NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Jae Crowder #32 of the Marquette Golden Eagles shoots over Chris Smith #5 of the Louisville Cardinals during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
If you haven't seen his signature line, or not read his post from just a little bit down the page, you might not know that Tim Allen is a big fan of Our Beloved Puppies taking Quincy Miller with the 18th pick.
Now you do.
Below the fold I'll tell you who I think should be the guy at #18.
First, let's boil Tim's argument down to its most basic essence: Quincy Miller was a Team USA level prospect with elite length and athleticism before he was hurt, and his perceived upside because of that experience is enough to outweigh the risk of passing over "safer" prospects with a lower perceived ceiling.
I hope that isn't being unfair. I don't think it is.
My counter-argument is two-fold: First, the production put up by Jae Crowder exists at such an insanely high level that it should be viewed as a raised roof, production-wise. Second, Barton's actual production is more tantalizing than Quincy Miller's actual track record.
Let's take a look at a few of the players that might be available on the wing at the 18th pick.
Jae Crowder, Dion Waiters (maybe not if you believe the promise he has in the top 10), Will Barton, Quincy Miller, Jeremy Lamb, and Austin Rivers. These are the guys who can play on the perimeter and might be available when the Wolves' selection comes along. (There are a few bigs to consider here, as well, but that's another post for another day.)
With these 6 players I ranked them with Hoopus Score, MDSD, PER, WS40, percentage of Hoops Analyst criteria met, turnovers/40 minutes pace adjusted, and blocks+steals+rebounds/40 minutes pace adjusted.
One of the things that has just baffled me with off-season talk about the squad has been the emphasis placed on finding a wing player who "can create his own shot" or "get his own" when the half court offense breaks down. Once again, the talk about the composition of this team has devolved from finding guys who are, you know, good, into talking about getting players because of their looks.
Get. Players. With. Awesome. Production.
The Wolves clearly lack awesome production on the wing and the backup 4/5. They don't need to shoot the moon on the 18th pick to make their current core dangerous. They need functional production. They do not need to gamble. Repeat: They do not need to gamble. One more time: They do not need to gamble.
They simply need to turn the awful production of Wes Johnson and (holy crap, they don't have a shooting guard on the roster) into something that is not negative. As I have repeated over and over and over and over again on this site, this is not rocket science. This is about getting as many average to above average players as possible in the top 5-7 spots on the roster and then not killing the cap with the rest. If you luck into a superstar, great. If not, welcome to 96% of the NBA. Somehow, the Wolves have made this sort of thing look like quantum thermodynamics.
Anywho, getting back to our rankings, Jae Crowder is the number one player (often with a bullet) in each and every single category. Number one. Numero uno. Somehow, he is being overlooked as a first round pick, let alone a legitimate lottery pick.
The basic knocks against Crowder are that he is an awkwardly sized college 4 who can't create his own shot on the wing.
I'm not really sure what any of these things have to do with being above average and awesome at damn near every part of basketball, but people have convinced themselves that they must really, really matter.
At the cliched end of the day Jae Crowder hits a lot of his shots, does a bunch of stuff off the ball, and doesn't turn it over. Last year, he did this better than almost everyone else in college basketball not named Anthony Davis. If you are worried about him being an awkwardly sized college 4, don't play him at the 4. If you are worried about him not being able to create his own shot, give the ball to Ricky.
Again, not rocket science.
Get Jae Crowder. He's stupid good at basketball and you want him on your favorite team. The only reason not to take him is if a productive big like Tyler Zeller is available and/or you can maneuver the team into something like Will Barton + a productive big.
Moving down the list, Will Barton's average rank is 2.5. Madison Dan has pretty much made the case over and over and over again with the Memphis Tiger (look at his sig line), but this much needs repeating: He does a ton of stuff that doesn't involve scoring and he can score. Worrying about how skinny he is or what conference he did these sorts of things in misses the main point: No one else did what he did, and it's not like we can't look at his minutes against Top 100 RPI teams and make some decent assumptions.
Wrapping this up, drafting Quincy Miller will not be the end of the world. However, I believe it would be missing the basic point of this team: Their "Big Three" core is in place and they need to replace the bad minutes of Wes Johnson, the starting 2, or whoever the backup 4/5 is with functional players. That's the most likely way this thing gets really good. The ship is in the ocean and is being powered by Love, Rubio, and Pek. The deckhands can still sink it. We need better deckhands. There's no reason to gamble for another motor or captain.
Crowder, Barton, or bust.