OK folks, it's time for the most exciting and unfortunate day of the year for us Wolves fans. It's draft day. Each and every year we get all worked up about what could happen to Our Beloved Puppies on draft day, and each and every year our favorite team finds new and amazing ways to dash our hopes, poke our eyes, jack our ride, and steal the ying away from our yang.
This year the stakes are higher than ever before for the guys at 600 First Avenue. In the years that have passed since KG was sent packing, the front office brain trusts have been stashing assets: 1st rounders, 2nd rounders, Euros, and cap space. This off season is the culmination of these rebuilding efforts. After tomorrow night, the picks are gone and the horrifying remnants of the Marko Jaric deal come barreling into full view. They can try to push off the issue of unused cap space until 2011 or even 2012, but they have spent the past 2 off seasons reminding the only remaining fans that this off season was where the cap space would really come into play. There are not too many suckers left in the small crowd of die hards who will buy into the cap space pitch for that much longer.
In other words, this is the last off season that any fan in his or her right mind owes Glen Taylor for him keeping the club in Minny. All of Minny's chips are on the table. If they flub this one up, it's probably time to find a new team to root for that actually cares more about the on-court product than they do about
Blueprint 1.0 2.0 3.0 Run With the Wolves whatever bulls#$t nonsense ticket pitch we'll be subjected to if they make a bad pick and/or overpay Joe Johnson. I can just see it now..."We have a solid group of young players who we will work to continue to develop along with a significant amount of cap space that we can use in [insert year here]" They've played the Lucy to our Charlie Brown for so long that maybe it's just a natural reflex to pull the ball away and they can't help themselves. Anywho...
This is the biggest off season in team history. The Wolves have an enormous amount of assets and flexibility. They have one of the top 4 picks in a 4 player draft. They have 2 promising young Euros. They have 2 serviceable point guards and 2 serviceable power forwards. There is no shortage of moves they could accomplish. Right now, it's all about execution. This is the off season that will make or break this franchise for a very long time. This is the culmination of the KG trade and its aftermath. This is the gateway to the end of the draft gravy train (which crashes abruptly into the aforementioned Jaric disaster). Will they get it right? We'll have to wait and see.
Below the fold is our Hoopus Community Draft Board, our final Hoopus Score Draft Board, and a few random notes about the draft. We'll put up some open threads before, during, and after the draft.
Hoopus Community Draft Board (along with percentage of votes received and a link to the original vote):
The kicker with Favors is that the team will have to wait a few years for him to become anything more than an athletic rebounder. Another kicker is that DMC will probably be the better pick and roll player in a 1/2 court setting.
- Wesley Johnson will be a nice pro and make a decent impact in his first year in the league. He's also not worth the 4th pick. Forget all of the mindless speculation, obfuscation, and smokescreens you have heard over the past month or so about the guy. 2 years ago he was doing this and that's exactly why you never heard of him before the season began. He had 2 very good months at Syracuse followed by some ups and downs. That's not worth the 4th pick, no matter how much Doug Collins blabbers on about the kid. If the Wolves take Johnson at 4, they've lost some value on their selection.
- Evan Turner is not worth selling the farm for. If I had to pull the lever in the draft, I'd side with the take that part of what made Turner so special was the fact that he was huge for his position and he had a massive usage rate. If you take away the size advantage and the usage rate, I'm not sure he has the tools to distinguish himself to the extent that you should go all Reggie Williams on the draft and walk away with one guy. He is definitely in the top tier of players. However, he's not better than something like DMC + Luke Babbitt + name your 3rd player. Again, the Wolves are guaranteed one of the top tier players in this draft and they should use their remaining assets to obtain the top guy on their board or the best 2nd tier wing player they can get their hands on.
- Official drinking game for the night (via Rasho Revolution): Drink every time an analyst says that Minnesota drafted 3 point guards last year, including Ty Lawson.
- Over/under for Chad Ford rumors and backtracks between now and when the draft begins: 3.
- Number of words Bill Simmons writes in his live draft blog before making a crack about David Kahn and the Wolves: 14.
- Approximate cosmic mass of the grudge Billy Simmons holds against David Kahn for getting a job that Simmons believes himself to be more qualified for: 785.3 cubic feet.
