Well, Hoopusters. We very nearly had a year where draft coverage would have been unnecessary. Running out draft boards for the 58th pick? Eeeahhh....
But, thanks to Al Jefferson, Mr. Robert Sarver, and a rather untimely implosion from Kevin McHale's Rockets, the Jazz bucked Hollinger's playoff odds and....well, made the playoffs. Thus we have acquired the 18th pick from them due us basically for giving them Al Jefferson. Crazy world we live it.
So, let's take a look at some names. Ones actually in the realm of possibility, who actually kind of make sense for a team that has made none for too long.
First off, with David Kahn having his option picked up for the next season, he's basically making this pick whether we got it this year or the next. So while we didn't know Dear POBO was returning until after the playoff standings settled, the bottom line ends up being it doesn't really matter. Not wanting to make this pick this year just delays the inevitable.
Second, there's a lot of talk the Wolves would prefer to move this pick for a veteran who won't take a few years to get it. Which is understandable. And...depending on who it gets moved for, of course....probably the best course of action. The Timberpuppies are not very mature. As Jerry Z said in his latest chat, a young team can get away with having a Beasley or Darko or Ant Randolph. Not all three. This is a team in desperate need of players who know what they're doing and can consistently do it.
And third, as anyone who knows anything about my views on basketball will tell you, I am not a big Best Player Available guy. Especially now, when the team has a few core pieces in place and is starting to win. Derrick Williams is going to be a good player in this league. He was also possibly the worst pick the Pups could have made in that draft. You don't draft into the same position as your best player who's putting up historic numbers. This year's draft is heavy on the 4s, and while they granted are all pretty much going before 18, the point remains: do not draft a power forward. As much as I might be intrigued by Royce White, I will not recommend drafting him.
So, with that out of the way: here we go.
(and we're going in no particular order)
Tony Wroten (PG/SG, Washington Huskies)
Pros: Think of Wroten as Tyreke Evans lite. That's pretty much what you need to know. He's 'Reke minus about 30 lbs. Good size, great court vision and ability to attack the basket.
Cons: Can't shoot. Worth anything. And as S-n-P has already pointed out, the last thing the Wolves need is a wing player who can't shoot. Also, drafting a player who will take the ball out of Rubio's hands (and who won't contribute much without it) probably isn't the best idea.
Terrence Ross (SG/SF, Washington Huskies)
Pros: Ideal size, good all-around skillset and production. Has moments of outstanding defense. Good shooter with his feet set.
Cons: Good, but not a great athlete. Doesn't go up strong attacking the hoop. Not great putting the ball on the floor in traffic.
Dion Waiters (SG, Syracuse Orangemen)
*Let's take a moment to appreciate the irony of how the best pick we could make here is quite possibly another Orangeman.
Pros: Gets out and scores in transition. Very good on the fast break. Can also dribble. Sad that that's a pro for a shooting guard, but on this team.....Also a very VERY aggressive defender. Think of him as Tony Allen with better handles. That's worth a lot to our Timberpups.
Cons: Suspect shooter in the halfcourt. A little small for his position. 6'3"-6'4" and I doubt his reach is more than just average. Good but not a great athlete. Tough to make it as a shooting guard at that size without stellar athleticism, even in today's NBA. Physically, he's no Dwyane Wade.
Austin Rivers (SG, Duke Bluedevils)
S-n-P pretty much covered everything you need to know about Rivers here. DO. NOT. DRAFT.
Kendall Marshall (PG, UNC Tarheels)
Pros: Extremely good court vision. Historically good. Best assist/40min (adjusted) of any college player in last decade. 3.51 asst/TO ratio is 3rd all time. Also a solid scorer, with good size (great for a PG) and solid defense. Can he transition to be more of a combo guard? Probably, if asked. Very much like another Kendall, Kendall Gill (a former Twolf for a year, in fact)
Cons: Ideally a point guard. Passing skills will be somewhat wasted next to Rubio, no matter how good of a system is built. A little small to be a full time SG. Definitely more comfortable with ball than without it. Wolves already forcing one pg to play out of position. Rubio/Ridnour/Barea/Marshall creates same problem as Love/Beasley/Randolph/Williams. Entirely depends on confidence in him playing the 2.
