We finally made it, ladies and gentlemen. After a 133 day hiatus, NBA Basketball is BACK!
With the Minnesota Timberwolves left out of the Orlando restart, our staff decided to take a look at the eight teams, including the Wolves, that were left out of the bubble in the form of a draft, to create the best lineup of seven players we could.
In our “Delete Eight” draft, each Canis Hoopus “GM” was given $75 million in cap space to spend on his picks in order to sprinkle some added strategy into the mix. Every player from the bottom eight teams (the Wolves, Warriors, Cavs, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, and Hornets) was eligible to be drafted, including two-way players.
We used a snake draft order for our seven-round draft, with John Meyer kicking things off with the first pick, followed by Jack Borman, Mike O’Hagan, and Josh Clement, with Kyle Theige caboosin’ it with the fifth pick. You can check out the full draft results and individual teams here.
Here’s how the draft turned out!
Note: the number next to each player’s name is the round he was selected in.
John Meyer’s Team (remaining cap space = $ 10,565,868)
- Karl-Anthony Towns ($27,285,000)
- John Collins ($2,686,560)
- Devonte’ Graham ($1,416,852)
- Zach LaVine ($19,500,000)
- Wendell Carter, Jr. ($5,201,400)
- Josh Okogie ($2,530,680)
- Jarrett Culver ($5,813,640)
There’s no way I wasn’t going to draft Towns #1. Steph Curry was in the mix but it’s Steph Curry and he’s already made my life worse because of how good he is, whereas BIG KAT has most certainly improved my life. Easy choice. Wolves should’ve picked John Collins instead of Justin Patton so I went ahead and rectified that with my second pick. He will dunk all over all of your teams. That should be cool. Devonte’ Graham is one of the most improved players in the league. He will thrive at point for my squad. I can’t believe he fell right back into my lap in the third round.
Zach LaVine is another one of my personal favorites, no matter his flaws. While I’m heavily biased and fully realize he plays no defense, the plan is for him to score tons of points and be an elite floor spacer and off-ball creator. My top 4 picks—Towns, LaVine, Graham, and Collins—should be able to carry the scoring load.
Wendell is my backup big and it’s thrilling to have him. He can play a little 4/5 next to either of the starting bigs. I wanted to go pretty heavy on guys genuinely interested in playing defense (or even good at it!) with my last three picks and WCJ fits that, as do Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver. Both of the Wolves’ young wings have clear shooting/scoring problems but they will absolutely grind on the defensive end and eagerly hit the boards. With the scoring already locked up, that’s what I needed.
I kind of feel bad for these other team’s...but not really. This team is going to thrive with various lineup combos.
Jack Borman’s Team (remaining cap space = $ 532,890)
- Steph Curry ($ 40,231,758)
- Mitchell Robinson ($ 1,559,712)
- Cam Reddish ($ 4,245,720)
- PJ Washington ($ 3,381,840)
- Kevin Porter, Jr. ($ 1,290,960)
- Coby White ($ 5,307,120)
- Julius Randle ($ 18,000,000)
You want buckets? My squad will give you plenty of buckets.
I came in assuming John would take KAT with the first pick, which left Curry as the easy selection at number two. From there, my plan was to get a great rim protector as early as possible and then just focus on wing shooters and that can surround Steph on the perimeter. Mitchell Robinson is easily the best rim protector in the draft pool. Given his incredibly cheap contract, I called his name in the second round to ensure that even if I ignored defense for the rest of the draft, I would have the best defensive weapon on the East Coast on my side. In rounds three through seven, I turned on the tunnel vision and went for offensive versatility.
With the greatest shooter of all-time and an athletic, light-footed, rim rolling center, the PnR options are already abundant. When you throw in a popping big like PJ Washington to double drag or double high ball screen with, and shooting on the wing, you can start to put a ton of pressure on the defense. Cam Reddish shot 38.4 percent from deep on 4.6 attempts per game after Christmas Day and an extremely capable wing defender who really came into his own before the season was suspended in March. Kevin Porter Jr. is a dynamic young wing that finished in the 82nd percentile in catch and shoot situations this season. He shot 41.6 percent on those looks and would get a ton of them playing alongside a playmaker like Steph Curry, when he is not cutting and finishing around the rim. He could not play defense if his life depended on it, but hey, neither can I.
I rounded out the roster with my two offensive-centric pieces in Coby White and Julius Randle. White is a threat to put up 30 on any given night and Randle will destroy anyone smaller than him in the post. White is an excellent defender in the PnR, but outside of that, he struggles to defend anyone, much like Randle. With these drafts, offense is always the name of the game, and this squad would have no problem giving the other four teams problems on offense. Come for the buckets and stay for Cam Reddish.
Mike O’Hagan’s Team (remaining cap space = $ 1,702,276)
- Trae Young ($ 6,273,000)
- Kevin Love ($ 28,942,830)
- Clint Capela ($ 14,896,552)
- Luke Kennard ($ 3,827,160)
- Jake Layman ($ 3,581,986)
- Maurice Harkless ($ 11,011,236)
- Collin Sexton ($ 4,764,960)
Is this team going to stop, well, anyone on the wing? Nope. Not a chance, and probably not even your local high school JV team. However, this team is going to score with the best of ‘em. We’ll run a double/Spain PnR with Trae Young initiating, Kevin Love popping, and Clint Capela diving to the rim on 90% of our possessions. When that isn’t there, there’ll be solid shooters waiting to take advantage of over-zealous help defenders or cutters sliding behind someone who gets caught staring at Young up top. The offensive possibilities with this group are endless. The Trae/Love two-man game scenarios are exciting on their own, and only getting more intriguing when you add in the rest of the offensive weapons. I really like the idea of Sexton as a secondary initiator.
