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Minnesota Timberwolves Trade Up For Duke Wing Wendell Moore Jr. At No. 26 Overall

Minnesota sent Houston No. 29 and two future second-round picks to acquire the Duke standout.

North Carolina v Duke Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired Duke junior wing Wendell Moore Jr. — the No. 26 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft — in a deal with the Houston Rockets that will send No. 29 in this year’s draft and two future second-round selections, per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.

Moore Jr. started all 39 games for the Blue Devils this past season, scoring 13.4 points on 50.0/41.3/80.5 shooting splits, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 rebounds to 1.9 turnovers, 1.4 steals and 0.2 blocks over 33.9 minutes per game. He ranked No. 26 on my personal big board and No. 38 on the Canis Hoopus composite big board.

One of five 2022 NBA Draftees in Duke’s starting lineup, the two-way force became one of Coach K’s most trusted players — and for good reason. He was a fantastic secondary playmaker who made smart, efficient decisions with the ball in his hands. Moore Jr.’s 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked fourth among the 45 players on my draft board. His lack of burst off the dribble may limit his upside as a playmaker that can get two feet in the paint and either make accurate dump-off passes to bigs or spray it out to shooters, but even if that’s the case, there is still plenty to like as an ancillary rotation player.

When he wasn’t playmaking, he was making shots at an efficient clip. Moore’s 50/40/80 shooting splits translated to a 60.5% true shooting percentage, which ranks 13th among those 45. Moore Jr. shoots an effortless 3 ball with good, quick mechanics and was eager to let it rip on catch-and-shoots (45%). He already moves very well without the ball, but can become an even more impactful offensive player if he improves as a shooter running off screens.

Defense is perhaps where Moore Jr. could provide an immediate impact. Coach K entrusted the 6-foot-5, 216-pound Moore Jr. to guard elite ball-handlers and Moore Jr. answered the call. With the help of his 7-foot-1 wingspan, he allowed 0.58 points per possession to opposing pick-and-roll ball handlers and 0.62 points per isolation on defense, both of which are insanely impressive marks that rank among the very best defenders in college basketball.

Moore Jr. will be 21 years old as a rookie, but he will come into the NBA as a very polished, well-rounded player that has immediately translatable skills as a point-of-attack defender and 3-point shooter that can support Jordan McLaughlin’s playmaking off the bench on the second side.