Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 10.00.32 AM My proposed design for a complete overhaul of Wolves' court design for upcoming season

A New Home Court Advantage

The Timberwolves have always been a little different. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always been drawn to their quirks, like the rare three-syllable nickname, the original, albeit unique blue-green color palette as well as the variations of the logo, from the green-eyed Timberwolf to the modified silver-backed, yellow-eyed current wolf logo. They’ve always killed the font of the nickname, standing out among the rest of the league with something that looks both terrifying yet ‘Up North-y’. The jerseys have had their ups-and-downs — from the basic inaugural jerseys to the tree-lined unis and now to the sleeved, Zebra blacks — but they’ve all stood out to me as, at the very least, different.

Yesterday, Zach Lowe published his Definitive NBA Court Design Rankings on Grantland. Although I don’t agree with every slot, his 26th position for the Minnesota Timberwolves is commendable on so many levels. In fact, you could go so far as to say that they didn’t even deserve to be there. He points out that the Target Center floor dons some of the most “extreme” two-tone wood work in the league. And there’s no real problem with two-tone itself, except the Wolves’ hard floor doesn’t even match itself. The carmel-based mid-section looks terrible on television and clashes with the birch-colored section inside the three-point lines.

Like Lowe, I do actually like the black-blue key section, although I can safely say I’ve never been much of a fan of the dissolving green and emphasis on the blue over the years. Just a side note, do you know how many teams in the NBA have a variation of the color blue in their logo? 17! 17 teams use a shade of blue in their color palette, and some teams use multiple shades of blue even. And I understand how popular the color may be but can’t we see a little bit of originality? That is why I praise the Charlotte Hornets on their new and old brand. The color the Wolves should be stepping away from is the blue, not the green, but I digress.

The more I read into Lowe’s piece, the more I thought about how the Wolves could improve their court for both television and live viewing. I thought, ‘What makes places like Los Angeles and New York so iconic besides all the glitz, glam and stars?’

The answer: darkness.

The idea of turning the court into the center stage is unique to these arenas because of how they darken the crowd and amp up the lighting on the court for emphasis, you know, to set the stage. Well, since the Wolves don’t have any reason mess with the lighting and copy either L.A. or N.Y., how could they bring that dark, mysteriousness into the Target Center? By making the actual court darker and more mysterious.

With that, I toyed around with some ideas and came up with this proposed court layout.

Wolves Court

There are a couple reasons I changed things up. One was to get that special appeal that L.A. and N.Y. have without actually replicating their style. The dark hardwood brings a mysterious aspect to the game and the team. Two, can you imagine how cool the Wolves home, white unis would pop off of a darker, greyed-out hardwood? That and the visitors unis would come in looking awkward and clumsy.

Finally, the real reason I believe this change fits the Wolves is because it falls into what I explained earlier. The Wolves have always been a little different. Why not embrace it to the max by changing something so basic like a basketball court into a phenomenon that people would want to come and pay money to see?

This is simply just my proposal, and I have another one in the works, but that one has to do with an entire rebranding, similar to what the Atlanta Hawks are going through right now. Put some spice into the old logo, embrace the original colors and twist it so that it has the feeling of 1989 but will appeal to the 2014 Wolves, who want to fly high and run all over you. Hopefully that will be coming very soon.

Wolves, Cavs agree to a Kevin Love deal

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Just about teammates, Love and LeBron have lofty goals in Cleveland

The one, the only Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this morning that the Wolves and Cavs have agreed upon a trade in principle that will ship Kevin Love to the Cavs for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a future 1st round pick. Perhaps the biggest piece of the deal is the assurance from Love’s camp that he’ll agree to a new contract, which will seal up his future in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.

Unless you live under a rock, this isn’t news to you. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention at all over the past three weeks, you would’ve known that this whole thing was inching closer and closer to completion. After all, it makes all sorts of sense for both of these teams to reach the alleged deal.

