clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Prospects Timberwolves Fans Should Watch During March Madness - Part 1

The Wolves sent their 2023 first-round pick to the Jazz in the Rudy Gobert trade, but figure to be active in the second round of June’s NBA Draft.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 14 Creighton at Providence Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For a myriad of reasons, the 2023 NBA Draft won’t be as big of a focal point for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t important.

The Timberwolves have proven on a pretty consistent basis now that they are more than adept at finding and developing talent from the second round. As the tournament kicks off this week, here are a few prospects to keep an eye on that the Timberwolves could target in the second round.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 04 Missouri at Mississippi State Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

D’Moi Hodge – SG Missouri Tigers

At 6’4” 188-pounds, D’Moi Hodge is a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body. Despite lacking the size of most NBA shooting guards, Hodge produced at a high-level in areas that translate pretty consistently to the NBA. This season, Hodge averaged 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 2.6 steals while shooting 47.9% from the floor (10.7 attempts), 40.1% from three (7.2 attempts), and 72.7% from the line (2.3 attempts). Hodge is a player who would be a terrific plug-and-play complimentary piece. He doesn’t need the ball, he is a reliable shooter off the catch, and he plays tremendous defense.

Hodge is an extremely low maintenance offensive player. He doesn’t need the ball, and he rarely creates much of anything when he does have it. What he does do, though, is shoot the crap out of it. This season, Hodge scored 1.175 points per possession (PPP) spotting up (91st percentile), 1.282 PPP on cuts (66th percentile), 1.333 PPP in transition (89th percentile), and 1.23 PPP shooting off the catch (87th percentile), per Synergy.

Off-ball shooters frequently tend to be one trick ponies, but Hodge more than holds his own on the defensive end by forcing a ton of turnovers. This year, Hodge’s steal rate of 5.2 ranked sixth in the entire country, and he was the only player in the country to have a steal rate over 5.0 and shoot over 40% from three, per Barttorvik. Since 2008, only three other players have hit those marks while shooting more than 4.0 3-pointers per 100 possessions. Hodge is incredibly efficient and effective at what he does. He makes threes and forces turnovers, two things that the Timberwolves need.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 05 MVC Arch Madness - Drake vs Bradley Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tucker DeVries – SG Drake Bulldogs

Tucker DeVries is one of the darlings of the draft community. At 6’7” 210-pounds, DeVries is a lethal shooter with promising offensive versatility. DeVries averaged 19 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals with 45.7/38.7/83.8 shooting splits while leading Drake to a tough first round matchup against the Miami Hurricanes.

The main selling point with DeVries is the shooting. The raw percentage may not be overwhelming, but DeVries took a lot of high-difficulty shots and was the offensive engine for Drake. With a lesser role, those percentages will only rise. DeVries scored 1.1 PPP shooting off the catch (68th percentile) and 1.09 PPP shooting off the dribble. Based on the quality of his shots, DeVries was expected to score 0.89 points per shot attempt. However, he scored 1.09 (0.2 over expected) proving that he not only took a lot of tough shots but made a lot of them.

Unlike most deadly shooters, DeVries isn’t uncomfortable putting the ball on the floor. He did score 1.097 PPP spotting up (84th percentile), but he also scored 1.165 PPP running the pick-and-roll (98th percentile), 1.329 PPP in transition (89th percentile), 1.000 PPP running off screens (66th percentile), and 0.822 PPP in isolation (55th percentile).

Drake has a tough matchup against Miami in the first round, but it will be a great opportunity to evaluate DeVries. Miami has a lot of experienced and athletic guards. If he can continue to put up numbers efficiently against them, it could be a great omen for how his game could translate to the NBA.

Duke v Miami Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Isaiah Wong – G Miami Hurricanes

Isaiah Wong’s name has bounced around the draft for a few years now, but this season, he seems to have finally put it all together. Wong measures at 6’4” 184-pounds and averaged 16.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals on 45.3/37.8/83.6 shooting splits. Wong is an athletic combo guard who can do a bit of everything on both ends of the floor.

Offensively, Wong has transitioned from a more traditional point guard into an effective shooting guard. Shooting 37.8% from three on 4.5 attempts per game, Wong is easily having the best shooting season of his college career. From an off-ball perspective, Wong also scored 1.011 PPP spotting up (71st percentile) and 1.18 PPP shooting off the catch (81st percentile). He still needs to learn how to move more effectively off-ball, but the shooting improvement is very real. While Wong isn’t quite as effective as an off-ball shooter as Hodge, he has more on-ball equity given his history as a point guard. This season, Wong scored 0.929 PPP running the pick-and-roll (83rd percentile), 1.388 PPP in transition (92nd percentile), 0.889 PPP in isolation (65th percentile), and 0.97 PPP shooting off the dribble (81st percentile).

Defensively, Wong can provide a lot of versatility given his athleticism. He isn’t the defensive menace that Hodge is, but he is still effective. When Wong was on the floor, Miami had a defensive rating of 103 (153rd). This rating jumped to 110.1 (294th) when he wasn’t on the floor. Wong isn’t a defensive specialist, but his size and athleticism give him versatility defending on the wing.

Villanova v Creighton Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Trey Alexander – SG Creighton Bluejays

The Creighton Bluejays have been a roller coaster experience this season. Despite their inconsistencies, their 6’4” 190-pound shooting guard Trey Alexander has shown tremendous improvement in his game. After a surprisingly productive freshman season that ended up being less efficient than it felt, Alexander returned and improved his game across the board.

Averaging 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 steals on 45.3/44/81.3 shooting splits, Alexander looks like Creighton’s best NBA prospect. The most important leap that Alexander made was with his shooting. As a freshman, Alexander shot 28.1% from three on 1.8 attempts. This season, he shot 44% on 4.3 attempts. Massive spikes in percentages can be misleading, but not typically when accompanied with a subsequently impressive spike in volume. To further illustrate Alexander’s shooting improvement, he scored 1.231 PPP spotting up (94th percentile), 1.000 PPP running off screens (66th percentile), and 1.34 PPP shooting off the catch (94th percentile).

In the short term on offense, Alexander should be a quality off-ball shooter at the minimum. The real intrigue comes with his long-term potential as a guard who can also provide some on-ball juice. This season, Alexander scored 0.923 PPP running the pick-and-roll (83rd percentile), 0.90 PPP shooting off the dribble (71st percentile), and 0.833 PPP in isolation (57th percentile). Alexander isn’t an explosive athlete, so his on-ball equity may be lacking until he truly develops a more advanced handle, but the all-around shooting improvements he’s made are very real.

On top of the offensive intrigue, Alexander is a stout defender. He’s excellent at navigating screens, has great instincts, and stellar footwork. When he’s on the court, Creighton’s defensive rating is 89.1 (6th). When he leaves the court, their defensive rating skyrockets to 104 (172nd). He keeps opponents out of the lane and does a great job of contesting shots without fouling. Alexander will have a tough matchup against presumed first round pick Terquavion Smith of North Carolina State. If they win that, then he’ll likely face a potential top-10 pick in Keyonte George. Alexander has a great opportunity to force people to start paying more attention to him.