When picking outside the top 10 selections in the NBA Draft, the star players are usually long gone.
When your star player makes it clear that he has little desire to remain with your club, you probably could use a new star.
The Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves in a situation that encompasses both scenarios, and will likely be faced with a very difficult choice regarding their choice in the upcoming NBA Draft. Whether the selection brings a role player to assist their playoff hopes immediately (and the hopes of retaining Kevin Love), or the choice is to draft a player based on upside for the future, will give everyone an indicator of the direction of the franchise and whether they believe they still have a star in the fold.
Chalk me up as a supporter of scenario number two; I would love to see the Timberwolves take a player chock full of potential in this draft.
While I think Dario Saric would be an excellent selection at No. 13 in the NBA Draft, I also acknowledge that he could very well be gone at that juncture. With that in mind, I would like to see the Timberwolves pick a player who will likely be available when they are up to pick: Kentucky forward James Young.
Young, who will turn 19 in August, is one of the youngest players available for selection out of this year’s player pool. He possesses a potentially lethal offensive game, and has the tools to be a decent defender on the NBA level. Here’s an in-depth look at why he should be considered when the Timberwolves are on the clock.
Young can flat-out score.
As a player who is not a freak athletically, Young has learned to use his length and size to his advantage in driving situations. He can shoot over smaller defenders, and has strength to finish in the paint. He penetrates well, so getting to the free throw line should be something he can do at the next level.
In addition to his driving and slashing ability, Young is also an excellent shooter, a skill that the Timberwolves covet. He has three-point range, and although somewhat inconsistent from that distance, can hit the open ones. While that description may not set your world on fire as a fan, a penetrating scorer that can hit an open jump shot at such a young age has become somewhat of a rarity lately in the NBA.
In all, Young has the potential to be a real star scoring if given the time to grow. He could be a big piece for the future, especially if a certain power forward is dealt during this draft.
So Many Tools
As a 18-year-old draft prospect, the word potential will be thrown around concerning Young’s future; that much is inevitable. However, that potential is not all on the offensive side of the ball.
Young rebounds fairly well, but is far dominant on that end yet. In college, that’s where his defensive contributions ended.
The major concern for draft scouts is his defense, both on and off the ball. However, if one thing can be coached it is defense, and Young definitely has the tools to make it all happen as a pro.
With a nearly 7-foot wingspan, Young will have no problem contesting shots from backcourt players, and will hold his own against frontcourt opponents. He may never be a disruptive force in terms of steals and blocks, but with a reach like he has there is at least a hope that he could contribute in those categories.
Many of the other complaints about his defense come from his lack of focus or “basketball IQ” in off the ball situations. These are things that can be coached up to at least an adequate level, and it is rare for a player out of the draft to exhibit fantastic defensive skills.
Even if the defense fails to materialize quickly for Young, players like James Harden and Carmelo Anthony still lack defensive impacts in the NBA, but continue to play big minutes and at superstar levels offensively.
Young has the tools to be a good defender in the league, even if he is not a great athlete. He has the size with his length, and the room to improve at such a young age. The job will be for the coaching staff to get him prepared to play on that end of the floor after the draft.
Boom or Bust?
James Young could be one of the boom-or-bust players in this NBA Draft. However, at selection No. 13, the Timberwolves should look into taking the youthful forward if he’s left on the board.
At this point in time, a role player does very little for the Timberwolves chances at keeping Kevin Love or improving for life after him. Taking a shot on a higher risk player that is full of reward could be the way to jump-start a rebuild and get a scorer in place for the future.
At the very worst, the Timberwolves miss on Young; something the franchise has grown accustomed to over the years. Does it make missing on the choice any less painful? Absolutely not, but misfiring at pick thirteen when you will likely be seeing top 10 selections for the next few seasons is not nearly as painful as striking out in that spot, especially when few choices are ever locks. Young can at the very least fulfill the Timberwolves need for a shooter, and perhaps provide more than that down the road.
In the best case scenario the Wolves grab an extremely young scorer who can be a key piece on a team that desperately will need some scoring options. A guy with youth who can shoot is not exactly the worst thing in the world, and as a team who will likely be in the market for a new star fairly soon, the Timberwolves might as well take a guy who has the potential to be one offensively, even if he is a raw prospect right now.