Cleveland just secured a once-in-a-lifetime second chance after LeBron James decided to ‘go home,’ but now the pressure is on to not blow like the first time around. Lucky enough for them, LeBron is now older, wiser and even better than he ever was in Cleveland. But, in basketball, we’ve learned that a team always triumphs over the individual, a lesson LeBron learned the hard way in Miami. That’s why the Cavaliers can’t afford to hand the ball to LeBron and say, “Have at it!” They need talent beyond him and Kyrie Irving, which is exactly why Love will help those three form, perhaps, one of the most deadly triple threats the league has ever seen. And one thing Cleveland still has, despite the trade, that Miami could never really figure out completely was depth up and down the roster. They’re still looking to shore things up at the moment, including looking at Shawn Marion, but for the most part, their youth and depth seem to give them an advantage. Miami never had a guy as good as Dion Waiters as their fourth player. They never had a true rim protector like Anderson Varejao — barring he stays healthy. They never even had a power, hustle forward like Cleveland does in Tristan Thompson.

The Cavaliers roster isn’t quite there yet to name them the unanimous title favorites but it’s a much improved scene over the cast of mistfits that Miami continually brought in on the veteran minimum with the promise of a championship. This core of young guys led by LeBron are hungry for a title, perhaps none more than Love himself. The thing that will really help Love mature is having a true leader to follow suit. In Minnesota, he was supposed to be that guy, but a poor attitude and a lack of vocal leadership hindered him in ever becoming a true leader. The skills and the game are there to be a team’s number one option but it was the swag and confidence in his teammates that never followed. Playing alongside the game’s best player and a worldwide icon will give Love a better opportunity to play to his characteristics and personality, while not forcing a leader to come out of him.

I can’t state enough how fortunate the Cavaliers have been through this entire offseason. Rarely does one team get a chance to run out the best player in the world in their jersey, but now another top-five player in the league will be right alongside him in the Wine & Gold.

But those opportunities don’t just fall into your lap. There was a price to pay, and that price was the potential of Andrew Wiggins. Notice that I said “potential” there because that will become ever-so important once you see this kid play his first game for Minnesota.

I’ve been a big Wiggins fan for a few years. Got to watch him play on the best AAU circuit in the country, the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. He led his CIA Bounce team, alongside friend and teammate Tyler Ennis, to the championship game, where they fell to the Aaron Gordon-led Oakland Soldiers. But then even through college, where he played at one of my favorite programs Kansas. He wasn’t a star by any means but he oozed with potential and still was able to throw in some of the most impressive plays that most college kids couldn’t ever pull off.

The problem with Wiggins is his consistency and passive-aggressive nature on the court. Overall, his year at Kansas was solid. It wasn’t enough to garner talk of the first overall pick like Michael Beasley’s freshman year did but it was good enough to pair with his NBA potential at such a young age to justify the pick. The problem was that, scattered throughout the season, were some really poor performances, especially scoring-wise.

How about three points on 1-5 shooting in a big conference game with Oklahoma State? Or how about seven points on 2-12 shooting against Texas? Better yet, the show-stopper, a measly four points in Kansas’ tournament-ending performance against Stanford in the second round? The evidence shows that Wiggins’ poor games happen more than just poor shooting nights. He tends to disappear in games — at least on offense — which is by no means a trait of any superstar in this league.

But what Wiggins does best doesn’t show up in the stat sheets. He’s an above-average defender as it stands right now, and he’ll only get better as he learns assignments better. He’s also been very durable over the course of his career (Knock on wood). He makes a lot of things happen on the court simply due to his elite athleticism that many players couldn’t even fathom. It doesn’t all add up and make a pretty stat line but he’s been doing what it takes to win games at every level he’s been at. That’s something Love can’t quite say yet in his career.

Alongside Wiggins in the deal is Anthony Bennett. I’m not huge on Bennett. I believe he’s simply a newer version of Derrick Williams with even a shakier jump shot and less athleticism. That doesn’t bode well moving forward, but what I do like about Bennett is the will and the want to get better. He had one of the worst statistical seasons ever last year, of any player, so Bennett knows what’s at stake. In order to improve, you have to work very hard at it. Bennett came into Summer League having lost a good amount of weight, had his tonsils removed, so he’s breathing on the court better. There was no slacking off in getting prepared for this season because he knows it’s a big one.

