With 3 First Round picks and 5 overall, the TWolves have the opportunity to make some significant upgrades to their team. With the quality in this draft, even the unexpected moves can pay dividends immediately. Here is my look at what GM David Kahn is faced with this draft season:
Returning Players- Al Jefferson (C); Kevin Love (PF); Ryan Gomes (SF); Ramon Sessions (PG); Jonny Flynn (PG); Corey Brewer (SG/SF); Ryan Hollins (C); Wayne Ellington (SG); Nathan Jawai (C – Qualifying Offer)
Team Payroll (9 Players) – $36,174,594
Estimated Salary Cap – $56,000,000
Team Needs- Ricky Rubio; consistent scoring from the 2 and 3; frontcourt depth
Position Needs – SG, SF, PF, C
Picks – 1st Round (#4, #16, #23); 2nd Round (#45, #56)
Analysis- You know the jokes are waiting to be told – the Timberwolves are looking at 5 picks in the 2010 Draft. No jokes from me, but feel free to discuss amongst yourselves in the Comments section. So what can the TWolves do to gain some respect back? With 3 picks the First Round, the TWolves can go a long way to adding some of the necessary pieces to a winning team, whether by using the picks or trading any of them.
Having the #4 pick, the TWolves may be faced with a tough decision right away. Consensus seems to have the first three picks as Wall, Turner and Favors. After that, the TWolves will need to make a choice between DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Johnson. Cousins, the extremely talented big man, or Johnson, the ultra-athletic forward. While Johnson may seem to be a good fit, there is an argument to be made for picking Cousins. If Cousins improves his conditioning and his attitude, he would be a Top 10 Center his rookie year. Of course, the choice of Cousins would lead to a shift with the current lineup which could find former lottery pick Kevin Love as the odd man out. Johnson would provide a solid all-around player with top-notch athletic ability. While he should be more aggressive on the court, he still is an effective scorer, rebounder and defender. There really is no wrong choice here, unless you are a TWolves fan, then you are sure that whoever they pick will turn out to be a bad choice. As of right now, I am guessing that Johnson is the pick.
At the #16 spot, the TWolves have the opportunity to add another player who can have an instant impact on the team. If they were to take Johnson at #4, then I would look for them to address their frontcourt depth at #16, though their best bet of this happening would be if one of the group of power forwards bunched in the lower part of the lottery slip to this spot. The two players with which this is a possibility are Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton. Of the two, I project Orton to become a better all-around player, though Whiteside could provide a defensive presence immediately. The other possibility would be for the TWolves to address scoring and look at a player such as James Anderson, a shooting guard who is capable of scoring anywhere on the court and can immediately challenge for a starting spot. If Cousins is the pick at #4, I would look for the TWolves to go after an athletic wing player such as Gordon Hayward or Paul George, both of who can provide scoring and rebounding from the small forward position.
I would be surprised if the TWolves hold on to the #23 pick. With many teams desperate to move into the first round of the draft, the TWolves could secure some value for this spot. If they stay in this spot, they could look to draft an International player such as Kevin Seraphin, the monster power forward out of France who will most likely not come to the US until 2012.
With two second-round picks, the TWolves have the opportunity to reach a bit and secure some players with long-term upside. Some players who fit this profile who will likely be available between #45 and #56 are Charles Garcia, the enigmatic forward out of Seattle; Ryan Richards, a big man out of the UK who impressed at the Pre-Draft Camp; or Dwayne Collins, an athletic forward out of Miami who has the ability to play inside or out.
However this shakes out, this draft is so deep that it minimizes the amount of mistakes that can be made, which should come as a relief to the Minnesota fans.