Quincy Miller (SF, Baylor Bears)
Pros: Highly, highly skilled. Small forward with the perimeter skills of a SG and the post game of a PF. 6'9" with 747 arms. Very versatile on both ends of the floor. Good form and high release point makes his jumper all but unblockable. Good in transition and in traffic. Can absorb contact around the hoop and finish.Can most definitely create his own shot.
Cons??: Tore his ACL as a high school senior. Not overwhelmingly productive as a college freshman. Didn't show explosive athleticism. Due to recovering from injury? Was billed as the next Durant in high school and has all the tools for it. Was projected as a top 5 pick next year....probably a 20ppg scorer as a college sophomore. If he fills out his potential, he could be a superstar pick in the late teens. Worth the risk? Tough call. ACL injuries take a lot of time to get over; he's probably a lot better than he showed. Possibly the most potential of anyone in the draft not named Anthony Davis. But hasn't shown much actual production to back it up.
Will Barton (SG, Memphis Tigers)
Pros: Good shooter...shot selection, is much, much better. Very multi-dimensional. Ideal size for an NBA shooting guard, and showed tangible improvement in nearly every aspect of the game as a sophomore. Attacks the rim and gets to the FT line. Solid handles and rebounds very well for his position. For whatever reason, he flies way below the radar.
Cons: Flies too far below the radar. No need to spend a first rounder on him, as he'll almost certainly be available in the early second round. Needs a lot more muscle...has trouble finishing in heavy traffic. Still prone to making bad decisions at times.
Doron Lamb (SG, Kentucky Wildcats)
Pros: Is good at what he's good at. He can catch-and-shoot-and-score. A little small for an NBA shooting guard but not prohibitively so. Defends well...good anticipation. Definitely a guy who will fill a need.
Cons: Is not good at what he's not good at. He can catch-and-shoot....and that's about it. Not great in transition or off the dribble. Was asked to help facilitate more and didn't do much with it. Definitely not an 18th pick. Great as a Fred Hoiberg-type player to pick in the second round. Not so much in the first round.
Jae Crowder (???, Marquette Eagles)
Pros: Highly, HIGHLY productive. Scores, rebounds, and moves the ball without making mistakes with it. A good fit skillset wise...gets most of his points on catch-and-shoots or suicide dives to the hoop. Has a non-stop motor. Manically aggressive as a defender. I've seen more than one scout compare him to Shane Battier in that regard.
Cons: Genuinely without a position. Plays PF for the Eagles, but is nowhere near big enough for that as a pro. Can he transition to full-time small forward? Wolves have not had great success with that. Like Barton, would be a massive reach (waste....?) as a first round pick.
In terms of the 18th pick, I think it comes down to two players: Dion Waiters or Quincy Miller. It's a classic "most likely" versus "best possible" scenario. Waiters is, ironically, probably the safest pick we could realistically make at 18. Miller is the guy who, if everything goes right, would be the best in the end. (well, if everything goes right, Miller would probably be the 2nd or 3rd best player in this whole draft)
To me, this is a very hard call to make. S-n-P I think will side with Waiters and playing it as safe as possible. Understandable, considering the situation. Tim I'm sure will favor Miller, as a player who can potentially both fill the rather base need for a productive wing, as well as the higher need for a player who can legitimately be a go-to athlete and scoring force....a much, MUCH more difficult need to fill as the candidate list is much, much shorter. Again, understandable.
Meanwhile, Adelman most likely prefers to trade the pick all together....probably packaged with D-Williams....for a veteran who can make an impact now without causing locker room headaches. A third understandable position.
So...what say you?