The toughest part of this trade is imagining the drop-off from last year’s starting 4 to this year’s potentially starting 4. Love was the best statistical power forward in the league, while Bennett was the complete opposite. And as it stands right now, Bennett is the best option at that slot. That’s scary. So unless they can flip Bennett or find another way to deal for Thaddeus Young, as rumor has it the Wolves’ interest in acquiring him from the 76ers is very high. I like the idea of bringing in Young to have Bennett sculpt his game in the mold of his, while coming off the bench. Otherwise, as things stand currently, the Wolves are set to take a huge step back in terms of production of their starting five, and that’s very scary for a team that missed the playoffs for the tenth straight season this Spring.

All in all the trade was a huge success just in terms of getting something substantial in return for a mega-star, who made it known that he had zero intentions of staying in Minnesota past this coming season. He was going to walk, leaving the Wolves with nothing but his statistical records in the books. So for that very reason, to pull off a deal for a player with high aspirations in this league and another that looks to be climbing a mountain, is a great deal for Flip Saunders and the Wolves. It doesn’t necessarily dawn yet another full rebuild but fans must be willing to accept the step backwards and be ready for brighter days ahead with a roster constructed in the right manner.

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Andrew Wiggins Just Wants to be Wanted

Before we begin, I need you to do me a big favor. Just watch that video below and do your absolute best to watch it to the end. I promise this isn’t some trick that’s going to show you some close-up of Paul George’s mangled shin bone, but I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t pretty brutal as well, just in a completely different sense.

Okay, now that that’s over, let’s begin to bash the brutally pathetic reporting/journalistic skills of that interview. I’m not going to bash Bram Weinstein for the interview questioning because he probably didn’t come up with the questions. But, on the other hand, since he was the “journalist” pestering Wiggins into answering those bizarrely unfair questions, he’s getting grouped in on this rant.

See it like this: there’s a more-than-likely potential trade that’s about to go down. Somehow, some way Kevin Love is going to be wearing a Cavaliers jersey by the beginning of next season. That much we know, especially after Glen Taylor admitted as much in a recent interview. But the whole proprietor of a coming deal — Kevin Love’s camp — has been pretty mum on the whole thing. Rather, they’ve taken on the Minnesota nature and played the situation so painfully passive-aggressively that it’s forced the media to take on the narrative themselves.

That in itself can be a huge problem, especially in today’s world of lightning-fast news via Twitter without needing so much as a “BREAKING” or “SOURCES” taking up very few of your precious 140 character “report.” Because of the national firestorm that can catch ablaze in just seconds nowadays, the Love trade has risen to a whole new level, like that new storm movie. And Andrew Wiggins’ interview was the tipping point of it getting out of control.

This is how I see it: Wiggins is a 19-year old. He probably plays a lot of video games, eats candy and junk food and stays up probably way too late. He’s a teenager through and through despite the fact that he can leap into the sky 45-inches on average. But he’s still just a kid, and because of one media outlets attempt to prove their reports right — that Love-for-Wiggins is near inevitable — that latest interview is the byproduct of sticking an innocent player in the middle of a battlefield. In my honest opinion as, 1) a fan of basketball, the NBA and the Timberwolves, and; 2) a former student of the art of journalism with a degree in PROFESSIONAL Journalism and Sports Management, I believe ESPN hung out one of its subjects to dry, and if he wasn’t so inclined to being the top overall draft pick in a worldwide-recognized sport, his agent, his camp and he himself would never do such an interview again for ESPN.

In the middle of watching horrible interview, I couldn’t help but think, “Where’s Kevin Love?” After all, he’s the proprietor, remember? He’s the one wanting out of his current situation, and in order to grant him that, there will be some innocent bystanders affected such as Wiggins and perhaps Anthony Bennett. So why not go after him with these kinds of questions? Pressure him into answering, “Since you’re not sure what jersey you’re wearing next year, how do you feel?” Or “What do you have to say to Minneapolis or Cleveland about playing for them in their respective cities?”

Maybe ESPN was smart in grabbing the innocent, know-nothing player involved here. Maybe they thought they could get him to say something everyone doesn’t already suspect because he is just a rookie. After all, he doesn’t know any better, and he himself said he’s just a rookie, he has no say. But if you take that approach, you’re just furthering the notion that ESPN reprehended its duty as a journalistic outlet by trying to play “gotcha” journalism with someone who didn’t know any better. On top of that, they unveiled a genuine lack of being able to choose frontline sources to confirm reports of their own. Wiggins himself, as a rookie in the NBA, isn’t going to be told a damn thing about any trade he may or may not be involved in. For one, that’d be a massive misstep in following the rules by the Cavaliers, and two, why should Wiggins be involved in that process? He himself, once again, said he’s just a rookie, he has no say. So shame on ESPN for believe that he could give insight into a closed-lips process since the very beginning.

