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A Summer in (P)Review


Well now that the draft has gone by and we have some semblance of balance to our roster, I'll give my review of the draft (With grades!) and provide some options to preview the rest of the summer. Where I would go from here if it was up to me (obviously most of what I say won't be remotely close to what happens as I don't have the luxury of talking to the league's GMs like Kahn does... also I'd have Fernandez right now, not Webster). Anywho, here goes!

Starting from the Four: B-

Wesley Johnson. Not at all a fan of the use of the fourth pick. As has been gone over many times, it was a waste of assets and it would have made much more sense to pick Cousins and deal him. Maybe from a GM's point of view, it's better on his legacy to pass over a superstar than to pick and trade him for a role player? Who knows. Value was left on the table and I'm not ok with that. Kahn is covering his butt by saying that Petrie would have taken Wes and been fine with it. That's simply not true of any good GM in the league, which Petrie is. I'm sure Kahn called him up and asked and Petrie said they were fine with Cousins hoping he would fall. If we had taken Cousins he would have been the first GM on the phone with us. A cool million dollars or a future second round pick. That's all. Then you save a bit more cap space for the next four years.

On another note, I am putting my full faith in Kahn that they know something about Cousins that I don't. Maybe when Calipari isn't on the national scene he is bad mouthing Cousins and saying he doesn't have a work ethic. It would make sense because he would be honest to the GMs and still be a reliable source, yet would not jeopardize his recruiting process. So Wes Johnson it is. Personally, I think he'll be a verge allstar for his career. Here's hoping I'm wrong!

 

The Sixteen: C

Martell Webster. Well as I said, I would have gotten Rudy Fernandez. But again, here's hoping Kahn and Rambis know something about his development that I don't. That he's worth that much more than Fernandez (cap-wise and asset-wise) even with the Rubio connection. I don't see it. But they obviously like him for a reason and hopefully it's a good one. He does fit well with what we are hoping to do and hopefully Rambis can work with our SFs and develop their "weaknesses", which are almost all their ability to create offense.

I do find it a little annoying that Kahn seemed to have blatant disregard for our cap space that he had talked up so nicely. We pay Webster more than we would have paid a rookie and cutting Gomes. On another money note, the production per dollar has been proven to be quite a bit higher for rookie contracts than any other contracts (don't remember where I saw this, but it was a nice chart of production per dollar of different levels of contracts, if anyone knows where that is, a link would be much appreciated!). So we traded away potentially better/cheaper production to get a guy who might be able to finally break through his developmental slump. Once again, hopefully they know something I don't. But as has been said, I feel at the very least they should have gotten a future second rounder for Ronzone to play with.

The Twenty-Three: B+

30 and 35. I would have given this an A had there not been a better deal for the 24th pick. But I still like the value here. We also gave up our last second rounder, but that's not a terrible thing. Basically it would have given us first choice at guys we wanted for our Summer League Team.

Lazar Hayward: N/A

It was a reach. Who knows what kind of a market there was for Lazar. If they thought someone was going to take him with the 33rd pick, then I'll give them an A for going out and getting their guy. If they heard nothing about this and they still took him 30 picks higher than some mocks had him, they get an F for a bad value pick again. Seriously, how much value do you think they could have gotten for moving down even 15 picks for him? Get out of Hollins' contract? At least. Someone would have done it for Whiteside and the Clippers might have done it for Warren if they really wanted him but thought he was going higher than he did. This would also have helped us facilitate that deal with Miami if we had known we would have the 30/35 and also gotten rid of Hollins. Do that deal, trade for the Miami pick and take on some salary. Then trade Hollins and 30 for 45. That simple. Boom. Value maximized. F if there was as much of a market for Lazar as projected. Actually, I think I'd still rather get rid of Hollins and move down to 45 as there had to be someone else they were high on. If they think he is a future starter I guess I'm ok with it... Anyways, moral of this is that it depends on how much value they left, which I assume was quite a bit. I like the guy though. Good pickup, bad value (seems to be a trend).

