On the Clock: T’wolves & the 1st Pick
The draft and free agency are just around the corner, and the Timberwolves find themselves in a position they are way too familiar with. The first choice and numerous holes to fill. The top talent of this draft can be described as underwhelming, and there is no lock to be the first player chosen. So where do the T’wolves front office go from here? I’ve laid out some possible scenarios to help rebuild and compete in the tough Western Conference.
- LaMelo Ball: Considered to be the top PG prospect in the draft, Ball is a perceived fit at the first choice. They’ve been searching for a franchise floor general since they took Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with the two picks preceding Stephen Curry to the Warriors in the 2009 Draft. OUCH, though at the time, none of the “experts” batted at eye at the selections. Lamelo’s ball-handling and shooting abilities could open up space for KAT to operate in the paint, but it could also make things difficult for their ball dominant shooting guard D’Angelo Russell. At 6-foot 7-inches, Ball would provide plenty of size to play along side Russell, and surely would sell plenty of jerseys as the Ball family always seems to be a popular topic. Minnesota could fall into the trap of choosing a consensus top player who struggles at the next level, or luck into a future star here.
- James Wiseman & Anthony Edwards: Arguably the top two overall prospects, Wiseman and Edwards play the two positions that Minnesota can be considered to be highly competitive. KAT and DLO had been conspiring to team up, and at the trade deadline last year they did just that. Minnesota gave up Andrew Wiggins as well as their top pick next year (top 3 protected) to do so. Such an investment indicates they are all-in on these two being the building blocks of their future. Though either Edwards or Wiseman might end up being the right choice long-term, its hard to see either of them fitting with the stars that they already have.
- Trade down: Let’s be real. The NBA Draft can be a crap-shoot. Choices like Anthony Bennett and Markelle Fultz are examples of how some years it’s best to trade down if there is not a lock (ie: Zion, LeBron). Obviously this is easier said than done. If they do end up choosing this route, teams like the Bulls (Pick #4) and Knicks (Pick #8) could jump at the opportunity to take one of the top prospects. Though the Wolves are stuck in the loop of being a good not great team in the West, there are teams that would take their situation in a heartbeat. With an abundance of young talent on both their rosters, the Bulls or Knicks could look to add another young piece to grow their young core of talent. This could also allow for Minnesota to add a pick next year incase they lose theirs to the Warriors. Minnesota could still add a difference maker at the 4-8 spots that would compliment the stars they have.
At this point, the T’wolves are only a piece or two away from playoff contention, and nailing this draft could be all it takes to make that happen. They also have the 17th and 33rd picks in this draft so trade packages could come in various shapes and sizes. My best-case scenario? Trade down a few spots and get a player that can play now. Tyrese Haliburton screams PERFECT FIT here to me. Solid on the defensive side, and possesses play-making ability. He could fit nicely with D’Angelo Russell who has been known to lack effort on defense. Another trade down choice would be Deni Avdija out of Israel. A 6-foot-8-inch forward with shooting ability, he’s a sleeper to be the best player out of this draft when it’s all said and done. He could slip right into a starting role right away and ease the responsbility placed on Russell and Anthony-Towns. We’ll get our answers Thursday night as the NBA Drafts kicks off at 4PM EST.