The NBA draft is less than two weeks away, and the Timberwolves currently hold the 13th, 40th, 44th and 53rd picks. Now, that’s a whole lot of picks that no one team should ever actually use unless they’re stashing Euro players. And with Kevin Love’s fate hanging in the balance, those picks are bound to move around for other pieces. Regardless of what happens, the Wolves know they need to add a young piece to this current group to shore up the bench or potentially find a new star if they end up trading the one the have now away.
There are tons of options for the Wolves to go with all those assets, with the 13th pick being the most coveted — aside from Love. In such a deep draft with even some legitimate potential stars at the top, there are going to be some names that can come in and push this team forward right away. HTW wanted to review those players and rank them accordingly to fit the Wolves’ needs/desires. This is different than Chad Ford’s Big Board or any other rankings or mocks you’ll see around the web. These players were ranked according to 15 different categories — from Team Fit to Marketability and more — on a scale of 1-10. Then they were weighted, added up and divided to find the average. What we have left is a number ranking from 1-10 on which player fits the Wolves best and therefore should draft.
Below is that list with some comments on how the board turned out:
|Player:||Overall Rating:||Player:||Overall Rating:||Player:||Overall Rating:|
|Joel Embiid||9.87||Shabazz Napier||7.73||Deonte Burton||6.60|
|Andrew Wiggins||9.87||Bogdan Bogdanovic||7.73||C.J. Wilcox||6.60|
|Jabari Parker||9.53||Clint Capela||7.60||Russ Smith||6.60|
|Dante Exum||9.33||Mitch McGary||7.60||Isaiah Austin||6.53|
|Noah Vonleh||9.27||Cleanthony Early||7.60||Walter Tavares||6.33|
|Julius Randle||9.27||Thanasis Antetokounmpo||7.60||Patric Young||6.33|
|Aaron Gordon||9.20||Rodney Hood||7.40||Devyn Marble||6.33|
|Gary Harris||8.73||Zach Lavine||7.33||LaQuinton Ross||6.33|
|Doug McDermott||8.67||Jordan Adams||7.13||Damien Inglis||6.27|
|Tyler Ennis||8.60||Jerami Grant||7.00||Jabari Brown||6.27|
|Dario Saric||8.53||K.J. McDaniels||6.93||James McAdoo||6.20|
|Nik Stauskas||8.47||Kristaps Porzingis||6.87||Jordan Clarkson||6.13|
|Marcus Smart||8.33||Glenn Robinson III||6.87||Nick Johnson||6.07|
|James Young||8.27||Jarnell Stokes||6.80||Artem Klimenko||5.93|
|T.J. Warren||8.27||Jahii Carson||6.80||Josh Huestis||5.80|
|Adreian Payne||8.27||Sean Kilpatrick||6.80||Johnny O'Bryant||5.73|
|Kyle Anderson||8.20||DeAndre Daniels||6.67||Visillje Micic||5.47|
|Elfried Payton||8.07||Spencer Dinwiddle||6.67||Rasmus Larsen||5.47|
|Jusef Nurkic||8.07||Nikola Jokic||6.67||Casey Prather||5.40|
|P.J. Hairston||7.87||Dwight Powell||6.67||C.J. Fair||5.27|
- So, let’s play a game. Say the Wolves make a deal with Cleveland for the first overall pick and a combination of Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, and Anthony Bennett by sending Kevin Love over. Now they’re on the clock. What do they do? Based on the board, they can’t go wrong flipping a coin over Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. Embiid has a higher ceiling — the Hakeem Olajuwon comparisons are no joke — but has a ways to go before he reaches it. Wiggins fits the Wolves roster better right now. He might have a lower floor because he’ll be a Kawhi Leonard type of player early on but clearly needs guidance and will not be to go-to guy, especially on offense. If that’s the case, and you had to trade Love away to get to the top spot, I think you lean on Embiid because of the chance he has to become a superstar one day. The least you can do by trading your star away is getting the chance to blossom another, so that’s why I think Embiid would be the pick, despite the logjam they’d have at center. That would work itself out through trades later on.
- Jabari Parker is without a doubt the third guy on the Wolves list, although I wish he were higher. Personally, I’d take him over Wiggins, but given the Wolves’ current makeup, Wiggins slides into the lineup much easier. I still believe Parker could be the best player from this draft in the end.
- Once the top tier is gone — Embiid, Parker, Wiggins — things start to jumble up for the Wolves. We have Dante Exum with a narrow lead over Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon. I think like every other team, this is the core of that second tier of players. Exum has a slight lead just because I think he fits alongside Rubio better than what other people might think. And if Rubio can work out that three-point jumper a bit, he plays off the ball just fine, when Exum might have to take things off the dribble on his own. But I think the Wolves are high on all three of Vonleh, Randle and Gordon, especially if they’re moving to a future without Love. Vonleh and Gordon can both play in Minnesota alongside Love, whereas I see Randle as more of a desperate replacement if Love’s traded. If it were me, and I had a choice between the three forwards, I’d probably go with Randle because he’s the only one with a refined offensive game, which is very versatile.
- Gary Harris and Doug McDermott come in next because they can shoot it. Along with Nik Stauskas, who is 13th on the board, these guys can slide in perfectly off the bench. I like Gary Harris the most but almost sure he’ll be be gone before the 10th pick. Stauskas could be overdrafted come draft night, and I’m still not entirely sold on McDermott. He doesn’t have the size or athleticism to do what he did in college, which was special. A great player but not worthy of a top ten pick, if you ask me.
- An update here, Chad Ford reports that Dario Saric IS staying in the draft. Thank God. This dude rules. I mean, I’m really bullish on Saric. Problem for the Wolves is they need help now, and just because Saric is entering this year’s draft, does not mean he’s going to be in the NBA next season. He’s a wonderful talent who could excel in the NBA but other teams know that; he’s definitely no secret. Saric will get drafted before 13th, so the Wolves would have to move up in order to get him, which probably isn’t the right move.
- Marcus Smart is one many are debating. He would’ve been a top three pick last season but went back to school, and things didn’t necessarily go as planned. Now that he’s doing workouts and showing teams that last year’s woes were just a fluke, he’s starting to rise back up the boards. Would I take him over Exum if I needed a point guard? Hell no. But he’d probably be the next-best guy, right? Not so fast. For the Wolves, they need someone off the bench who can slide into being Rubio’s no. 2. Smart is a leader, a go-to guy, and as hard as it might be to pass him up, Ennis seems to fit the mold of what Minnesota’s looking for in a backup point guard. That’s why I think Ennis is they guy over Smart for Minnesota.
- Everything is really jumbled after the 14th guy on the board. If the Wolves some how move back in the draft, they’ll definitely have a hard time picking one guy to justify. Guys like T.J. Warren, James Young, Adreian Payne, Kyle Anderson, Elfried Payton, Cleanthony Early and Rodney Hood all are solid options. Guys who can legitimately play the 4 are better options — Payne, Anderson — because the Wolves have depth at the 3 with Brewer, Muhammad and Budinger. If there was one 3 I’d like to see them go with, even at the 13th pick, it’s Young. I think Young is an intriguing prospect given his size for the position and ability to shoot it from deep. He’s a consistent scorer, and although he struggled a tad in Kentucky, he could become another Eric Bledsoe kind of guy, where people overlooked him based on one year under Coach Cal.
There’s much more to go over, so let’s move the conversation to Twitter. Hit up @Howlintwolf with your opinions on the draft board and who you’re keeping a close eye on.