Nemanja Bjelica: N/A

I think it was a good idea to take him at 35, so I'll say they probably didn't leave any value on the table. He was at the draft, after all. I can only assume it's not because Kahn guaranteed they would take him at 45. Even if Bjelica never pans out, he was a good risk to take. So I'll say at worst they get a C for this trade and most likely a B+ or A- unless he turns ino a starter, then an easy A. Personally I think he is destined to be a PF, but wouldn't it be nice if he could play PG or SG (I would have said SF before the draft...)??? He'll need some time in the weight room, but it sounds like he is well aware of that. I like players who can recognize their shortcomings and admit they need to work on them.

 

Pick Forty-Five:

Paulao Prestes: N/A

I guess I have no idea how good the guy is, but I'm guessing this is a B at best. Could be an A, but it could also be an F... which is rare for a pick this low. I'm of the mindset that you absolutely HAVE to take Willie Warren at this point in the draft. He dropped. Quickly. I've said it before, but I think he benefitted a lot from having a dominant low post player on his team. Enter Al Jefferson. We keep both of them for another year and by surrounding Willie with some better inside players, his value goes up and even if we don't want to keep him, you have to think he is at least worth an early second rounder next year... at least. If he turns into Foye, GREAT! That's not even his upside though. As another advantage, he was a decent shooter when he had a big who could take some pressure off so maybe he and Al would make a nice combo (Trio? With Wes or Webster). Both of their values go up, not just Warren's. I'm not knocking the Prestes selection by any means, but oce again, you HAVE to take Warren here. A potential lottery pick last year who suffered this year for some nonbasketball (and some basketball) related issues, IIRC? At 45? Yes, please. Also, as a sidestory, we have the Clippers who would probably not mind having Warren or even paying a little extra for him if Blake Griffin says so. Once again, we can get a million from them and their pick where Prestes will likely be available. He looks like a big body though who gets his work done by making guys move away from where he wants to be. Kind of funny to watch him just move guys out of his way in his highlight videos.

 

AFTER THE DRAFT!

Moving Big Al? Well I'm sure many of you know I was a BIG advocate of trading Jefferson for about 2 seasons now. And now that Kahn is finally on board with me, I don't want that anymore. Think about it. Jefferson is the perfect player to play an inside outside game with some good shooters. We start the season by pounding the ball in to Big Al and letting him go to work. Wes and Webster (and Ellington, Love, Flynn, and Brewer) sit outside and knock down the open shots when he gets double teamed. All of a sudden Big Al is averaging 18/11/4 just by passing out of a double team a couple more times a game with shooters who can knock down the shots and we've got more than just a bad contract that might net a decent expiring. Add to that that we might have some semblence of defense next year and BAM! Jefferson's flaws? Covered. His weaknesses? Minimized.

If all we can get out of Big Al is an expiring contract, then no thanks. I'll hold on to Jefferson if we're actually going to play to his strengths this time around. Worst case scenario, he doesn't help any and we move him for an expiring at the deadline. Most likely case, we only have him for one year after an expiring before he becomes an expiring himself. So if we don't trade him, we get more production out of him for two years than we would for an expiring for one year anyways and then trade him when he is an expiring. Best case, they help a ton and Jefferson's value goes up immediately and we can swap him this year for a better fit. We can attribute his improvement to his knee and tough offseason work and hope nobody notices that it's just because we are hiding his weaknesses. Wait... no the best case scenario is that he actually does get better due to offseason work and injury improvement and he becomes an allstar and a good defender. Ok no it's not. The best case was the one before that.

 

Darko and Pekovic:

Well, I'd rather get Pekovic than trade him for something like the 14th pick as was suggested, but it's also tough to pair him with Darko, Jefferson, and Love. I'd prefer to bring Darko back as I do like what he brings in terms of passing and defense. As I said above I'd also prefer to keep Jefferson for a while. Sooo, my plan is to talk to Pekovic and see if he would be ok with coming next season instead. If not, I guess try to figure out the best deal for him. If there aren't any deals, don't sell low and instead force him into the lineup. Four bigs should not be too hard to work with. Especially since Pek most likely projects to be a high foul 15-20mpg type. Make it work. Trade him after a year which I expect his value to be higher than it is right now.

