This is a three-part series detailing the three mediums through which the Wolves can improve their roster: Free agency, trades and the draft; and who they could possibly target via those outlets.
After already writing about free agency and potential trades, that leaves but one medium to acquire a player that brings instantaneous results, albeit even to the smallest degree, during this oh-so important offseason, and that is the NBA Draft. It’s easy to get swept into the flurry of buzz that any major league sports’s draft brings but I want to take a step back and express my opinion. I do believe the Wolves will end up moving this pick because it could help sweeten our end of any trade offers — I said in another piece that we have very little of value to trade away outside of Derrick Williams. But if they decide that the trade offers aren’t worth it, the Wolves actually sit in a nice spot in this draft. Sure, it’s not as deep as everyone originally predicted but there are 20-25 guys that should go in the top 15. That means there is going to be some worthy talent sitting at #18.
There is one big difference in approach looking forward to this draft. The Wolves don’t want “potential” with this pick, though, which is usually the case drafting likely anybody. Rather, they need a rookie who can come in and help right away. It’s no easy feat finding a rookie with the professionalism, skill and maturity to step into the NBA game and contribute right away, which is mostly why I believe the Wolves will look elsewhere to improve.
But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here’s are just a few options that I think the Wolves could take at 18, who could come in and help this team immediately.
1: Terrence Ross, SG, Wash.
Just as I say the Wolves would be better off selecting a senior from a solid program or someone with a strong character that may help you now more than later, I choose Ross as the #1 target. Ross is leaving Washington as a sophomore, so he’s more experienced than a freshman. The thing I like about Ross, though, is how much he can possibly cure for a team that needs many remedies.
Ross is a huge shooting guard or an average sized small forward. His length and athleticism combine to give him one of the more NBA ready bodies amongst other shooting guards available in the draft. But beyond his size, Ross is one of the better shooters in this draft. There’s nothing more the Wolves need than a knock-down shooter from behind the arc. That would take a ton of pressure off both Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. There’s so much more that Ross can do on top of his shooting too. He’s a good defender and actually a decent ball handler in pick-and-roll situations.
Ross is probably the best possibility at #18 for the Wolves. All of the intangibles listed though have helped boost his stock into a potential late lottery pick. There’s a good possibility he won’t be available but if he is, Ross gives the Wolves the best mix of value in terms of NBA ready and star potential for that mid-first round pick.
2: John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
The skill that translates best from college to the NBA is shooting. A great shooter is a great shooter, no matter what league they play in. That’s why Jenkins’ talents are very serviceable.
Jenkins is a junior out of Vanderbilt, where he averaged over 19 ppg the last two seasons. All three years at Vandy, Jenkins nailed better than 40-percent of his treys, including his freshman year when he nearly hit 50-percent of his three attempts. Just like all great deep-ball shooters, Jenkins also hits his free throws, which the Wolves desperately need from their 2-guard.
Overall, Jenkins has a lot of JJ Reddick in him. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing because Reddick is making good money in Orlando but they’re both one-dimensional players. The Wolves wouldn’t mind that when that one-dimension will improve a category they need badly but Jenkins at #18 doesn’t leave a whole lot of room in terms of value. He’s a decent target.
3: Kevin Murphy, SG, Tennessee Tech
Look him up. For those of you who don’t watch/follow college basketball as religiously as I do, a quick Google search and minimal research will tell you just who this guy is.
Murphy is a senior graduating from Tennessee Tech, where he led the team in scoring with 21 ppg. His offensive skills are really impressive of a guy at such a small program. He’s selective with his shots, something often overlooked when reviewing college tape, even though he’s known as a volume shooter. To get get looks like that, you have to be creative, and he can do just that. He possesses this turnaround jumper, sort of Kobe-esque, that was so deadly and efficient and nearly impossible to defend.
But there’s a reason he played for Tennessee Tech. Murphy has significant flaws to his game, including lackluster defense and serious inefficiencies at the charity stripe. I still love Murphy’s pro prospects because he’s a leader. He’s had to carry a lame program on his back for four years, saying a lot about his character. Murphy is a definite reach at #18 but he’s a player that you reach for, if that makes sense.