The Wolves have reportedly taken a step in the long-awaited process of finalizing the 2017-18 roster by bringing in six players for workouts, per Michael Scotto of BasketballInsiders.com. The list includes two seasoned veterans and four recent top-35 draft picks. The veterans are Anthony Morrow (9 years experience) and Alan Anderson (8 years experience). The younger options from the 2012 or 2013 drafts include Thomas Robinson (5th overall, 2012), Perry Jones (28th overall, 2012), Trey Burke (9th overall, 2013), and Isaiah Canaan (34th overall, 2013).
Currently, the Wolves have 11 guaranteed contracts and therefore can sign (up to) four more guaranteed contracts. Additionally, Minnesota has one more two-way contract — G-League and NBA split contract — available to be offered. What the Wolves do not have to offer is cap space, only minimum contracts can be tendered at this point.
All six of the players who worked out are certainly aware of the Wolves cap situation and therefore indicate a willingness to sign at the minimum. Well-rounded players can not be found at that price tag but players with specific skill sets or specialists are what can be had.
Anthony Morrow: Shooter
Don’t be fooled by Morrow’s 30.8 percent mark from deep last season, dude is a human torch with an extremely quick release. Through his career, Morrow has showcased an ability to catch in the shooting pocket and almost instantly get a shot off. It often looks like his legs are unnecessary. Give him an inch and he will shoot. Morrow would be nice to have around Jeff Teague and Jimmy Butler penetrations. Notice the shot clock at 13 seconds when he fires off this three.
Morrow started last season in Chicago and was moved to Oklahoma City midseason, playing very small roles for both teams. His well below league average three-point percentage came on a small quantity of three-point attempts, it is unlikely he has lost his pure jumper. Morrow’s best years came early on in his career when he led the league in three-point shooting percentage as a rookie (46.7 percent). Over those first four years, Morrow shot 42.6 percent on a robust sample size of 1037 attempts. He even participated in the 3-point contest where he wore a Drazen Petrovic jersey. Super cool.
The downside, Morrow is exclusively a shooter. Not only his numbers indicate his awful defense but watching even a few minutes of Morrow play and you can tell he is the worst athlete on the floor. Think Steve Novak for Morrow, not Danny Green.
Thomas Robinson and Perry Jones: Athlete
For both Robinson and Jones, going back to college is almost a necessity to find real positives for either player. Neither of the two has ever played more than 1000 minutes for an NBA team in any single season. For some context, Brandon Rush played 1030 last season.
The lack of a shot given to Robinson is particularly startling considering he was the 5th overall pick in 2012. In that same draft, Damian Lillard went 6th overall and played 3165 minutes as a rookie.
Robinson is the biggest bust of the last five drafts. As a power forward who rebounds but does not stretch floor stretch at all entered the league at the worst possible time. But catch a Nets or Lakers blowout on League Pass over the past few years and you’ll see his athleticism hasn’t gone anywhere. If you were one of the few watching the Wolves final stretch of games last season, you’ll remember Robinson grabbing boards and flashing dunks like this one.
If Perry Jones were drafted as high as Robinson he would be even more of a bust. His career has been even more dismal after leaving Baylor as a sophomore. Jones has been on a sad trajectory since being one of the top recruits of the 2010 high school class.
The freak athlete was projected to go in the top-five after his freshman year of college but elected to return for his sophomore year before plummeting to a late first round pick in the 2012 draft. Jonathan Givony (@draftexpress on twitter) once wrote this about Jones:
“One thing that no one ever questions is Perry Jones' talent. Just how rare and unique a player he is becomes immediately evident the moment you start watching him. He has a tremendous combination of size, athleticism and skills, making him appear to be capable of doing anything he wants on the basketball court. He shows terrific footwork inside the paint, has 3-point range on his jumper, can handle the ball fluidly from coast to coast, and is a breathtaking finisher around the basket.”
Robinson and Jones, while intriguing athletes, make little sense for the Wolves as they are power forwards. I would doubt either would be signed to anything more than a G-League two-way contract.
Alan Anderson: Veteran Bench Guy
If the Wolves were to sign Anderson he would be an amalgamation of last season’s Cole Aldrich and Jordan Hill. A Minnesota native who would be stapled and duct taped to the bench. Anderson, the former DeLaSalle standout and four-year player at Michigan State has been a bench guy for the Wizards and Clippers the past two years playing a combined total of 500 minutes.
Outside of yelling from the bench, it is unclear what Anderson, who will be 35 this year, would bring to the team. As a 6-6 SG/SF, he could at least play on the wing, the Wolves biggest position of need. Here is a video of Anderson trying to fight LeBron.
Trey Burke and Isaiah Canaan: Ball Handlers
Jeff Teague will get the majority of the point guard minutes and Tyus Jones appears to be the backup but even with Jimmy Butler taking on some ball handling duties a third point guard could make sense for this team.
Neither Burke or Canaan are pure distributors but could take on some backup point guard minutes. Burke has had a long fall from grace since the Timberwolves drafted him 9th overall and immediately traded his rights for Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad. Burke’s first three years in Utah were so underwhelming that the Jazz traded him to the Wizards for a 2021 second round pick last summer. In Washington, Burke was supposed to be John Wall’s backup but only played 703 minutes in 57 games where just about every metric hated him.
Isaiah Canaan is a sneaky favorite of mine on this list. While not the prospect of the other “young guys” Canaan has played a large sum of minutes in the league. Bouncing from Houston to Philly to Chicago, Canaan has carved out a bit role on each of his teams.
While it is counter-intuitive to say the 6-foot flat Canaan is the most positionally flexible player on this list, in ways it is true. Canaan has been both a ball handler and played off the ball over the course of his career. I could see Canaan playing as the de facto point guard while the ball runs through Butler or Andrew Wiggins. From my perspective, Canaan actually seems to prefer an off-ball role where he can look to creat a shot away from the ball handler.
Of the bunch, if any, who would you like to see the Wolves sign?