Wiggins himself, the Cavaliers and the Timberwolves all have a right to be upset with ESPN’s interview yesterday. It was a poor, pathetic attempt to wiggle their way further into the reports they themselves created, while leaving the rookie to fend for himself. If you didn’t think he felt “wanted” before, now they probably made things even worse. The interview could’ve been very simple. A couple “How’s your life changed so far?”, “Have you met any new people along the way?”. That would’ve been easy, made for a watchable interview and then still carried out their initial prerogative by dropping just one potential trade question in there, and not conduct the interview with a barrage of FULLY-LOADED questions that were going to get the kid in trouble.

If there ever were a time Wiggins would want to feel “wanted” it was definitely after something like that. And it probably doesn’t even matter which franchise warmed him up with blankets and hot cocoa. But I can assure you this, judging by the backlash on the Internet by Wolves fans everywhere, Minnesota is going to be a place that genuinuely wants to have Wiggins a part of this team’s future. As a team that’s struggled greatly to just get back to the postseason in over 10 years, adding high-quality young talent is a must, whenever they see fit. In other words, the Wolves couldn’t ever have enough star-potential guys under the age of 22. Wiggins would be the cream of the crop, if the trade were to go down, and fans here would go ballistic to see him as part of this franchise.

So if Wiggins’ true feelings are to simply play for a team that wants him, loves him for who he is, and will be patient enough to live through his mistakes in order to get better, Minnesota is the place for him.

Timberwolves Announce 2014 Summer League Roster

The Wolves finally announced their Summer League roster for Vegas, which begins July 11th. As a warmup, the team will be hosting a scrimmage at the Target Center with Zach LaVine, Glenn Robinson III among others participating. Should be a grand ole’ time. Anyways, here is the official roster:

  • LaRon Dendy | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Mamadi Diane | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Gorgui Dieng | Center | NBA Exp.: 1
  • Kyrlyo Fesenko | Center | NBA Exp.: 5
  • Brady Heslip | Guard | NBA Exp.: R
  • Dennis Horner | Forward | NBA Exp.: 1
  • D.J. Kennedy | Guard | NBA Exp.: 1
  • Zach LaVine | Guard | NBA Exp.: R
  • Jordan Morgan | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Shabazz Muhammad | Forward | NBA Exp.: 1
  • Glenn Robinson III | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Alexey Shved | Guard | NBA Exp.: 2
  • Markel Starks | Guard | NBA Exp.: R

A few quick notes on the team:

  • Obviously everyone is excited to see LaVine, especially because athleticism can rule in summer league games because they’re so similar to college level basketball. But the three players that must look good no matter what are Dieng, Muhammad and Shved. Dieng and Muhammad are Flip Saunders’ guys, so they have to break that mold of recent years that the Wolves can’t develop young talent. As for Shved, he may be playing for his NBA life and a new contract. He might not even be a Timberwolf to start the season. Nonetheless, he still needs to show that he has some potential and hopefully that he built up his frame a bit this offseason.
  • Morgan and Starks are nice additions to the squad. Neither are expected to make a team this season but they’ll definitely play a part during pool play and beyond.
  • Fesenko is an interesting name. He’s bounced around the league because there’s not much true talent there. But you can’t teach a guy to be 7-foot-1, 270 pounds. He’s an immovable object on the glass, if only he could shore up his defense a tad and learn some type of post move. He could end up being a decent option off the bench as a final big man.
  • I’ll bring it back to LaVine and Robinson III now. What we want to see out of both of them is an emphasis on team ball. Let Muhammad, Dieng and Shved shine while not completely surrendering your worth. I’m not nearly as worried about Robinson III in this regard as I am with LaVine because he played that role in college. LaVine, on the other hand, could easily let things get out of control, which could ruin his summer league experience and chip away at any confidence.
Zach LaVine, the Wolves 13th overall pick in 2014 NBA Draft

Timberwolves 2014 Draft in review

Zach LaVine, the Wolves 13th overall pick in 2014 NBA Draft

Zach LaVine, the Wolves 13th overall pick in 2014 NBA Draft

The NBA draft is over. You can exhale and safely bring back out the top-shelf liquor and crystal-ware to pour yourself a drink. After all, you deserve it! You stayed up late and watched the whole thing, didn’t you?

