Last season, at times, Minnesota looked like they were finally coming together as a team. Kevin Love continued to play at an All-Star level, and Ricky Rubio adjusted to the NBA quicker than most people believed. Add to that the surprise play of Nikola Pekovic in the 2nd half of the season and you can see the development of a nice core of players for the Timberwolves. Then, the injuries hit. Rubio and Love missed time and there was really no one there to step up. With New Orleans owning Minnesota’s pick at #10, the Timberwolves won’t have a selection until #18, but they should still be in position to add another quality piece. Let’s look at some of the Timberwolves’ options:
2011-2012 Record – 26-40 (5th in Northwest Division, Western Conference)
Head Coach – Rick Adelman
2-year Draft History
2011 – Derrick Williams (1st Round – 2nd), Donatas Motiejunas (1st Round – 20th – Traded to Houston with Jonny Flynn and a 2012 2nd Round pick for Brad Miller, the draft rights to 23rd pick Nikola Mirotic (traded to Chicago for the draft rights to 28th pick Norris Cole (traded to Miami for the draft rights to 31st pick Bojan Bogdanovic (traded to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2013 2nd Round pick and cash)), a 2014 2nd Round pick and cash), 43rd pick Malcolm Lee, and cash), 38th pick Chandler Parsons (traded back to Houston for cash) and a future 1st round pick.)
2010 – Wesley Johnson (1st Round – 4th), Luke Babbitt (1st Round – 16th – Traded to Portland with Ryan Gomes for Martell Webster), Trevor Booker (1st Round – 23rd – Traded to Washington with 56th pick Hamady N’Diaye for 30th pick Lazar Hayward and 35th pick Nemanja Bjelica), Paulao Prestes (2nd Round – 45th)
Returning Players- Martell Webster (SG), Darko Milicic (PF), Kevin Love (PF), Derrick Williams (PF), Nikola Pekovic (C), JJ Barea (PG), Wesley Johnson (SF), Luke Ridnour (PG), Ricky Rubio (PG), Anthony Randolph (SF- Qualifying Offer), Wayne Ellington (SG), Malcolm Lee (SG), Michael Beasley (PF – Qualifying Offer)
Possible Key Additions- Nemanja Bjelica (SF)
Team Needs- Perimeter shooting, Stronger defenders in post and perimeter, Quality backcourt depth, Wings that can attack basket
Position Needs –SG, SF, C
Picks – #18 (1st Round, Pick 18 – from Utah)
#58 (2nd Round, Pick 28 – from Oklahoma City)
NBA Draft Blog Analysis
With perimeter shooting and defense being weak areas, Terrence Ross could be a player who could step in and contribute immediately in both. Ross is a very good spot-up shooter, and with Rubio, if healthy, running the offense, the TWolves should be able to cover up the fact that Ross can’t create his own looks. They can also look to add a young, athletic wing, such as Moe Harkless or Quincy Miller, both of who are still developing, could give Minnesota someone who can attack the basket from the perimeter. Ross would likely be the best option of these 3 if this is the direction they choose, based on his shooting ability and defense.
Of course, this is Minnesota, and they can go in a completely different direction. The only position that they likely couldn’t find a value pick at #18 is point guard, so there are options available. Fab Melo, Andrew Nicholson and Arnett Moultrie may be available options if they want to look to add depth to the frontcourt, or they can look to possibly include this pick in one of the many draft-day deals that David Kahn loves so much. With that in mind, based on Minnesota’s recent history, I doubt that the #58 pick still belongs to them by the end of draft night.
Guest Analysis – Dave Kelsey (TWolves Blog)
It’s unfortunate that Kahn is still running our draft, as it’s quickly becoming very apparent that he has no clue as to what the heck he’s doing when it comes to judging actual NBA talent. Even though the #18 overall pick isn’t historically a pick that one can expect to come in and turn around the fortunes of a franchise immediately, this is an extremely deep draft. It’s possibly the deepest draft in many years. So there is an abundance of talent to be found if one knows where to look.
With all that said, I personally think the Wolves should bundle the #18 pick with someone like Derrick Williams, in an attempt to move up to the top of the draft. After Anthony Davis, I think the next tier of players #2-#5 all have about an equal chance of becoming future NBA stars, or at the very least, very good NBA core players for many years to come. There have been rumors about the Bobcats looking to move the #2 pick (which makes sense for them.) If the Wolves were to trade up into the Top 5 of the draft, a SG like Bradley Beal or a SF like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist makes a TON of sense for this squad. In fact, they make so much sense that I will guarantee right now that it’s not something that ever crosses Kahn’s mind. The Wolves have an enormous dearth of wing talent, a problem that has been plaguing the team for the past half-decade. With no exact ETA on Rubio’s return from his torn ACL, the Wolves backcourt situation will be a sad state of affairs to start the season. As the Wolves wing defense has been pitiful (at best!) the past few seasons, an ace defender such as MKG would do wonders for this team. The Wolves have needed an alpha guard that can create his own shot and get buckets in the most desperate of ways as well. Derrick Williams may or may not have some skills (to be determined), but the fact of the matter is that he just won’t ever get meaningful minutes playing behind Kevin Love. Therefore, a stud rookie wing is infinitely more valuable to the Wolves than a backup PF.
If Kahn is asleep at the wheel (still waiting for him to wake up!), there are some options available at #18 for the Wolves. It’s an incredibly deep draft. Moe Harkless, Terrence Jones, Royce White, Jeffery Taylor, Tony Wroten, Doron Lamb… the list goes on and on. And even though Jae Crowder and Evan Fournier are projected to be going much lower on the various mock drafts, the Wolves don’t pick again until pick #58. Since hoping for Kahn to trade back into the draft will only lead to depression and acts of suicide, I would not be opposed to the Wolves selecting one of those two guys at #18 either.
Regardless of what happens, I am hoping against all hope that we don’t get treated to another Kahn draft-day-special: which would be drafting any smiley player from Syracuse; or making 68 illogical trades that ultimately lead to Glen Taylor saving 6 million dollars and the Wolves drafting the rights to a 25 year old European player whose name I can’t even pretend to pronounce.