With the NBA draft about two weeks away, it's time for Timberwolves Talk to unveil it's draft board!
Note: This board doesn't include Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio, who (barring an unforeseen trade) the Wolves have no shot at. With an unpredictable draft, everyone else in the player pool seems to be at least somewhat in play for the Wolves. (Griffin and Rubio would be 1 and 2 respectively if they were included, FYI.)
Tier 1-- I'm Psyched.
1. James Harden: Harden will almost certainly be gone by the time the Wolves pick, unless Thabeet goes in the top 3, Sacramento takes a point guard, and then Washington (or their trade partner) takes Jordan Hill. Unlikely scenario, but if it happens, Harden should literally be a no-brainer. He's probably the most efficient scorer in the draft. While not especially athletic, he's extremely skilled and crafty. He's a sniper from the outside, and he uses good body position and hesitation moves to get to the basket effectively. He's also long enough to be a pesky defender at the 2-guard position.
2. Stephen Curry: This is really like a 1b to Harden's 1a. I devoted a whole post to Curry, so read that for a long, probably boring ramble about Steph's place on the Wolves. Just know that I think he's a savvy, mature perimeter threat who can be efficient running an NBA offense. He actually will probably be available at 6. We shouldn't pass on him.
3. Jonny Flynn: Yes, I realize this is WAY higher than everyone else has him. But really, if you look at a lot of mock drafts, Flynn goes 7th to GS, 8th to NY, or 10th to Milwaukee. He hardly ever goes lower than that. So the Wolves wouldn't be reaching that much for him at 6. He's a pure point guard, he is adept at running the show on offense, and he's the kind of personality that becomes the vocal leader/heart and soul of a team. The Wolves don't really have one of those right now, and that's an underrated part of good teams. He's ultra-explosive, making him deadly in transition. But in the half-court, his drive-and-kick game is really impressive, and I think he'd work really well on that with Foye, Miller, Gomes, and Love. The Wolves are going NOWHERE without a starting-caliber point guard, and Flynn is an electric playmaker, and I think he'll be a border-line all-star PG. If Curry for some reason sneaks into the top 5, I think it's a mistake to abandon thoughts of addressing our point guard weakness until later in the round. Flynn is a top-shelf prospect, and would fit a desperate need.
Tier 2-- I'm dubious, but I'll give him a chance.
4. Jrue Holiday: He would address the point guard need, which I see as by far the number one priority in this draft, which is weak at everything but point guard. (Seriously, could it be any clearer that NOW is the time for the Wolves to land their point guard of the future?) But Holiday is one of those prospects that is all upside, no proven production. He was mostly a nonfactor all year at UCLA, and that concerns me. I really like the fact that he looks like a lockdown defender, because the Wolves' perimeter defense was awful last year. But I don't necessarily like spending a top ten pick on a player that hasn't shown an ability to score or run an offense. That said, he does have upside, and he does play defense. I'd give him a chance to win me over.
5. Tyreke Evans: Unfortunately, I can't shake the feeling that Tyreke is going to be our guy. He's a decent prospect. He's HUGE for a point guard, a jaw-dropping 6' 11" wingspan. And his team did well with him at the point. But everything points to him being a shooting guard. He had an unimpressive assist-to-turnover ratio, a bad sign against Conference USA. Scouts question his decision-making. He's universally described as "ball-dominant." The Wolves have enough ball-dominators in Randy Foye, Craig Smith, and Al Jefferson. His ball-dominance, combined with his putrid jumper, make him a bad fit for the Wolves. His tendency to overdribble, in my opinion, would make the offense even more stagnant and predictable, and his inability to make jumpshots would allow defenses to sag in on Al and Love more than they already do. He's only this high because, with his size and athleticism, there's an outside chance that he'll become a good enough player that none of that will matter.
6. DeMar DeRozan: See Holiday, add phenomenal athletic ability, remove part about addressing point guard need.
7. Brandon Jennings: See Holiday, add freakish quickness, remove part about lockdown defense.
Tier 3-- Noooo...
8. Hasheem Thabeet: I think this would end up being an Ndudi Ebi-like (okay, maybe not quite) waste of a first-round pick. Thabeet can block shots in college, but usually the weak layup attempts of short, unathletic guards. I saw all I needed to see when DeJuan Blair dominated Hasheem the Dream twice, pushing him around like a little brother. He disappears in big games, a la UConn's loss to Michigan State. His lack of offensive skills, toughness, and feel for the game make him virtually unable to positively impact an NBA game. He'll block maybe 2 shots in a game and alter 3 more. You're gonna spend a lottery pick on that kind of production, when there are dynamic, talented scorers and distributors to be had? The Wolves could use some length in the frontcourt; I know. They need someone taller than 6' 9" to include in the big-man rotation. But they do not need a starting center, especially one as unskilled as Thabeet. I think they can get exactly Thabeet's contribution from a mid-level free agent this summer. There will be a true center with mediocre talent available who they can sign on the cheap and give minutes to depending on the matchups. There won't be a young, talented point guard like Flynn or Curry.