- I'm not sure what else Kahn has done to deserve some of the vitriol dolled out by the likes of Simmons and Adrian Wojnarowski. In Simmons' latest chat wrap and in Woj's latest screed, their beefs seem to be either complete fabrications (Kahn said Favors was out of shape), weird emotional conclusions (he's mean to everybody), or flat-out misinterpretations of fact (Simmons does it best when he says that Ricky went back to Europe because the Wolves drafted a PG...right before he hammers Kahn for drafting the wrong PG while ignoring what Curry said at the time as well as the sticky buyout issue). This isn't to say that I think Kahn will do a good job (I have no idea what the team is going to do) or that I have a lot of confidence (I don't). Rather, it is to claim that Kahn has been a lightening rod who has brought out the very worst in national sports media coverage: over-the-top speculation, anonymous sources, writers inserting their own voice into the record in order to prove a point, and on and on and on. It's almost as if David Kahn has been cast as the villain in the play version of Simmons' Pyramid of Basketball Success. You know, his self-made system of ranking players in an imaginary hall of fame that he amends according to the voices in his own head and from which no usable data could be obtained or, you know, transfered to the day-to-day duties of a f'ing NBA GM. I like Simmons. He is an entertaining writer. Unfortunately, he's also a piss poor grudge holder and, to continue the play analogy, he's one of those guys who wants to be billed above the actors. In my imaginary ranking system of historical artists, he's the Andrew Lloyd Weber of professional basketball writing.
- I can't shake the feeling that the Wolves will end up with Lance Stephenson.
- My bust picks: Aminu, Udoh, Henry, James, Orton, and Paul George.
- Player combos I'd be willing to overlook passing on DMC for: Favors + Johnson, Favors + Babbitt, Turner + Aldrich. Anything else would have to involve an established NBA player.
- My best guess as to what the Wolves want to do: Favors + Johnson and a crack at Paul George. David Kahn is 150% in on Ricky Rubio and it influences every part of their roster. They want to go big, long, and athletic. They want guys who can rebound and run. They want guys who can go up and down the court and catch ally-oops. If they could pull it off, a trio of Favors, Johnson, and George would be an insanely long and athletic grouping.
- Something in the back of my mind tells me that the team's stance towards DMC is an elaborate bluff to ensure he's available at 4.
- Don't be surprised if the Wolves take a player and wait a few days (even longer) to move him. This will be a tough PR move if the trade involves the 4th pick but if it does, we'll have to wait for the outcome. This off season is a long process. I'm willing to give them that much and to have that much patience. My deadline for OKC Thunderdom is the trade deadline. That's where I say goodbye if they are still worried more about ticket pitches than actually putting together a winning team.
- How I think the Wolves will flub the draft in McHaleian fashion: Wes Johnson at 4 and then cashing out the remainder of their picks for Ekpe Udoh.
- FWIW, I liked the rumored Memphis/Minny deal. I'd trade Al, 16, and 23 in a heartbeat for Z-Bo and 12. Randolph would never step inside of Target Center and he'd trim 2 years off of Jefferson's increasingly ugly contract. Also, it would move them up into Babbitt/Aldrich range with their 2nd pick wile removing the pick that is in no-man's land from the equation. Z-Bo is crazy but that deal is not. Not in the least. It would be yet another fleecing of Memphis.
- Speaking of Big Al, I hope it is becoming more and more clear why I soured on the guy before the knee injury. He's not a functional two way player. He's not a legitimate offensive threat on 90% of the court. He can't pass. He doesn't defend. He has a dinosaur offensive game. This isn't to say he doesn't have worth. It's just not on the Wolves nor for that salary. Kahn was being charitable by saying he was a 2nd option on a championship team. Maybe he was talking about the men's league at the local Y, but in the NBA, a guy like Jefferson (and Z-Bo) is a special kind of player. He's almost like a big man version of an off-the-bench energy guy. A situational scorer in the front court. He's the Randy Foye of big men. He can do one thing on offense pretty well and it doesn't involve anybody else on his team. Randy had his kamikaze drives down the right side of the lane. Big Al has his low left block. My big worry with him right now is that the team has completely overvalued his worth and will end up on the outside looking in when it comes down to using him to make a trade for a wing or an additional draft pick. I get that he's coming off an injury but he's also 25 years old entering his 7th NBA season with nearly 12,000 minutes on the tires. It's time for the team to cut their losses on the guy and move on with whatever they can. His value is going nowhere but down from here on out, especially when you consider the value that Kevin Love brings to the table at the same position for much, much, much fewer dollars and minutes played. Yes, it sucks to come to the realization that once again Kevin McHale locked in a player to a contract well above his production level, but here we are and it's time to move on.
- Whatever happens, I'll be kind of upset if the team doesn't use one of their power forwards and one of their point guards in a trade for a higher pick and/or an established player. Between Jefferson, Love, Jonny Flynn, Ramon Sessions, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic, the Wolves should be able to get a nice asset or two in return while maintaining solid proficiency at the 1 and 4.