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A Quick Look at Picks

Now that the Wolves have officially reached the half-way point of the season, I suppose that the NBA's Miss Manners would not disapprove if we took a quick look at our potential 2011 picks.

NBA Standings

1. CLE 8-32
2. SAC 9-29
3. MIN 10-31
4. NJN 10-30
5. WAS 11-27
6. TOR 13-27
7. LAC 13-25
8. DET 14-26
9. MIL 14-23
10 CHA 15-23
11 GSW 16-23
12 HOU 18-23
13 PHO 17-21
14 MEM 19-21

15 PHI 16-23
16 IND 16-21
17 POR 21-20
18 NYK 22-17
19 DEN 23-16
20 NOH 25-16
21 ATL 26-15
22 ORL 26-14
23 DAL 26-13
24 CHI 27-13
25 UTA 27-13
26 OKC 27-13
27 MIA 30-12
28 LAL 30-11
29 BOS 30-9
30 SAS 34-6

The MIN pick (top 10-protected) looks pretty secure.  We're seven games behind the 11th position, and it would be difficult to fall that far, with eight teams in between, that will often play each other, and  "somebody" has to win.  I expect the young Wolves to improve in the second half, but even if MIN made a trade for a more established player like Iguodala, the 11th position would be a stretch.  While I could never hope the Wolves lose any games, strategically their best option would be to maximize the lottery pick, losing games to the worst teams to pin wins on them, and winning the occasional games against good teams to help improve their confidence.

The Utah Pick is Top 14 protected in 2011, and this also looks secure.  Even with a major injury, its doubtful that Jerry Sloan would allow the Jazz to fall out of the play-offs after a solid 27-13 start.  At this point, they look like a second tier play-off team, with plenty of company off the pace of the top four.  As we've discussed, if a lock-out over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement keeps a lot of kids in school, it's likely this pick won't bring back a very good prospect -- perhaps a senior that would struggle to be a second-rounder in a normal draft.  However, we'll have to wait and see how a lock-out would influence underclassmen's willingness to enter the draft.

The Memphis Pick is where things get interesting.  It's also Top-14 protected in 2011, and they've been playing better ball lately.  Its quite possible that they could displace Portland and make the play-offs, earning us their pick this year.  However, don't count the Blazers out.  While they've been wracked with injuries, Aldridge and Matthews are playing well, they have veterans in Andre Miller and Camby, and the immense wealth of Paul Allen behind them.  Moreover, there are reports that Memphis is shopping OJ Mayo, and removing his influence on the team, and certainly in the clubhouse, would require a learning curve.  Moreover, their front office makes decisions that are often hard to understand.  And finally, there are questions about the other teams in their neighborhood as well.  What will a post-Melo Nuggets team look like?  Will Houston get it together?  At this point, I think its still too early to predict whether Memphis will make the play-offs, and I think that could mean a dramatic difference in the value of this pick, especially if the 2012 draft is stacked with prospects from 2011 that stayed in school.

With potentially three picks in the next draft again, MIN will have assets this summer, and the pressure will be on for them to improve the team, especially with our unprotected 1st going to the Clippers.  Scoreboard watchers and League Pass owners will have plenty of teams to cheer for, and against, for the second half of the season.