Lakers vs Timberwolves: Three deciding factors in the battle of youth

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Football News

The Los Angeles Lakers face the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight in a battle of two up and coming franchises. Before the campaign began, many tipped the Timberwolves to be in contention for a playoff spot, but it's the Lakers who have looked like a more cohesive unit.

Tom Thibodeau has struggled to get the best out of his players on the defensive end - something he specialised in with the Chicago Bulls - as they have stuttered to a 2-6 record, while Lakers head coach Luke Walton has installed some of the Golden State mentality into the young Lakers, who are currently sixth in the Western Conference.

It's extremely early in the growth of each team, but there is only one winner right now, and tonight's game will be a good barometer of where both organisations are at as they aim for future success.

Here are three factors that can decide the outcome of tonight's game.

Bench unit

The Lakers have the strongest rotation unit in the NBA statistically right now. It's not just the scoring, where Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson have been combining for an average of 31.5 points, but it's also the impressive defence of Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr. and Tarik Black.

Ingram has struggled on offence but has shown his worth to the organisation with some fantastic reading of the game to sniff out the danger. But looking simply at points, it could be a long night for the T-Wolves. The Lakers are averaging a huge 51.2 points compared to Minnesota's 25.5 - the 29th best in the league.

Three-point shooting

Coach Walton has brought the shooting mentality of Golden State to the Sunshine State, and it is paying dividends for the franchise.

They are shooting an impressive 34.8% from deep as a team and averaging 9.6 per night. D'Angelo Russell, Nick Young and Williams are all scoring at least two threes a game and are capable of catching fire at any moment.

However, Minnesota are no slouches. They current hold the best three-point percentage in the league at 40.8% and are dropping 8.9 each outing. Zach LaVine is averaging 2.9 a night and Andrew Wiggins 1.9.

Star power

With both teams made up predominantly of youngsters, there are mistakes being made, but there is certainly a lot of potential on the floor.

Coach Thibs can call on the two previous winners of the Rookie of the Year award - including the first unanimous victor in Towns. The Lakers have the two previous number two picks.

Wiggins, KAT, LaVine, Russell, Clarkson and Julius Randle are all being billed as future All-Star talent, and if any of the players can bring their A game then it can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Western Conference
Minnesota Timberwolves
Northwest Division
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division

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