This past Tuesday was a holiday of sorts for fans of bad NBA franchises, a night where everyone gets together to watch a collection of 2.7 gram bouncing plastic balls (likely) determine their favorite team’s fate for the next handful of years.
For the Wolves, Tuesday night marked the first time since 2012 that the NBA lottery didn’t truly affect the franchise one way or another. For me personally, not having to sweat how many other teams would leapfrog the Wolves in the draft order was extremely refreshing, much like watching this team play meaningful basketball games in the third week of April for the first time in recent memory.
Regardless of the lottery, the Wolves have known their draft position since that last fateful night of the NBA regular season. After clinching their first playoff spot in over a decade, the Wolves officially sent their first round pick to the Atlanta Hawks while simultaneously receiving the Oklahoma City Thunder first round pick via the Utah Jazz.
Here’s the official order of the first round of the NBA Draft:
1. Phoenix Suns
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Orlando Magic
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn)
9. New York Knicks
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via LAL)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit)
13. Los Angeles Clippers
14. Denver Nuggets
15. Washington Wizards
16. Phoenix Suns (via Miami)
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18. San Antonio Spurs
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Minnesota)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via OKC)
21. Utah Jazz
22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans)
23. Indiana Pacers
24. Portland Trail Blazers
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cleveland)
26. Philadelphia 76ers
27. Boston Celtics
28. Golden State Warriors
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Toronto)
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston)
With the order set and the Wolves penciled in at #20 (at least for now), it’s officially time to start scouring the web to see who the experts predict will land in Minnesota come June 21st. That’s right, #MockDraftSZN is back!
ESPN.com Mock Draft
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Dzanan Musa (SF - International)
Age: 19.0 / Height: 6’9” / Weight: 195 pounds
I’ll be honest, I had to triple-check the spelling of this dude’s first name, so that should tell you how familiar I am with his overall game. According to Jonathan Givony, “Musa’s size, scoring instincts and aggressiveness could be intriguing at this stage of the draft. He’s one of the youngest players in this class but already productive in Europe, playing at a fairly high level.”
Givony adds that this selection could be insurance for the Wolves if they do indeed lose Nemanja Bjelica to free agency. While losing Belly seems like a disaster in itself (that’s a story for another day), the Wolves could clearly use all of the things Musa brings to the table — youth, shooting, and the ability to put the ball on the floor to create for himself or his teammates.
SI.com Mock Draft
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Chandler Hutchison (SF - Boise State University)
Age: 22.0 / Height: 6’7” / Weight: 193 pounds
Hutchison is one of the oldest prospects projected to be drafted in the first round, but his production in the Mountain West this past season supports his case as an intriguing first round flier. As a senior at Boise State, Hutchison averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on his way to being named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. He also shot 36% from there three-point line on 4.1 attempts per game.
Age aside, this is one of my favorite players projected to go in the first round, and I think the fit in Minnesota could be ideal. While I’m no Jonathan Givony, Hutchison’s game does remind me a lot of Kyle Kuzma, who was also selected late in the first round of last year’s draft before lighting up the NBA during his rookie season.
Hutchison has a smooth stroke, can finish in traffic with either hand, and has the size and quickness to be able to defend multiple positions. Just the idea of Jimmy taking this kid under his wing and grooming him to be a two-way player puts a ridiculous stupid smile on my face:
NBAdraft.net Mock Draft
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Lonnie Walker (SG - University of Miami)
Age: 19.4 / Height: 6’4” / Weight: 200 pounds
As a freshman at Miami, Walker really struggled to put together a consistent season, averaging just 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 27.8 minutes per game. However, with a lack of pure two-guards in this draft, Walker projects to be a late lottery/mid-first round pick based on his size, elite wingspan (drink!), and crazy athleticism.
How would Walker (potentially) fit in Minnesota? Well, is he young, can he shoot, does he possess the raw athleticism to be a plus defender, and is he Derrick Rose? Crossing off three of those boxes is perfect for me, and I could see Walker getting plenty of work with the second unit as the Wolves attempt to re-construct their bench this offseason:
Other top mocks to monitor over the next month or so include The Ringer, USA Today, and SB Nation.
With the NBA Draft still five weeks away, #MockDraftSZN 2018 is still in its infant stage, but things are likely to pick up rapidly as teams begin bringing players in for private workouts and the NBA Combine wraps up this weekend in Chicago. We’ll have all your Wolves-related draft kahntent here at Canis Hoopus, so be sure to check back for the latest edition of mocks, rumors, and NBA happenings.