More Draft/Lottery/Offseason fun Pt. I

I have a lot of built up thoughts on the upcoming offseason and they got kicked off with last night’s Draft Lottery. This is the first piece identifying the current situation and makeup of the Timberwolves heading into the offseason. The second part will highlight moves that I want to see done and what should/could go down. Also be sure to read Derek’s pieces on last night’s draft lottery both here and here. Enjoy!

I look up to Chad Ford.

That might sound a bit ridiculous to be inspired by a reporter, who really just makes a living on judging young kids far beyond their basketball acumen to give the general public a small glimpse into the world of basketball talent evaluation. I mean, if you really ponder things, what would ESPN be like if Chad Ford wasn’t real? You probably wouldn’t know any end-of-first-round hopefuls or second-round squeezes. You might not even be able to judge the lottery potentials, depending on your college basketball knowledge.

But all that doesn’t really matter, right? With no Chad Ford, you probably would’ve still woken up and stumbled out of bed this morning, the dawn after the NBA Draft Lottery. You’re likely going through your day without any major hiccups. And there’s a very good chance you lay your head back down to your cool pillow later tonight, still breathing, still living.

Enter Chad Ford in between those events, though; from the moment you woke up, to your general work day to the time you lay back to bed, Chad Ford is there to fill in the gaps.

For the next month, we all have the honor to live out our days and check into Chad Ford’s meddling in the NBA Draft. The day after the Draft Lottery, where we saw the Timberwolves stay put, while two other teams soared into the top 3, Chad Ford released his first official mock draft, where teams are solid on their position — for now, that is.

Here’s what he has the Wolves doing as of today:

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Things haven’t changed much since Ford’s last mock prediction. McCullom still seems to be everyone’s prediction for the Timberwolves, who are now slated in the ninth slot in the lottery. There’s a few reasons to this. One is that everyone believes that McCullom will without a doubt be available at that spot. That’s most likely true but seeing that he is one of the best shooters in this draft, his draft stock could rise quickly by the time it comes to draft. Secondly, McCullom is coming off a broken foot that sidelined him for the bulk of his senior year at Lehigh. He’s healthy now and apparently feeling well, but he hasn’t played college basketball since January 1st, which is always alarming.

As for Ford’s prediction on the 26th pick, I can’t tell you a damn thing about Mr. Sergey Karasev. Ford says he’s a tremendous shooter from Russia, which could help him make the transition easy. But odds are this kid isn’t ready for NBA competition quite yet or may not be that helpful for a little while.

As I said earlier, Ford makes his living by simply guessing who should go where in the NBA Draft. It’s an educated-guessing game at best but still keeps all of us intrigued. The biggest issue I have with any mock draft is that you can’t prepare for the prospect of trades or free agency thoughts or overall roster moves that a team is already scheming up long before the Draft Lottery takes place.

The Wolves now have Flip Saunders at the helm in place of David Kahn. The first thing any new GM does with a team is make their mark and steer the ship into their direction. That usually means firing a coach or tweaking the roster a bit — or a lot. Well, as long as he doesn’t retire, Rick Adelman will be back. Saunders can’t fire a hall of fame coach, who actually has enjoyed his time with a below-average squad. That leaves roster changes. Kahn gets credit for actually compiling a strong roster only to see it ravaged with injuries all season long, which is why we’re in this predicament in the first place. But you can’t argue that there are some great pieces left on this team.

There are still gaping holes, though. The back-up point guard position is sort of a mess. JJ Barea had a better showing last season than his first in Minnesota but it was still riddled with minor injuries and overall inconsistent performances. We have to start thinking that Luke Ridnour will slow down due to age but was one of our top shooters last season, so that’s not an easy evaluation to make.

Alexey Shved; is he really the shooting guard of our future? He can shoot and handle the ball exceptionally well. But he’s got a long ways to go and isn’t nearly as young as many might think.

Beyond Kevin Love, they have no true 3-point threat. Chase Budinger is starting to look like a must-sign in free agency because of his accuracy from deep and overall versatility. Derrick Williams, I mean, he showed glimpses of a great forward with inside-out skills and enough of a scoring punch to be the second best option on most teams in this league. But he doesn’t have a true position and he’s never going to see minutes ahead of Love.

Nikola Pekovic still needs to be resigned or let go via sign-and-trade this summer. The general consensus is that the Wolves will do all they can to keep him here but there are ridiculous prices on the restricted free agent’s head that may hedge off any match Flip and the Wolves are willing to dish out.

There are pieces abundant and pieces missing but I am confident that Flip Saunders can turn this current team into a playoff contender without drastically changing the makeup. But there are a few things I’d like to see done this offseason from utilizing trades, free agency and the draft.

PART II COMING SOON