Well, in case you didn’t, here’s a very brief recap with a more in-depth analysis below:

  • Wolves take UCLA G Zach LaVine with the 13th overall pick
  • Wolves take Michigan G/F Glenn Robinson III with the 40th overall pick
  • Wolves sell the rights to the 44th overall pick (Markel Brown) to the Nets for $1 million
  • Wolves sell the right to the 53rd overall pick (Alessandro Gentile) to Houston for unknown amount

So, the Wolves had four picks heading into the draft and took just two players but probably made enough money in their two sales of second rounders to nearly pay LaVine’s first year salary. Nice! But let’s get into what really matters: The selections of LaVine and Robinson III.

Let’s kick things off with the first choice. Zach LaVine didn’t make the greatest impression on the Wolves community by saying a curse word — it started with an “F” — after hearing his name and “Minnesota Timberwolves” in the same sentence.

But can you hardly blame him?

LaVine is an intriguing prospect from — you guessed it — Minnesota’s favorite pipeline, UCLA. Although he didn’t play much during the season, in fact he only started one game, he still put up decent numbers as a sixth man. But what everyone truly loved about LaVine was his “potential” and all the measurables that go into scouting a player. But what really determines potential? To many, that means how well his game translates to the NBA. To me, it means his numbers, role and attitude/drive translates favorably to an NBA team.

Flip Saunders said, when he first started and reiterated when he was looking for a head coach, that he wanted analytics to become a part of the Timberwolves future when it comes to building the team. But, in an effort to completely throw that logic to the wind, Saunders did the opposite by taking LaVine, who is a complete testament to the old-school “eye test” when it comes to gauging a prospects, well, prospects of becoming a solid NBA professional. And by the eye test I mean you look at a guy and his measurables — height, vertical, wing span, hand size, shuttle time, etc. — in order to determine his fit and potential in the NBA.

But guess who will be the first to tell you that the “eye test” only goes so far: David Kahn.

Kahn was particularly keen on the eye test when scouting any draft. After all, it’s an old school measure of gauging a player’s transition and potential to the NBA. But in today’s stat-driven world, it’s an outdated method by immense measures. LaVine’s transitional statistics to the NBA are not good. In fact, LaVine’s per 40 minutes aren’t very good with just 15.4 points per game on 44 percent shooting. He’s not even close to good in terms of getting to the free throw line with just an average of three free throw attempts per game, despite a guy who’s athletic and likes to get to the rim. His true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentages are tempting but he turns the ball over too much and his usage rate was suspiciously high for a sixth man at UCLA.

Saunders falling for the eye test on LaVine is a critical mistake in the Timberwolves’ future plans. I don’t want to be the one to break him the news because I, in fact, have fallen for the eye test plenty of times, and often right alongside Mr. Kahn himself. Come draft time, I believed the Johnny Flynn projected to be an average NBA starter at the very least, and at the 6th pick, that’s not a bad deal some times. Then, with Wesley Johnson, I believed he was going to be another player with average starting capabilities. After all, he was long, had great size and defensive capabilities and could shoot the ball very well right out of school.

And then there was Derrick Williams. He was a little tougher to gauge, but in a draft that was so poor after Kyrie Irving, they really didn’t have much better of a choice. All three — Flynn, Johnson and Williams — turned out to be busts in Minnesota and put the franchise back about five years in terms of rebuilding.

Now, I’m not saying the LaVine’s fate will be very similar, but history lays out the path; the Timberwolves simply don’t draft well regardless of position in the draft. It’s a difficult reality to face, especially because they could be so much better than they currently are or ever have been, but the Wolves have been at the mercy of the draft’s crapshoot every season. It’s never been kind but part of that rests on the minds of the decision makers like Kahn and Saunders. In the end, there are new, innovative ways to approach creating a roster that fits the mold of your style of play and neither has been able to achieve that. Instead, both were stuck in the ancient ways of the eye test and have furthered the potential of failure for the coming years. I absolutely refuse to call Zach LaVine a failure before he appears before us in a Timberwolves jersey for at least a season, but forward-thinking with an emphasis on analytics has me skeptical nonetheless until he proves me otherwise.

