The 2023 NBA Draft is a good time to be looking for role-playing wings in the second round. There are enough guys with the potential to play both sides of the floor and fit around stars that a few will fall into the latter portion of the second-round, where the Minnesota Timberwolves sit with the 53rd overall pick, their only selection in the draft.
The Wolves are relatively solid at the position, with Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Taurean Prince (as well as Nickeil Alexander-Walker, if he returns) all capable of playing the two or the three. But it’s never a bad idea to go after more 3-and-D wings, the most valuable non-star player archetype.
Here are some 2023 draft prospects the Wolves could target at No. 53 to bolster their wing depth:
(Listed in alphabetical order by last name so no, these aren’t rankings. All stats from Sports-Reference unless otherwise stated.)
Jaylen Clark | UCLA | 6-foot-5 | 204 pounds
Clark was possibly the best defensive player in the entire country last season as a junior. He averaged 2.6 steals per game and put up an insane 5.1% steal percentage playing man-to-man defense in a Power 5 conference. That’s why he earned the Pac-12, National Association of Basketball Coaches, and Naismith Defensive Player of the Year awards.
This is such a fun play by both Jaylen Clark and Maxwell Lewis. Clark's on-ball DEF is awesome as he splits the handoff and shows off his quick feet and hips staying with Lewis the whole time. Lewis shows off his shooting prowess and improvement handling high pressure. Fun stuff. pic.twitter.com/5yubX0FzyZ— Tyler Metcalf (@tmetcalf11) November 30, 2022
His ability to defend both on- and off-ball and his finishing (shot 67.4% at the rim in 2022-23 per Synergy) made him an impactful role player. To reach that level in the NBA he will need to improve on his weaknesses — namely, his shooting. His mechanics are stiff and square in a way even his mediocre 32.9% mark from downtown doesn’t comprehensively capture. Combine that with his lack of burst with the ball, and you have a recipe for a player opposing teams may choose to ignore on the offensive end.
The former UCA star also needs to prove he is healthy after an Achilles injury ended his campaign before the postseason. Plus, at 6-foot-5 in shoes and 204 pounds with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he’s a bit undersized to play the wing. Still, there may not be a better skill left at this point in the draft than Clark’s defensive prowess.
Keyontae Johnson | Kansas State | 6-foot-5 | 239 pounds
Johnson made a big return to the floor this past season. After collapsing on the court in a game while at Florida in December 2020, Johnson missed most of the 2021 and 2022 seasons due to a heart issue. He was cleared by doctors and suited up with Kansas State in 2022-23 and played a huge role in the Wildcats’ Elite Eight run, teaming up with Markquis Nowell for plenty of fun highlights along the way. After a successful season with no health hiccups, the high-flying Johnson was cleared by the NBA’s Fitness to Play panel, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
MARKQUIS NOWELL TO KEYONTAE JOHNSON OH MY GOODNESS pic.twitter.com/pGyZxVNxXh— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 24, 2023
There’s a lot to like about Johnson from a role player perspective: He is a career 38.9% 3-point shooter, cuts well and has a frame (7-foot wingspan, nearly 240 pounds) that carries potential for defensive versatility. Still, he’s never posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and his lack of separation traits compound his poor decision-making.
At 23 years old, you’d like for Johnson to be a bit further along in reading the game, but he obviously wasn’t at fault for the time and reps he missed. He could be an intriguing match with Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels as a wing who can guard up a position or two while providing secondary scoring.
Seth Lundy | Penn State | 6-foot-5 | 214 pounds
As Penn State made its runs to the Big Ten Tournament final and the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Lundy earned a corresponding boost in his draft stock. Lundy will be a test case in how spot-up shooting can carry a player in the NBA.
Lundy averaged 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds as a senior, and his most intriguing skill is his shooting. He made 40% of his 3-pointers this year on fairly high volume and helped to answer some questions about his movement shooting with an impressive 8-for-11 mark from downtown between two scrimmages at the combine.
Now Seth Lundy showing the range as he hops into the deep C&S 3 pic.twitter.com/zseQPkEyUq— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) May 17, 2023
Another concern Lundy must address is what he does outside of shooting and rebounding his position. He’s a solid defender, not a spectacular one, and he didn’t clear a 1.o per-game average in assists, steals or blocks.
The 6-foot-10 wingspan and 215-pound frame gives Lundy some versatility on defense even though he measured in at 6-foot-4 without shoes. We’ll see if he can fit that 3-and-D archetype that is all the rage in the NBA.
Jordan Miller | Miami (Fla.) | 6-foot-5 | 192 pounds
Miller was one of the faces of the Hurricanes’ Final Four run, which featured his perfect Elite Eight performance against Texas — 27 points on seven-for-seven shooting and 13-for-13 from the free throw line. His string of performances put him on the map nationally and elevated his draft stock.
With a 61.6% true shooting percentage and a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, Miller was a super efficient Power 5 wing. He finishes and cuts well and can be trusted to make plays with the ball in his hands. His shooting finally hit a passable enough level (35.2% from deep) so as not to hinder the other aspects of his game.
Jordan Miller just keeps doing some really cool stuff in every game he plays. pic.twitter.com/F4NCltYj88— Tyler Metcalf (@tmetcalf11) February 23, 2023
However, the question marks with that shot will continue to linger as the biggest doubt hovering over his NBA translation. In addition, he measured a bit shorter than you’d want from a non-elite athlete on the wing (although the 7-foot wingspan should help with that) and turns 24 in January.
Perhaps there isn’t as much room for growth with Miller as there is for other prospects, but he has plenty of skills and big-game experience that help bench players make their mark.
Jordan Walsh | Arkansas | 6-foot-7 | 204 pounds
If Clark isn’t the best defender who could be available late in the second round, it’s Walsh. The freshman had a tough year fitting into the roller coaster that was Arkansas men’s basketball, but Walsh’s energetic defense was the one constant to his game.
The Dallas native’s role fluctuated a bit throughout the year, but Hogs Head Coach Eric Musselman turned to him in the NCAA Tournament because he defends his ass off. His activity was a key in the Razorbacks’ upset over Kansas. The reason behind those inconsistent opportunities, though, was Walsh’s struggles on offense.
Walsh shot just 27.8% from beyond the arc, turned the ball over more than he assisted on baskets and struggled to make anything happen with the ball in his hands. He’s just a severely limited offensive player right now, and his lack of touch doesn’t lend much optimism to that changing for the better.
Still, you don’t get 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-2-inch wingspan all that often. Walsh is the rare player who could make an impact defensively as a rookie; the issue is that his offense may prevent him from seeing the court to make that impact.