Timberwolves' Draft Board

NBA Commissioner David Stern poses for a photograph with the fifth overall draft pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves,  Ricky Rubio during the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

It was Rubio last year. Who do the Wolves covet most this year?

The draft is coming up, so get excited! Coming up even sooner is the lottery, where we will learn what position we are drafting at for June 24th.

So just for you — because I love you all so, very much — I have compiled all my research — but mostly my opinions — and created this year’s draft board. This will be what I will be checking off while teams are drafting and how I will be ranking how the Wolves do this summer.

Now keep in mind that this board is based on my opinion that resulted from research that I’ve done as well as keeping in mind the immediate needs of the Timberwolves. Now believe me, some of the guys listed probably won’t even be looked at by the Wolves. The front office knows what they know, I know what I know. These are players that would be great for the Wolves or even great for another team therefore they made my board.

After going through, I want to hear what you guys think. Make up your own board, comment on mine, whatever. Just make sure that if you’re going to knock on me for my stupidity or whatever, have a back-up for your argument! If you don’t, you’ll just look stupid while trying to make me look stupid.

So, without further adieu, here you is my take on this year’s draft board for the Timberwolves:

1. Evan Turner, Ohio State

Turner is the clear favorite at the top of the board for the Wolves. He has all the skills to become a special player in the NBA minus his lack of athleticism. But even going off of that, analysts try to emphasize how weak his athleticism is but from what I’ve seen watching Big 10 basketball all year is that he can still make plays despite not being the fastest or strongest guy on the court. He makes them happen with his instinct and intellect of the game. Turner is a small forward who can play point guard because he’s so dang smart. He understands basketball and having that state of mind is very important in the NBA, especially if you planning on becoming one of the league’s best players one day.

2. Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

Favors is a strong, explosive power forward with a knack of doing just about everything well on the floor. He’s a good teammate and does not hold a ego-centric attitude. But the explosive nature to his game is what elevates his draft status because it’s very similar to the style of Phoenix’s Amar’e Stoudemire. Check out this article for the rest of my reasons why Favors should be high on the Wolves’ draft board.

3. John Wall, Kentucky

Not as high as most would expect, right? Well, getting the top pick in this draft might not necessarily be the best thing for the Wolves and I’ve said this multiple times. Plain and simple, we don’t need another point guard. Wall may be terrific one day and I’d love to see him in Minnesota but if we do obtain him, a lot of things would have to happen to our roster before things start to look peachy, so to say. You can’t start next season with Flynn, Sessions, Wall and Rubio’s rights next season. It is true, you can have too many point guards.

4. Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

Flynn’s friend from Syracuse would be a great addition to the team. Johnson has amazing athleticism and a blooming jump shot from the outside. He hasn’t proved to be an outstanding defender especially in one-on-one situations his physical attributes say that he could excel defensively at the next level despite playing the dreaded Syracuse zone all season long. Johnson will help the Wolves a lot next season but I think a goal of the front office this offseason is to find a shooting guard as opposed to a small forward to improve the wing-play because that way Brewer can move from the 2 to the 3, his natural position and Johnson plays the 3.

5. James Anderson, Oklahoma St.

A very productive guard in the Big 12, Anderson is one of the older players projected to go in the lottery this year. His experience and talent intertwine nicely thus giving the Wolves a chance at a mature, skillful player. Anderson would come in and improve the Wolves’ outside shooting numbers that are solely relying on what Ellington and Brewer can do as of now. He plays shooting guard, so that means Brewer would move to the small forward position. Anderson has been compared to as this year’s James Harden of the Oklahoma City and he played a big part in their run in the NBA playoffs this season. Keep this name in mind, guys, because he would be a great pick.

6. Ed Davis, North Carolina

Similar to Favors in being an undersized forward, Davis would bring more defensive intimidation to the Wolves. He averaged 2.7 blocks per game this season and did this by utilizing his long arms. Davis’ offensive game is improving but still needs work, especially in his low post game. Drafting Davis, like Wall and many others, could result in a mess in terms of moving the roster around. Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Darko, and Nikola Pekovich would have to be traded/moved if Davis is brought in.

