Predicting Pick #18

The draft is very special to NBA fans, especially Wolves fans. Even without a lottery pick, the hype is still brewing and the conversations keep flowing. This is a guest piece from Nick Bullock, an experienced sports journalism guru. Like I said, the draft is so special that it needs a special guest. Call Nick our Draft Pundit, and this won’t be his last piece.

When I was asked to share my thoughts on whom the Timberwolves would draft this year, I realized I would first have to take my best guess at all 17 preceding picks.

I know which player I hope the Wolves draft. I have a hunch which player David KAAAHN would land in a perfect world — or at least in his world. And, of course, we all know who will be the No. 1 pick. But I hadn’t thought much about picks No. 2–17.

First, as an aside: I am not Jonathan Givony, Chad Ford or Jerry Zgoda. I have not attended the NBA draft combine. I do not have any scouts on speed dial. All of these picks are based merely on what I have seen from each player. The picks represent what I think each team will do, not what each team should do. Finally, I will not offer an explanation for picks No. 1–17 because this is, after all, a Timberwolves blog.

To the mock draft:

  1. Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF
  2. Bobcats – Bradley Beal, SG
  3. Wizards – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF
  4. Cavaliers – Harrison Barnes, SF
  5. Kings – Thomas Robinson, PF
  6. Trailblazers – Damian Lillard, PG
  7. Warriors – Andre Drummond, C
  8. Raptors – Dion Waiters, SG
  9. Pistons – Meyers Leonard, C
  10. Hornets – Kendall Marshall, PG
  11. Trailblazers – Jeremy Lamb, SG
  12. Bucks – Tyler Zeller, C
  13. Suns – Austin Rivers, SG
  14. Rockets – Jared Sullinger, PF
  15. 76ers – Perry Jones III, PF
  16. Rockets – Arnett Moultrie, PF/C
  17. Mavericks – Terrence Ross, SG

Here we are. And here is what we know:

  • Minnesota desperately needs perimeter scoring.
  • Luke Ridnour is a point guard, not a two-guard, even though he played the position admirably.
  • There is no SG or SF in KAAAHN’s mind; both are simply “wings.”
  • Despite Pek’s quantum leap forward in his second year, KAAAHN still seeks a shot blocking big.
  • Rick Adelman was openly reluctant to do so, but he still gave Derrick Williams 21 percent of the team’s minutes at the three, according to Williams can be considered nothing but an abject failure at the position so far, though I hold out hope that a slimmer Williams may be able to defend the position. Adelman probably lacks such faith.

All of this leads me to think the pick will end up being Quincy Miller, former Baylor small forward. I also have a nagging fear that KAAAHN likes former St. John’s small forward Moe Harkless at this spot.

But let’s focus on Miller. Like his teammate Perry Jones III, Miller never quite lived up to the hype his freshman year at Baylor. He averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game. He shot 44.7 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three and 81.6 percent from the line. The 6-foot-9 forward does not appear to be the most explosive athlete, but perhaps this was because he was still recovering from an ACL tear suffered during his senior year of high school.

Miller has a game that leaves you wanting more. He has a pretty good handle for a small forward — something Wolves fans long for after watching Wes Johnson turn the ball over on his every foray into the paint.

Despite a low and slow release, he possesses a relatively accurate jump shot and should be able to hit the NBA three after a year or two. The poor release may not be a huge issue because Miller is quite tall for a small forward.

Miller was able to get his own shot with relative ease at the college level, but because of his lack of explosiveness and average jump shot, I have my doubts as to whether that will translate. He also tends to rely on a bit too much on his pull-up jump shot. It often went in because of his height advantage, but that won’t necessarily be the case in the pros. He also overused a pretty looking drop step that he followed with an up-and-under move to his left, which he shot with his right hand. By the end of the season, defenders keyed on the move, staying home on the second move and forcing him to shoot a contested fade away. Again, he often made it, but he’d be better off using that move to post up smaller forwards and draw them in the air, instead of picking up his dribble off the drive.

Nevertheless, he has the makings of a decent offensive arsenal and should be able to score consistently at the next level. Defending opposing small forwards may be another matter.

Because of his skinny frame he was routinely pushed off the defensive boards while at Baylor. His impressive length (his 9-foot-1 standing reach was fifth-tallest at the combine) will help on the defensive end, but his middling foot speed will likely prevent him from every being more than merely average. Although there is a possibility that could also improve as he distances himself from the ACL surgery.

This is an imperfect comparison, but the way he moves with the ball reminds me of a poor man’s (a very poor man’s) Kevin Durant.

Perhaps, I have been a bit too harsh. I do think Miller could be a third scoring option on a winning team, and a definite improvement at the small forward position for these Timberwolves. In fact, if the draft plays out just as I projected above — doubtful, I realize — this is the pick I would make, not just the pick I expect the Wolves to make.

Most draftniks seem to think KAAAHN would still prefer to move this pick, perhaps packaged with Williams, to bring in a veteran wing. This is the same old song and dance as years past, so I remain skeptical the pick will be moved.

As for the player I think KAAAHN hopes will fall and the player I hope will fall? Well, let’s just save those for a future post.

About Jonah Steinmeyer

Been a Wolves fan for probably way too long to be considered a sane human anymore. An avid golfer in my free time.