Speaking of Sexton, getting Collin with my last pick is something I wish I could say I had planned, but truthfully I didn’t even find him as an available player until my last pick, so... Anyways, the name of the game is getting buckets, and my team will have no issue getting that done. Maybe Capela can provide some rim protection and Harkless can handle the wing occasionally on defense, but this squad is simply going to outscore their opponents.
This is not super related to this specific draft, but how perfect would Luke Kennard be for the Wolves? It’s something we discussed on the Zoom Draft, but man, he would fit great with this team and front office. Just something to chew on moving forward.
Josh Clement’s Team (remaining cap space = $ 352,633)
- Klay Thompson ($ 32,742,000)
- Draymond Green ($ 18,539,130)
- Lauri Markkanen ($ 5,300,400)
- Miles Bridges ($ 3,755,400)
- Kris Dunn ($ 5,348,007)
- Christian Wood ($ 1,645,357)
- Derrick Rose ($ 7,317,073)
I went into this incredibly competitive “Delete Eight” draft with the plan of drafting the good Warriors if possible and avoiding Timberwolves. With Klay Thompson and Draymond falling to me, the draft was a stunning success. I humbly propose that my team would demolish every other Delete Eight teams drafted by my fellow Canis Hoopusites and that this team would have a fighting chance at the 8th seed in the Western Conference. This team will rely on Klay and Lauri to rain fire from deep and have a killer defense to lay waste to these sawft foes. In fact, we have already decided to bring in Tom Thibodeau. This is a Thibs team now (sure, we may be a little light on the wing and our lineups will be funky, but that is a problem for our lord Thibs to figure out).
A few additional takeaways — this exercise prompts a few interesting points, such as the fact that Andrew Wiggins went undrafted, yet D’Angelo Russell (see below) went in the first round. Part of this is certainly a lowered salary cap, as we basically were allowed two high-salary players and then a bunch of rookie deals. I have a feeling the Canis bias against Andrew certainly played a factor.
Also, KAT is a pretty big outlier here — he is by far the most talented player under 25-years old in the Delete 8 pool. Tanking aside, it is pretty ridiculous that his team fell so low that they were not even invited to the bubble when even the Kings and Wizards got the call. Towns certainly has more important things to attend to right now in his life, but without vast improvements on the defensive end next season, he may continue to find himself in make-believe playoffs rather than the real deal.
Kyle Theige’s Team (remaining cap space = $ 597,812)
- D’Angelo Russell ($ 27,285,000)
- Malik Beasley ($ 2,731,714)
- Blake Griffin ($ 34,449,964)
- Naz Reid ($ 898,310)
- Kevin Huerter ($ 2,636,280)
- Jordan McLaughlin ($ 0)
- Darius Garland ($ 6,400,920)
Full transparency — I was the David Kahn of this draft. While I don’t *hate* my roster (I had the last pick in the first round), I clearly messed up on some of the more valuable players (Mitchell Robinson, John Collins, Devonte’ Graham, etc.).
Was I daydreaming about Gersson Rosas when I paired Malik Beasley’s cheap (current) salary with Russell? Maybe. My strategy, much like Minnesota’s, was to spend most of my cap space on two max players, but ideally one of those would have been Klay or Draymond (damn you Josh). Without another stimulus package on the horizon, I was forced to bring in a few additional Wolves — Naz to play center and J-Mac (whose non-guaranteed contract doesn’t count against the cap, so he is technically playing for my team out of the kindness of his own heart) to anchor the backup job behind D-Lo.
Similar to the real Minnesota Timberwolves, my team will have to rely heavily on the success of a five-out system (“WE GOT SHOOTERS” as Hassan Whiteside would say) because our lineups will provide less resistance than a broken retaining wall.
Overall, as Josh mentioned earlier, this exercise highlighted a few interesting points. For one, of the thirty-five players drafted, not once did anyone in the group even remotely drafting Andrew Wiggins. While there is definitely still some talent in Maple Jordan’s game, the cap number was FAR too expensive and would have sunk any chance at building a competitive roster (sound familiar?)
The second biggest takeaway I had from this fantasy draft was something that kind of reminded me of the NFL and young quarterbacks — it is significantly easier to build a competitive roster when you have young talent on rookie deals. Are guys like John Collins, Devonte’ Graham, Mitchell Robinson, Christian Wood, or even Naz Reid the missing pieces to a NBA title? Probably not (at least not right now), but having really good (or even just above average) talent with salaries under eight or nine million dollars is a huge coup for a franchise.
Just look at the Toronto Raptors from a year ago — two of their core players (Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet) combined to make just over $10 million dollars during their championship run. Yes, the defending champs also had Kawhi Leonard, and trying to find the next Siakam is like trying to get Jarrett Culver to shoot 80% from the free throw line, but you get my point.
With Gersson Rosas and the Minnesota Timberwolves heavily invested in their star duo for the foreseeable future, it’ll be imperative for the front office to continue searching for those types of value deals that can supply far more than they demand.