job of helping secure the paint whether Gobert is on the floor or not. Mat Issa of Forbes has even pointed out that the Gobert-Reid combination on defense is a pretty potent one, so expect the Wolves to use this tandem against certain frontcourts.