The Minnesota Timberwolves were the lucky winners of the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery, but as far as the pick is concerned, nothing is guaranteed.
Things are looking up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins is out, D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley are in. Oh, and they won the NBA’s Draft Lottery.
Yep, going into just his second season at the head of Timberwolves operations, Gersson Rosas and his front office will hold the first overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.
And most NBA fans? Well, they began photoshopping Anthony Edwards into a Minnesota uniform before the night of the lottery draft had concluded. This only spawned one hundred conversations about the horrendous defensive floor that would be a Russell-Edwards backcourt.
Which raises the question: Why isn’t anyone talking about Minnesota potentially dealing the number one pick?
The top three prospects in this year’s draft class are presumably two guards and a big man: Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, and James Wiseman. With Russell, Malik Beasley, Karl-Anthony Towns, and depth at those two positions otherwise, do any of those prospects make sense for Minnesota?
If not, why waste the number one pick on a prospect that’s just going to fall outside of the top three? Any of the teams in the bottom half of the top ten would be willing to add an asset on top of their first-round pick for the top selection; whether it be draft compensation or talent.
If we learned anything about the Timberwolves front office last year, it’s that they’ll do what it takes to keep Towns’ concerns of not competing at bay. The only playoff appearance of his tenure in Minnesota was during the infamous Jimmy Butler season, which wasn’t fun for anyone.
Towns expressed frustration at one point last year, ultimately leading to the Timberwolves flipping a number of guys at the trade deadline. This brought in Russell, Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters, who was later waived.
The possibilities behind trading the first overall pick should prove too tempting for Minnesota, provided they perform due diligence and shop it league-wide. Mostly, because the Timberwolves need to win, and it’s not certain they’ll find win-now help in a 19 to 21-year-old rookie.
As the team’s core is currently constructed, they’re relying heavily on players that are 24-years old or younger. Johnson (33) and forward Jake Layman (26) are the only players who are on the payroll beyond this season and will enter the year over the age of 25.
The Timberwolves need to use this pick on someone with more experience than that of a rookie.
The Timberwolves finished this year as one of the worst of the Western Conference teams, the 14th-best team in the west at 19-45. With eyes on appeasing Towns’ desire to win and all the pressure on second-year head coach Ryan Saunders, don’t doubt Minnesota will be active.
Even if it’s just trading back for a starter or potential All-Star, the Timberwolves should shop this pick around the league. Something along the lines of the deal below would make a lot of sense:
John Collins is a rim-running big who could potentially work with Towns in the frontcourt. He’s going into the final year of his rookie deal, but the Atlanta Hawks’ acquiring Clint Capela at the trade deadline implies they may not be sold on his future with the franchise.
Another plus? He can space the floor. Collins finished the regular season averaging 21.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks on an efficient 58.3/40.1/80.0 shooting split.
Towns is a 3-point shooter himself. Having two big men on the floor that can both space the floor could help to open things up on what is already slated to be a dangerous offense. On defense, Collins provides help along the perimeter, allowing Towns to contain the rim.
Another option? Maybe Minnesota includes James Johnson’s $16-million salary in talks with someone like the Orlando Magic, recently bounced from the playoffs:
It’s no secret that the Magic may look to trading Aaron Gordon this offseason, especially after being eliminated from the first round in five games at the hand of the Milwaukee Bucks. They’ve put together a strong core in Orlando, but there’s still something missing.
Could that be a point guard? DJ Augustin is entering free agency, and while Markelle Fultz has certainly improved in his rehab, he isn’t quite yet firmly a starting talent.
This 2020 draft class has a number of guards, including potential No.1 prospect LaMelo Ball. If the Magic were in love with the idea of Ball in a Magic uniform, it’s not crazy to think they’d entertain the idea of trading up and earning his draft rights.
Or maybe it’s Anthony Edwards the Magic have their eyes on. The former Georgia University Bulldog could help on the offensive end for an already-adept defense.
If word got around that the Magic were willing to trade up, look at that as a potential opportunity for the Timberwolves to pounce. As Orlando continues to look for a franchise point guard, exploring a trade for the first overall pick may prove a viable option.
It’s not a question of why, but for whom the Minnesota Timberwolves should ultimately deal the first overall pick for. Given their current state in both roster and franchise, making the most out of one of the NBA’s most valuable asset will be the top priority in an already crucial offseason.