As you enjoy your Thursday morning cup of coffee, welcome back to the draft target series here in Canis Land. There are now four Thursday’s leading up to draft night, which is Thursday, June 20. Each Thursday morning, we’re going to analyze a different position group based upon who does and does not make sense for the Timberwolves to target with their first pick.
Of course, this is a complicated task, so here are a few of the ground rules that we’re going to be abiding by:
- Fit matters. I get the Best Player Available approach. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just to throw a bunch of talent together and hope it works out. In the Timberwolves case, they have a few very specific needs. EiM does a nice job of explaining what I’m getting at in his piece, here. Additionally, this draft has very little separation from the mid-lottery through pretty much the end of the first round. Among players with similar talent levels, it makes no sense to not take fit into account.
- We’re going to try to be as realistic as possible. Jarrett Culver is almost certainly not going to slide to 11, and the Wolves don’t really have the assets to move up in the lottery. The most likely scenario is going to be picking at 11, but the idea of trading back is legitimate. Therefore, we’ll consider players who should be available at pick 11 as well as who they might target if they did trade back to the latter half of the first round.
- For the Shooting Guard group, offense (mainly shooting) was weighted much more heavily than defense. Neither Andrew Wiggins or Josh Okogie figure to be above average shooters anytime soon. Okogie should continue to grow into a very good defender, while Wiggins is... well... Wiggins. Let’s get some shooting and/or reliable playmaking out on the wing.
- We want your input, too. I’m not going to pretend to be as adept as covering the draft as the old DraftExpress was. The draft is largely a crapshoot. Let’s hear your ideas/thoughts in the comments. If you think my ideas are dumb, feel free to go right ahead and roast me.
Alright, let’s dig in.
On the current roster, there are two off-guards who figure to be around for the long haul (Andrew Wiggins, Josh Okogie). That’s a fair number of rotation players to have at that position, especially considering that both guys could play (and have played) the SF position. There’s obviously a possibility that Andrew Wiggins gets traded, but for the time being he has to be included in the long-term outlook of the team. Additionally, there might be some overlap between positions, but we’ll do our best to look at who realistically could fill this position for the Wolves
Out of Range
So, yeah, the Wolves almost certainly aren’t getting Culver. He probably won’t go in the top-3, but he could feasibly go as high as number 4 to the Lakers. It would honestly be surprising to see Culver slide past Cleveland at 5, but even if he did, there’s just no way a 6’8” two-way wing with a 6’10” wingspan is going to slide to 11.
First Round Prospect — Stay Away
Kevin Porter, Jr.
So, my whole philosophy for this draft coming in has been that the Wolves needed to take a big swing to find a perimeter playmaker. KPJ would certainly fit that mold, except for the fact that the chances of him ever turning into the player that would justify the risk is very low. His highlight video will wow you, just as all highlight videos do. What you don’t see on the highlight videos, though, are the laziness and low-motor (sound familiar?) that made him ridiculously inconsistent (again, sound familiar?) during his one year at USC. How does a guy this talented average 9.5 points per game? How does a ball-handler/shot-creator shoot 52% from the FREE-THROW LINE. Sure, KPJ’s ceiling might be sky-high, but the likelihood of him reaching that ceiling is too low for me.
Pick 11 Target
We hit NAW as a target in the Point Guard edition of this series. You can classify him however you want, depending on if you view him as more of a secondary ball-handler (more likely) or a lead-playmaker.
So, Langford is really an eye-of-the-beholder type player, as are almost all of the non-Zion players in this class. In my opinion, he feels like a better risk to take than KPJ for a few reasons. For one, he’s big and long for the position, standing 6’6” with a 6’11” wingspan. Additionally, he’s masterful at finishing around the rim. He finished a ridiculous 66% of his field goal attempts in the paint during his one season at Indiana. The shooting from distance (27%) is concerning, but Langford also played much of last season with a thumb injury on his shooting hand. He was viewed as an average or above-average shooter coming out of high school, so it’s fair to at least think that Langford may be able to be a capable shooter in the NBA. He’s not a perfect target or prospect, but he wouldn’t make me throw my phone through the TV if he was the pick at 11.
Herro might be a bit of a reach at 11 depending on who else is on the board, but there’s definitely a universe where Herro could make some sense for Minnesota. Every conversation about Herro has to start with his shooting. His shot is buttery, and while his 35.5% three-point percentage isn’t out of this world, his 93.5% free-throw percentage matches up with the eye test of just how good of a shooter he can be.
He figures to be able to create off the bounce a little bit, but I wouldn’t count on him ever becoming even a secondary ball handler. On the other end of the floor, he’s complicated. He routinely guarded the opposing team’s best wing player at Kentucky, and did a really, really good job in that role. What makes him complicated in the NBA is that his wingspan is shorter than his height. He’s a T-Rex. That’s... not ideal. Kentucky has produced an absurd amount of NBA talent recently, and I would be willing to take a shot on Herro. Like every other prospect, he wouldn’t come without questions, though.
Trade Back Targets
Zach Norvell, Jr.
If the Timberwolves do trade back, it would likely be into the early-to-mid 20s or second round. In that scenario, someone in the mold of Norvell would make sense. Norvell would provide creation and scoring off the bench. He’s shifty, and nobody would ever mistake him for being gun-shy. Currently, the Wolves bench figures to have a few nice role players, but nobody who can really break down a defense and create their own shot (barring Wiggins moving to the bench). You don’t have to squint too hard to see Norvell being able to fill that role for the Wolves in the not too distant future. He’s probably more of a second round target than a late-first round target, but like I said, I don’t think there’s really that much of a difference between most of these prospects anyways.
We hit on Jerome in the Point Guard edition, but at 6’5” and with a silky stroke from deep he would likely be able to fill some role as an off-guard if need be. His athletic limitations worry me on the wing, but he probably would be able to carve out a role as a shooter.
The only way Matthews becomes a target is if the Wolves trade way back to the end of the second round, but I’m not opposed to the idea of adding him if they do end up going that route. He’s one of the best (if not the best) on-ball defenders in this draft. He would offer almost nothing offensively, but you could do worse at the end of the second-round than finding a guy who will hound opposing wing scorers.
Find someone who loves you as much as Charles Matthews loves playing defense pic.twitter.com/3DNEsur9PV— Alessandro Cozzi (@AleCozz1) January 8, 2019
Charles Matthews is such a pest on defense & I love it. Some guys get scared when they see Matthews defending them. He's one of the best defenders in this draft & I'm glad more people are starting to give him the recognition he deserves— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) May 18, 2019
Here are some clips from his 1st scrimmage pic.twitter.com/krpSFtVxCL
And that’s that! Comment below to tell me where I went right or wrong.