Are the Timberwolves Ready To Trade?
Courtesy of the Utah Jazz obtaining a berth in the 2011-12 NBA playoffs, the Minnesota Timberwolves hold the 18th selection in the upcoming draft. For a team that missed the postseason, the Timberwolves showed a decent amount of progress during the lockout-shortened season prior to the injury to rookie point guard Ricky Rubio. After his injury, the season became a slow death, culminating in another long offseason.
Prior to the injury, Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman had plenty of time to evaluate his roster and who plays well alongside both Rubio and Kevin Love. After Rubio went down, the evaluation continued to see who, if anyone, was able to step up their game in his absence, staking their claim to a roster spot for years to come. The problem was that very few role players took advantage of the opportunity outside of Nikola Pekovic. Now, the Timberwolves have a very important offseason ahead of them.
With Pekovic taking the next step in his development as an NBA center, the Timberwolves have solid players in both post positions, pairing him alongside Love. With Rubio holding down the point guard position, it’s clear that Minnesota needs help at the perimeter spots. There will be a decent amount of players who fit that role at the 18th spot in the draft this year, but there are question marks surrounding most of them.
With the plethora of mock drafts out there, there are a wide range of predictions as to whom the Timberwolves will select in the draft. The plethora of NBA writers out there who create the mock drafts all see the same thing: the Timberwolves need the perimeter help mentioned before. Players such as Dion Waiters, Moe Harkless, Terrence Jones, Quincy Miller and even Royce White—a native Minnesotan—have been mentioned as the Timberwolves selection.
Dion Waiters was a fine player for Syracuse at the combo guard position. He has NBA range on his jumpshot and is a scorer, which is definitely something the Timberwolves need on the perimeter. He is an above-average defender, who takes chances at times to shoot into passing lanes or come from seemingly nowhere to get steals. A team can never have enough of that, especially a young team like Minnesota. However, at 6’4, his height is an issue because he’s undersized compared to most NBA shooting guards. Waiters will have a fine NBA career as a role player, but he seems to be another Randy Foye, a player whom the Timberwolves have a history. Also, Minnesota does not have a good track record of drafting Syracuse players. See Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson.
Moe Harkless out of St. Johns is a phenomenal athlete and has a lot of potential in the NBA. At 6’8, he has the size of an NBA small forward and has a knack for attacking the basket from the perimeter. Again, this is something the Timberwolves need desperately, but there are issues here as well. While Harkless can put his head down and get to the rim, he scores a majority of his points in the paint due to his still-improving jumpshot. He would be amazing in the full court running alongside Rubio, but in the half-court game, he would struggle to start his career at the NBA level. Minnesota does not need another player who is a combination of a small forward and power forward, as they already have plenty of those players on the roster.
Terrence Jones is coming off a national championship with Kentucky and he has experience playing with an above average inside presence in likely number one overall pick Anthony Davis. Like Harkless, Jones has great size at 6’8, is a lefty and can put the ball on the floor and attack. However, at 19-years old, he has a tendency to drop his head and show bad body language when things go badly. Obviously, there will be times in Minnesota where things aren’t going smoothly, so having a player with this tendency may not be the greatest thing. Also, like Harkless before him, there are questions as to which position he will fit into better at the NBA level between small forward or power forward. This is not an ideal selection for Minnesota.
Quincy Miller from Baylor is intriguing for Minnesota, as he has a knack for creating off the dribble and loves to hit midrange shots. This would be a fine fit in Minnesota as long as he would be able to continue to develop an outside shot. He is a fiery player who loves competition, but still has a long ways to go to build up an NBA-ready body. Inconsistent at the college level, although the highs were quite high, Miller will have early struggles to adjust to the NBA game and physicality of the players he will compete against on a regular basis. Minnesota can’t afford to bring in a prospect as they are trying to get better as quickly as possible. The clock began ticking the moment Love signed his contract extension.
The Timberwolves have plenty of options with their selection at the 18th spot in the draft this year, but the problem is that, while there are good players expected to be available at that time, none of them are great fits for what Minnesota needs. After the team hosted prospects this week, President of Basketball Operations David Kahn made it know the Timberwolves had already been involved in the normal conversations in their interest to trade the pick. Minnesota should have interest in looking to move the selection since there is not a great pick for them at that spot, but the pick has value.
There is a belief that a package of the number 18 pick in this year’s draft coupled with last year’s number two pick Derrick Williams could help the Timberwolves address some of the holes in their attack. Because of the value of the pick, Minnesota would not be doing their due diligence if they didn’t entertain the possibilities and listen to options, as well as make calls to other teams. After all, Minnesota fans are used to entertaining draft nights since Kahn took over.
Of course, all of this goes out the window should the impossible happen, as some mock drafts predict: if Austin Rivers somehow falls all the way to Minnesota at 18, he would look great in a Timberwolves uniform alongside Rubio and Love.