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Targeting Future Wolves: Small Forward Edition

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If the Wolves want to draft a Small Forward, who should they target?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Washington vs North Carolina Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As you enjoy your Tuesday morning cup of coffee, welcome back to the draft target series here in Canis Land. There is now just one and a half weeks leading up to draft night, which is Thursday, June 20. Today, we’re going to analyze a new 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 Availabl”e 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. R.J. Barrett is 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.
  • I know there’s a contingent of readers that will want to see Brandon Clarke on this list due to the wingspan and (justified) skepticism that he can actually be a PF in the NBA, but he’s likely going to be drafted to play the 4 initially, so that’s where he’ll end up.
  • 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, the Wolves have a few players who fit into the “Small Forward” mold, although it’s becoming increasingly difficult to decipher between who is a SG vs a SF, as well as who is a SF vs a PF. The one player one the roster who fits squarely as a 3 is Robert Covington, and if the Wolves were to look at a SF in this draft, they’d be targeting RoCo’s backup. It’s possible that Covington could play some small-ball four, but his talents make for an easy fit with nearly any player at this position. While it’s mentioned above that I believe fit matters as a whole, we can kind of throw that out the window at this position group.

Additionally, I know Cam Reynolds is on the roster, and you may include Keita Bates-Diop in this group as well. However, neither of those guys should factor into the decision making in this area. If the best player available at 11 is a wing, the Wolves should take him.

Out of Range

R.J. Barrett

So, yeah, the Wolves aren’t getting Barrett. He’s likely to go number 3 to the Knicks, and even if he doesn’t, he’s almost certainly not going to slide past Cleveland at 5. That’s about all there really is to say about R.J..

DeAndre Hunter

It’s unclear whether or not Hunter will fit more as a 3 or a 4 in the NBA, but it appears that most teams interested in him will like him initially as a wing defender and spot up shooter. He’s technically ranked lower than our next prospect on Tankathon’s big board, but his range feels closer to 4-7 than slipping to 11, while our next prospect offers much greater variance in terms of where they might end up.

Cam Reddish

Without a doubt the largest enigma in the draft, Reddish deserves his own space. I don’t know how to classify him in terms of whether he’s in range or not, because his range has been described anywhere from third overall through the end of the lottery. He’s been mocked to Atlanta with one of their two lottery picks in several places, but who knows what the Hawks will do. They seem like a strong candidate to try to trade up given that they have three first-round picks now.

If, for some reason, Reddish did fall to the Wolves, he seems like a risk worth taking. In my opinion, the problem with Reddish (aside from the disgusting shooting numbers for a “shooter”) is who we are expecting him to become. If a team is drafting Reddish to be their Paul George of the future, they’re probably going to end up being disappointed.

My favorite best case comparison I’ve seen (in this thread) for Reddish that makes more sense is actually Minnesota’s very own Robert Covington. At 6’8” with a 7’ wingspan and a feathery looking shooting stroke (despite poor percentages), there are tools there to envision Reddish developing into a monster 3-and-D player. Whether he actually possesses the motor to turn into that type of player, as well as the mindset to be content in that type of role, is a whole other conversation that’s been reverberated ad nauseum to this point.

Pick 11 Target

Sekou Doumbouya

There’s been quite a bit of Sekou-hype from us at Canis Hoopus so far leading up to the draft. We won’t go over him too much due to that, as Jake and John already have put together a few pieces on him. What I will say is I trust the opinions of those two guys, and if Sekou does really possess the upside we think he might, he would be the home-run swing that we’ve been clamoring for. There’s obviously no guarantee that he’ll turn out, but he’s the high-risk/high-reward option that most consistently has popped up for Minnesota at pick 11.

Nassir Little

The theme for this position group, should the Wolves stay put at 11, is the home-run swing aspect. If you watched Little play at North Carolina this year, you were easily blown away for brief stretches (often one possession at a time) while spending most of the game wondering where the former 5-star recruit was. He disappeared, a lot. How much of that is due to how he was used in college is up for debate. However, nobody expected Little, who had serious number one overall pick hype heading into the season, to average a dismal 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds while only earning 18.2 minutes per game.

The positive note, however, is that those averages bring Little’s per-36 averages to 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds. He didn’t show much as a spot-up shooter and his form is a bit wonky, but it’s worth noting that his free-throw percentage (77%) suggests there is a potentially competent shooter in there. Standing 6’6” with a 7’1” wingspan (drink!), the physical potential to be a dominant defender and slasher is obvious. Whether or not Little can actually put that all together remains to be seen.

Trade Back Targets

Matisse Thybulle

If the Timberwolves do trade back, it would likely be into the early-to-mid 20s or second round. In that scenario, Thybulle makes sense as a potential Tony Allen-type player, with the hopes that he develops into a reliable spot-up shooter. As a 35.8% three-point shooter over his four years at Washington paired with his career 78% from the free-throw line, that seems like a reasonable bet to make.

Adding Thybulle to the long-term mix on the wing would give the Wolves three defensive aces alongside Josh Okogie and Covington, with the caveat being that the Wolves would not get any reliable creation ability from their wing players. Is that trade-off worth it? That answers relies entirely on if the Wolves are able to find/acquire a legitimate shot creator to run their offense from the Point Guard position. If they’re unable to do that, Thybulle may become a bit redundant.

Dylan Windler

Windler is probably more of a second-round target, but he’d be an intriguing add to the Wolves roster. The Belmont product is a lights out shooter (54/41/76 career percentages) who is also a dominant rebounder for a wing player (11.7 rebounds per-36 minutes). As a guy who could come in and contribute immediately as a shooter and rebounder, while theoretically holding his own defensively, there should be some intrigue to Windler as an addition to a Timberwolves bench that figures to need shooting and scoring in a bad way.

And that’s that! Comment below to tell me where I went right or wrong.