Before the interview though, I want to say this:
Drafting Wes Johnson wouldn't be my first choice (or just about anyone else's, it seems)....but it wouldn't be the end of the world.
We've gone over his weaknesses in pretty fine detail at this point, so I want to highlight what his strengths are:
He can shoot. And yes, he's very largely a catch-and-shoot player, but still...50% shooting and 41% from three is pretty damn good for a college kid. If we bring Rubio over and run Wes around off the ball like Ray Allen, that might not be so bad
He's physically impressive. 6'7" with a 7'1" wingspan and 32" leap. His wingspan is, in fact, larger than (among others) Al Horford, Drew Gooden, Spencer Hawes, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. I've scoured the DX database and the reality is there's really not many players in the league right now with that combination of size, length and athleticism. The closest I found were Josh Smith and Richard Jefferson (6'8" with a 7'0" wingspans and 32.5" verticals) So Johnson does have a lot of raw physical potential to work with. This also gives him great upside defensively, if his head can catch up to his body.
He does fill needs of ours. He can't create his own shot, true, but he can shoot, which is obviously something we had next to nothing of last year. He's still highly skilled for a player with his physical tools compared to most of the league, and he moves the ball well, even though he can't take it with him very far.
None of this means I'd take him over Cousins or Favors. But we should remind ourselves that Johnson is still a very good player...he would help us in a number of ways that figure to translate into several more wins.
If we're really set on Johnson, I say take Cousins and use him as leverage with whatever team takes Wes. We could get some very lucrative offers from the Kings, Warriors or Pistons....if we take Cousins and trade him to, say, the Warriors for Johnson and Anthony Randolph? That wouldn't be so bad I think.
Jonah Ballow: Welcome to Timberwolves.com, I'm Jonah Ballow here with an exclusive interview with Wes Johnson, forward from Syracuse. Let's first talk about your college experience, you took a year off and then transferred to Syracuse. How important was that season when you made the move from Iowa State to Syracuse?
Wes Johnson: The year I sat out, I think it was really important, I think it helped me with my mindset more than anything and made me more prepared going into the season really sitting out learning the offense, learning the group of guys and developing my chemistry in practice, which carried over to the season I had last year.
| Wes Johnson with media
Jonah Ballow: What was the biggest difference? You put up some big numbers at Syracuse, you were the go-to scorer on that squad, what was the biggest difference when you made that leap into the Big East?
Wes Johnson: Really just the physicality of it, it is really night in and night out and you can't take nights off. I just think really with the team leaning on me a lot and playing with a great group of guys and I could play off them so really team chemistry was a big role in it.
Jonah Ballow: Now how does it feel to be a top lottery pick? You are projected to be at maybe No. 4 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but definitely in the top five. What is it like for you to be now considered with some of the top elite prospects in the draft?
Wes Johnson: It is definitely a blessing and a honor just to be amongst those guys and having the opportunity to be drafted where I'm drafted is a dream. It has been a fun experience up to this point, just coming in working out in front of this organization that I think is a great organization, especially with Jonny [Flynn] being here with great friendship and other than that it has been an honor and a blessing.
Jonah Ballow: Let's talk about that a little bit, Jonny Flynn, I mean I was talking to him earlier and he is ready for you to join him and make some Syracuse magic here in the Midwest. What would it be like to run alongside Jonny Flynn and the rest of these Timberwolves if you were selected at No. 4?
Wes Johnson: Speechless, especially playing with him and the group of guys that they have with Kevin Love and Al [Jefferson], and all those guys especially Corey Brewer, playing alongside him would definitely be a highlight film with both of us on the wings, but really it speaks volume if I could come here.
Jonah Ballow: Let's talk about your strengths a little bit, we know you are a big physical guy who can play multiple positions, what are you going to bring to an NBA team next season?
Wes Johnson: I will bring my versatility, playing inside and out could really help any team I could be drafted by but really just come to the organization and do what the team and the coaches tell me to do and then play with my strengths and have a great impact.
Jonah Ballow: What do you think you need to improve on not only in the next couple of weeks but next year in your rookie season?
Wes Johnson: Really just conditioning because 82 games and physical play will be my main focus. Anyone coming in to the draft sees that 82 games is no joke, so that's going to be the main difficulty along with the physicality of it.
Jonah Ballow: You were in a solo workout with the team here, a lot of eyes with the GM, the owner, Jonny Flynn on the sidelines, how was that process for you and how do you think you did for the Timberwolves?
Wes Johnson: Honestly I think okay, I did well, but I am my worst critic so I don't think I did as well as I wanted to, but other than that they said I had a solid workout but it was fun, it's is a little different playing in front of 30-40,000, and then you are the only person here playing in front of 50 people it was kind of nerve-racking, but it was fun.
Jonah Ballow: It is crazy to think, we are a little over a week away from draft night, what are your feelings and anticipation level leading up to June 24th?
Wes Johnson: Nerve-racking. Until that day, on the 24th until my name is called then I will have a sigh of relief, but until that day it will be nerve-racking. It is fun and the process is only a once in a lifetime opportunity, so it has been very exciting.
EDIT EDIT EDIT
I'm posting the post-Johnson workout interviews with Kahn and Flynn too, since they both just got put up on the youtube site