  

Cap Space:

Positions to address: SG, C

Shooting Guard: We obviously are lacking any real starters at SG. We could play Ellington, Brewer, Webster, or even Johnson there. But these are short term solutions at best. Then again, so is everything that could be addressed in FA. JJ is the only answer that would be longterm, but he's not the right age group for us when we are hopefully competing. Childress is a good option and could probably even play SG, but it's not a long-term solution. As a SG/SF, yes. But not with our current lineup. So either Kahn has to move some of our SFs around or Childress is more or less off the table. But the question, is Johnson/Webster/Bjelica a SF trio that wins championships? Who the bleep knows? It all depends on how they turn out, but I don't see Kahn messing with the SF position this offseason because he thinks Webster can play the 2 and Bjelica might be able to as well. So I basically just propose that we roll with Brewer/Ellington/Webster at the SG this year unless a trade target comes along in a S&T or at the deadline. If we sign anyone, I hope it's Mike Miller. But I just don't see how he fits. I suppose we could always sign him and make sure we use our other guys to upgrade or include with Jefferson (SnP has been saying Jefferson + Brewer is likely).

Center: Our only true C is Darko and I don't believe he can work as the only true center with Jefferson/Love/Pekovic. We need an uptempo player who can block shots. Someone who can guard the stretch bigs. Options include Bosh, Amare, Tyrus Thomas, Amir Johnson, Tyson Chandler (if he terminates his option), and Hakim Warrick.

Good options out of there, obviously you go after the big names first though I don't know if I would be ok with us offering Amare a max contract. So unless Bosh is willing to sign, we are left with the next four for options. I'd cross Warrick off the list, though he would fit nicely, just not as a long term solution even as a 4th big. Tyson Chandler is getting a little old, but he would be ideal if we could sign him for about $8M... which at his age and injury concerns is still overpaying. I've recently said that I'd prefer Amir Johnson over Thomas because of the likely price tags being attached to each. For the same price, I'd obviously prefer Thomas, but I don't see him coming to MN (or any team) without a massive overpayment (Eric in Madison suggested an average of $10M to get him).

 

So my... I don't want to say ideal, but given our situation my realistically ideal lineup is this:

Flynn/Sessions (yes, I'll even say we should start Flynn to get some chemistry going as he is the more likely long-term PG for us... though as a backup and Wes likes him so maybe they'll work well off of each other and Flynn will actually pass to Johnson)
Webster/Ellington/Bjelica (I'd prefer he plays for Barca for a year... but that's unlikely. Wolves are my second preference)
W.Johnson/Brewer/Bjelica
Jefferson/Love/Bjelica/A.Johnson
Darko/A.Johnson/Jefferson

 

Things for Kahn to learn:

-Maximize your assets, go after and get your guy, but MAXIMIZE YOUR ASSETS

-Stop pretending people who can't play together can

-If you have to justify your picks, you probably made the wrong pick (i.e. Flynn, Webster, Lazar, Johnson... oh yeah...)

-How to use capspace (look at all the picks that were available)

-Play nice with the other kids (even if they're big meanies)

-Don't advertise your strategy. Maintain and use your leverage

-Don't believe other GMs (Petrie) when they tell you that they are just as happy with Steak (Cousins) as they are with Fruit Loops (Guess...).

-Don't hang up on people when they offer you deals you don't like, negotiate. No one is going to call offering you Lebron for Jefferson. Also, always ask for a second rounder in the deal. Many people take those for granted, but you hired a guy who can use them like you can't use first rounders.

-Hire more talent evaluators when you get your own staff. Even if you think you're good enough, another informed opinion never hurts.

-Use stats more than you don't. There's a reason that there is a very high correlation between GMs who do and winning.

-Pay up for Synergy.

-Hire me, I'll work for cheap. Wait... that doesn't belong here.

 

What do you think guys? Any more lessons for Kahn or any ideas about who you would go after in FA? What do you think of my draft analysis? I tried to stay away from player analysis and stuck with an asset approach to it.

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