As for Robinson III, he has a chance to become one of the best value picks of the entire draft, which Flip may or may not deserve credit for.

For starers, Robinson III is one of the more accomplished players in the second round, both in terms of statistics and team success in college. His per 40 minute stats are considerably better than LaVine’s in both of his seasons at Michigan. In most other drafts, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a late teens-to-twenties draft pick but this year was a tad different. Regardless, Robinson III played a big part in Michigan’s success the past two collegiate season, posting win shares of .178 and .142 in his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively. The regression in his sophomore season is a tad alarming, mostly because he was supposed to be the guy once Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. were out of town but that wasn’t the brand of basketball the Wolverines played, and if anyone reaped the benefits it was their key player Nik Stauskas.

Robinson III sorta just fell into Flip’s lap. If another name was called at 40, Flip may have had some explaining to do. Robinson III has a great chance to make the team, especially if Robbie Hummel is no longer an option — which he shouldn’t be. It’s not like Robinson III is a must-have on the roster, but he certainly adds a level of competition when it comes to making the squad, which is why he’s a great asset to have aboard.

If I had to give the Wolves a grade on last night’s draft, I’d have to say it’s INCOMPLETE. It’s a copout; I know that. But when you take a player like LaVine, who is such an enormous question mark, at a time where you really need players who can make an impact immediately, you’re taking on a huge risk. And as much as I like the Robinson III pick in the second round, it doesn’t make up for the fact that there were impact guys to be picked at 13 but you passed on them to take a potentially big project in the middle of a transitional period for the franchise.

If this were indeed a sign of things to come for the Wolves’ remaining offseason, I’d advise to brace for the worst. There are two things very wrong with what went down tonight that support that last statement. The first is that Kevin Love remains a Timberwolf. It’s not a bad thing but it means that you’re still skeptical of the offers on the table and that you don’t have a clear understanding of the direction you want the team to head in. Do we keep Love? Do we trade him? That sort of thing exactly. The second is that Flip has already publicly stated that he wants the Wolves to remain competitive and not go into any sort of rebuilding mode yet he took the most unpolished player in the entire lottery — perhaps the entire draft — at no. 13. What does that say about the direction of the team and where management would like to see things go from here? Doesn’t exactly scream “stay competitive” to me…

I have a strong gut-feeling that Flip doesn’t have any sort of plan for the present and the future states of the Timberwolves roster. Instead, he’s being very retroactive by sitting and waiting for things to change around him — like an unexpected trade offer for Love or the addition of Klay Thompson in a Warriors offer — but that doesn’t make the Wolves any better, or push the roster or future any further along in the present. Instead, that regresses the progress that was already taking shape because teams like the Mavericks, Pelicans and Nuggets are all making deals to get better as soon as they can.

That’s why I think the scariest part about last night’s draft wasn’t any of the picks they made or the sales they authorized; rather it was the general feeling of “what do we do now?” that seems to be resonating throughout the entire organization’s management, while the fan base is starting to slowly feel the rippling effect. Maybe it’s because Flip has never been in a situation like this before as the President and the Head Coach, but neither has a lot of employees. So buck up, dust off the best 5-point business plan you can find and present it immediately because the rest of us seem just as confused and lost as you probably are, Mr. Saunders.

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Kevin Love Rumor Mill churning again

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Kevin Love is a wanted commodity. You would be too if you can post a double-double as easy as tying your shoe. But now that he’s already let it be known that he’s not keen on staying in Minnesota past this upcoming season — with the ability to bounce thanks to David Kahn’s Kahntract that gave him in out after his third season — the rumor mill is moving fast with the draft approaching. And this time, the rumors could actually be truer than they were four weeks ago.

When the Love news broke out, the rumors went flying. That’s because a lot of people don’t have much else to do than to fuel the fire. But now it seems to be time where the Wolves actually have to consider the trades currently on — and even off — the table. Before we move further, check out current NBA future lines for the Minnesota Timberwolves and monitor how their odds move over the early summer as rumors come to fruition.