7. Cole Aldrich, Kansas

His stock seems to be dropping lately but he would fill a need — or potential need — for the Wolves next season. Depending on if they decide to re-sign Darko or not — which they probably will,– Aldrich gives depth to the center position because we all know things aren’t working out for Ryan Hollins here. Aldrich is a true center with dominating defensive skills. His post work needs help but it will improve with his time in the NBA, especially if he gets the chance to work with Kurt Rambis and Bill Laimbeer.

8. Demarcus Cousins, Kentucky

So, here’s the story on Cousins. He was the most efficient player in the NCAA and his numbers are quite impressive. He plays hard and dominates at times. He plays with raw aggression that comes off as plain, old frightening sometimes to opponents. But does he play with too much aggression? It has been said that Cousins has struggled with mental health issues and anger is a direct result from it. He is not a team player and has been caught yelling back at coach John Callipari on the sidelines this season with Kentucky. Do the Wolves really want a guy like this? Especially if next year is another losing one which already brings the morale of a team down. I don’t think so but there’s no denying his talent.

9. Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

The most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. Period. Whiteside is a legitimate 7-foot center that dominates the paint defensively like Dwight Howard. But in no way is he your average 7-footer with the conditioning and running skills of a hippo. Some describe that he looks like a gazelle when running the court. Now that’s impressive. But with all the positive intangibles, Whiteside has a lot of red flags. His offensive game needs help and he too has attitude problems like Cousins. It will be interesting to see where he goes because it could range from as high as top 3 all the way to the 20’s.

10. Gordon Hayward, Butler

There’s no denying that this small-town product out of Indiana helped lead Butler to the National Championship this year. For that very reason, he has been rocketing up many team’s draft boards, including mine. He’s a big small forward with a knack for outside shooting. A white kid with a stroke from distance? How ironic? Hayward plays very hard on both ends on the floor. My favorite tourney moment was when he locked down on a player — forgive me, my memory is terrible — and forced the turnover in the final seconds to give Butler the win. I think Hayward would give some winning mentality to the Wolves and they almost need that more-so than talent alone.

11. Greg Monroe, Georgetown

The big man decided to come out this year and, at least to me, that was a mistake. He still has a ways to go in terms of developing but he already has the skill-set to become dominant player one day in this league. Monroe lacks intensity when he plays, which is a problem but he can make up for some of that by playing intelligently. Monroe simply wouldn’t fit the Wolves system unless they do what I said in Ed Davis’ profile and trade one or two of their current big men to make room for this Georgetown behemoth. Can you name any other great centers that came out of Georgetown? I know you can!

12. Xavier Henry, Kansas

Although possibly immature and raw in respect to his game, Henry is a tremendous shooter and good defender to boot. But here’s another classic example of a one-and-done college guy who could’ve used one more year. Henry would fit in well with the Wolves but the role he would play is already occupied by Wayne Ellington; the off the bench spark that can start a rally with his deep range. He’s a little iffy in my book.

13. Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

As hard as is name is to spell, it’s almost harder to type. Nonetheless, Aminu is a great athlete and the Wolves are lacking considerably in that category. Aminu could come in and improve the Wolves’ perimeter play immediately but will definitely take a few years to blossom into the type of player he could be. Not exactly what the Wolves are looking for but solid pick indeed.

14. Paul George, Fresno St.

Aside from James Anderson, I think George could be this year’s diamond in the rough. Not many know of him since he attended Fresno St. where basketball is just a second-thought but George had a great year there. He reminds me a lot of Trevor Ariza or Danny Granger, both solid players in the NBA. Again, George is a small forward but he would probably need at least a year of coming off the bench anyways to develop the right way.

15. Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

Yet another big man on the big board. Udoh is an interesting product that offers good size and athleticism from the power forward position. He could play as a center but may be a bit undersized at 6’10”. I think Udoh would be a good pick later in the first round for the Wolves but probably not lottery bound in the Wolves’ case.

16. Jordan Crawford, Xavier

After watching him squash my beloved Golden Gophers in the NCAA tournament, I knew that this guy could lead the “X-men” deep into the tourney. He did his best before running out of steam but did you catch that performance against Kansas St. in the Sweet Sixteen? Check it out and tell me what you think. This guy could be a stud.

17. Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

Just like Henry, Stephenson is a young guy who may need time to develop at the next level. But I seem to like Stephenson a little more than Henry even (Henry is higher on my board though for two reasons, 1) He came from Kansas and Bill Self and, 2) Most people have Henry ranked way higher than Stephenson, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.) Stephenson has more of a polished overall game that includes taking it strong to the rim than Henry does and still they shot nearly the same percentages this season. Not great from 3-point land but could definitely improve. He would be of great value with that 16th pick for the Wolves.

18. Quincy Pondexter, Washington

If you can, go and do some research on this guy. He’s a senior at Washington but had a very productive fourth year and is deserving of a first round choice. A lot of mocks have him falling to the second round but not for me. I’d take him with that 16th overall if I were the Wolves. He would fit in well here and would bring some solid talent to the table. If they pass on him with the 16th overall, he could still be there at 23 (Utah Jazz pick owed to us) or maybe the beginning of round two but that’s pushing it.

19. Eliot Williams, Memphis

This Duke transfer proved to be a strong teammate during an off year for the Memphis Tigers. He can score at will but will he be able to do the same at the next level? If he can, the Wolves could have another solid guy at the shooting guard position as well as one that could become a good starter in this league down the road for years to come.

20. Soloman Alabi, Florida St.

Alabi is taller than most in this draft class but the question is what he can do with it. He is a force underneath on defense but definitely needs to improve on offense before becoming a legitimate starting center in this league. He would be another great choice for the Wolves with that mid-first rounder but he needs time to develop, pretty much like most of the guys remaining on this board.

21. Larry Sanders, VCU

He lacks experience having come from a smaller conference/school but Sanders is a force on the defensive end. A little undersized for a center at 6’10”, Sanders still commands attention while in the paint and is a tough obstacle to overcome when arriving at the rim. Offensive game needs work but Wolves’ coaches will definitely help out there.

22. Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

Now, I know this would be terribly ill-logical for the Wolves to grab him but I think he’s something special. Only 6’1″, Bledsoe made a name for himself by playing alongside John Wall and, at times, outplaying this year’ super-stud. He can shoot from deep and hit it efficiently and I think whichever team grabs him is getting a great deal.

23. Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

Patterson is overrated. Enough said. I think he’s good but not “lottery good” like most mocks suggest. Wolves should also stay away from him as well but he’s still on the list due to everyone else’s opinion.

24. Daniel Orton, Kentucky

Yup, three Wildcats in a row and three Wildcats the Wolves probably shouldn’t touch. If it comes down to it, Orton wouldn’t be bad to take with the Utah Jazz’s late first rounder but I doubt the Wolves will even keep that pick. He’s a solid defender but needs a little TLC while in the bigs.

25. Avery Bradley, Texas

He proved to be a scoring machine at Texas but he will need to show coaches and everyone alike that he can do that in the NBA. He stands only 6’2″ which is tiny for a shooting guard, so he will be over-matched night in and night out. But if he’s on, he’s hot and can score at will. Allen Iverson, anybody? Maybe minus the ridiculous handles? You tell me!

26. Damion James, Texas

This Texas senior had a strong four  year run in the lone state and looks primed and ready for the NBA. I predict him to be a solid all-around player but probably will never bloom into a superstar. His potential has a lower ceiling than most but I still think he will be solid to say the least. He’s just not what the Wolves are looking for.

27. Willie Warren, Oklahoma

He produced two solid years at OU and is ready for the big time. A solid choice beyond the lottery and maybe even the first 20 picks, Warren will give any team a solid spark off the bench as he works his way towards becoming a legit starter. His size is a plus especially if he plays point. He would be a solid back-up point guard for the Wolves but they would need to move Sessions immediately after drafting Warren.

28. Stanley Robinson, UConn

Robinson’s stock dropped dramatically after a down year from the UConn program but he’s still a solid player. I think he will struggle at the next level until he  finds his niche though. Until then, I advise the Wolves to stay away from him unless he falls to the second round.

29. Dexter Pittman, Texas

Pittman is the most underrated big man in this draft in my opinion. He’s incredibly strong and a great rebounder. He has his faults on offense but how many times have I said that already? Solid pick in the second if the Wolves so desire.

30. Luke Babbitt, Nevada

He’s tough. He’s scores. Solid second round pick

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