As you enjoy your Friday morning cup of coffee, welcome back to the draft target series here in Canis Land. There is now just one week 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. Zion Williamson is not going to slide to 11, and the Wolves don’t have the assets to move up to the top pick. 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.
- With this position being Karl-Anthony Towns’ front court mate, there are specific traits we’re going to be looking for and analyzing. Namely, shooting and defense.
- 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 guys who figure to be in the PF rotation: Dario Saric and Keita Bates-Diop. Dario brings some shooting and a little bit of playmaking, but struggles a bit on the defensive end as well as the backboards. KBD figures to be more of a small-ball-4 or stretch-4 in a perfect world. Neither of these guys should deter the Wolves from selecting a PF if they would fit well with Towns.
Out of Range
First Round Prospect — Stay Away
I’m sure some people will see Rui’s per-game averages at Gonzaga from this past year and like him. I just really don’t know what he’s going to do well for an NBA team. Maybe I’ll end up looking like an idiot after someone turns him into an All-Star, but I don’t see it. He scored efficiently (57/41/74 shooting splits), but it’s worth noting that he took 1 three-point attempt per game. Without a tight handle to get to the rim against NBA-level defenders, his scoring figures to come largely from the mid-range. That doesn’t excite me. Beyond some mid-range scoring, what does Hachimura offer? He routinely gets lost on defense and is a poor rebounder for a PF. If it feels like we’re being harsh, then so be it. This is probably the one pick in the draft that would make me throw my phone through the television.
Pick 11 Target
This figures to be the most controversial player amongst Timberwolves fans, as we’ve already seen on Twitter quite a bit. There are tons of differing opinions, and it’s hard to know where to land.
On the one hand, Clarke was the second best player in college basketball this year. He would fit nicely nice to KAT in the sense that he’s a defensive ace (4.1 blocks, 1.5 steals per-36 minutes) and could be an effective lob threat. His timing and explosiveness jump off the screen when you watch him play.
On the other hand, he’ll be 23 by the time the seasons starts, has a wingspan that would be unimpressive for a wing player (6’8.25”), and doesn’t project to be a particularly good floor spacer.
He’s complicated. I’m willing to overlook the physical shortcomings in favor of the basketball instincts he’s shown, but I can understand passing on Clarke at 11 as well.
Washington is one of the few prospects to go back to school and actually improve their draft stock by adding a missing piece to their game. Washington has added a three-point shot to his game, which makes him a much more intriguing prospect. At 6’8” with long arms (7’2” wingspan), and relatively quick feet, he’s got the tools to be impactful as a front court defender. Jake had a lot to say about Washington earlier this week.
I really want to like Washington as the guy, but after digging into the numbers, I’m not so sure. The three-point percentage from his sophomore season is nice (42.3%), but how much weight should we place on 78 3PA versus two consecutive seasons of poor free-throw shooting (60.6%, 66.3%)? Those free-throw numbers do suggest that his shooting has indeed improved, but they also suggest that we shouldn’t necessarily expect Washington to be as much of a floor spacer as his three-point percentage college would make you think.
If you take Washington, you have to be convinced that the jumper is for real. If you don’t think it is, “PKP” be damned, the Wolves should pass.
This might be a bit high for some to see Williams, but he’s just such a damn good basketball player. He’s a little bit undersized for the PF position, but he would make up for it with his multi-level scoring prowess and unique passing ability. His shooting has improved with each season, and there’s no reason to expect that to stop now. Additionally, Williams is an outstanding off-ball defender. That may seem like a small attribute to point to, but it’s part of what’s made players like Pascal Siakam and Draymond Green so valuable in these playoffs.
In a perfect world with Williams, he’s a poor-man’s Draymond on the short-roll in the PnR. He isn’t the high upside pick the Wolves might be (definitely are) looking for, but it’d be foolish to look at the two-time SEC POTY as a “bad” pick for Minnesota.
Trade Back Targets
If the Timberwolves do trade back, it would likely be into the early-to-mid 20s or second round. In that scenario, Okeke makes sense, and not just because he has an awesome name. Assuming his ACL recovery goes as planned, the former Auburn Tiger would bring defense, shooting, and passing to the front court.
He made roughly 39% of his three-point attempts in back-to-back seasons at Auburn, all the while being their best defensive player (1.5 blocks, 2.2 steals per-36). He’d figure to be a low-usage, star role player in the Timberwolves system. With good feet and a 7’ wingspan, Okeke would be able to guard multiple positions, which is more valuable than ever.
There are reason(s) to think that any one of Clarke, Washington, Williams, or Okeke would make sense next to KAT. Just please, Gersson, don’t take Rui.
Comment below to tell me where I went right or wrong, or if there’s anyone I missed that you would like the Wolves to consider.