Many believe after yesterday that the Boston Celtics are the frontrunner. Why? Well, Chad Ford said so, DUH. But what also is interesting is all the hubba that Love stirred up when he vacationed the Boston. He caroused around the city like royalty and even met up with his agent and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo to take in a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway. Then David Ortiz got into the mix — Damn you! He tweeted at Love offering advice of how to move from Minneapolis to Bo-Town, like a boss.

But if you move all the drama and passive-aggressive behavior aside, the Celtics have a pretty nice little package to send the Wolves for Love. The problem is no one truly knows what it is — if there’s an official offer on the table or not. The Celtics have multiple young, talented players like Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. Then they also have the 6th and 17th picks in this year’s draft. Then, if you want, you can maybe even throw in Jeff Green as a possibility. Flip Saunders has stated that he doesn’t want to rebuild, if a Love trade indeed happens. You can’t blame the guy but not dealing Love because you’re only getting picks back as the headline is the wrong mentality. But I digress. If you look at all the pieces the Celtics could potentially offer, it seems like they’re a great fit to; 1) gain some young pieces as you address the future of your roster, and; 2) gain some players who’ve played in the league at least a couple of years. It’s the best of both worlds, methinks.

It’s not fair to jump all over the Celtics as the only logical landing point quite yet. Just because Ford has merit to say so doesn’t mean it’s even close to true. But get this: Darren Wolfson tweeted that he thinks the front office is sitting ominously quiet like it’s the calm before the storm. I think the night before the draft will be “take cover” time and then the night of could be a full hurricane of phone rings, espresso shots and stress. Just because the teams are what they are now doesn’t mean they will be the same way on draft night. Which is exactly why another team will plot and move to change their roster just to get the chance to make a move for Love. Maybe Golden State finds a third team interested in taking on David Lee and also sends a first round pick to Minnesota for the trouble. Maybe Sacramento bites the bullet and does perhaps offer the boat just to have a chance at having Love for one season. Maybe Chicago decides to challenge Miami’s decrepit Big Three with a newly formed Big Four (Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Joakim Noah) and clear enough space and assets to do so.

All I’m saying is anything can happen. The rumors will start to fly — with the one from yesterday being the first in a long while. I just know that it could be a bumpy ride, and the chances for disappointment are always greater than for success. But, perhaps, for the first time in just about ever, maybe the Wolves will be on the other side of the fence looking over, smirking in happiness. “Ha ha ha, have fun with that lethargic oaf of a star!”

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HTW’s 2014 Wolves Draft Board

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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 Embiid9.87Shabazz Napier7.73Deonte Burton6.60
Andrew Wiggins9.87Bogdan Bogdanovic7.73C.J. Wilcox6.60
Jabari Parker9.53Clint Capela7.60Russ Smith6.60
Dante Exum9.33Mitch McGary7.60Isaiah Austin6.53
Noah Vonleh9.27Cleanthony Early7.60Walter Tavares6.33
Julius Randle9.27Thanasis Antetokounmpo7.60Patric Young6.33
Aaron Gordon9.20Rodney Hood7.40Devyn Marble6.33
Gary Harris8.73Zach Lavine7.33LaQuinton Ross6.33
Doug McDermott8.67Jordan Adams7.13Damien Inglis6.27
Tyler Ennis8.60Jerami Grant7.00Jabari Brown6.27
Dario Saric8.53K.J. McDaniels6.93James McAdoo6.20
Nik Stauskas8.47Kristaps Porzingis6.87Jordan Clarkson6.13
Marcus Smart8.33Glenn Robinson III6.87Nick Johnson6.07
James Young8.27Jarnell Stokes6.80Artem Klimenko5.93
T.J. Warren8.27Jahii Carson6.80Josh Huestis5.80
Adreian Payne8.27Sean Kilpatrick6.80Johnny O'Bryant5.73
Kyle Anderson8.20DeAndre Daniels6.67Visillje Micic5.47
Elfried Payton8.07Spencer Dinwiddle6.67Rasmus Larsen5.47
Jusef Nurkic8.07Nikola Jokic6.67Casey Prather5.40
P.J. Hairston7.87Dwight Powell6.67C.J. Fair5.27

 

  • 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.