Let us rewind to earlier this Summer. The Wolves’ morale was punctured yet again after receiving the fourth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. It seemed inevitable that the Wolves would miss out on the John Wall sweepstakes, the sure pick in Evan Turner at #2, and the dark-horse of the entire lottery, Derrick Favors, who was slotted to go third.
The stars failed to align in our favor and we were going to be left with the bare remnants after the first three teams picked. Questions arose wondering if Kahn and the Wolves would trade up to get their man in Turner or just let it play out and hope for the best. And in true blue Timberwolf form, we stood idly aside as other team’s drafted glittered-eyed thinking they just improved their team’s chances at turning things around in the future.
But low and behold, those bare remnants have turned into a priceless and valuable player in Wes Johnson. A golden asset that has performed well for the team this year, and might be quite useful down the road.
Wes is an older, more mature rookie who possesses an all-around game but is still trying to find his niche in the NBA. Is he a one-dimensional offensive wing who can only shoot the deep ball? Can he learn to become a slasher in the NBA? Will his defense ever improve to the level where he is no longer considered a liability? Needless to say there are a lot of questions surrounding Wes and his role on this team.
But more so than Wes, Turner’s facing a more difficult and pressing situation out in Philadelphia, where even more questions are whirling about his name. When the 76ers drafted Turner, they didn’t quite know where he’d fit in. They already had a shooting guard with an all-around game that seemed to do most things the right way in Andre Iguodala. All they were doing is drafting the best person available.
And now they’re realizing the faults of their decision to draft the best player available. Poor Turner still has no role on their team at this point in the season, and hasn’t been given the proper amount of minutes to show what he’s got. Turner’s averaging only 23 minutes per game off of Doug Collins’ bench, and those minutes decreased even more this month when Turner saw the court more than 15 minutes only three times in December. It’s easy to say he may be falling out of Collins’ favor. As a result of Turner’s dismal minutes, he’s only averaging 6.3 ppg and a true shooting percentage of only 44.9 percent. What was so enticing about Turner’s game out of college was his open-court vision and passing ability. That hasn’t translated to the NBA level so well either, as he’s only dishing out 1.8 assists per game.
As for Wes, he’s already found a special spot in the Wolves’ starting lineup and slowly making a name for himself as a fan-favorite in Minneapolis thanks to his charming wit, silky strut and sparkling smile. More importantly than how he carries himself off the court, Wes has produced on the court and is doing it efficiently. He’s scoring more than Turner at 9.1 ppg and sports a better true shooting percentage at 53.8 percent. His three point shooting percentage, 36 percent, is considerably better than Turner’s 15 percent. And what about Turner’s highly touted passing ability? Wes is actually averaging more assists per game than Turner is. He’s actually become a much better passer since entering the NBA, which should tickle the fancy of Rambis and his coaching staff.
So although they’re both rookies still searching for their niche on their respective teams, Wes has outperformed Turner thus far this season, proving why he was the right guy. Some really thought Wes was the wrong pick, mostly judging by the reaction at the Timberwolves Draft Party, and that the Wolves should’ve done something else to help out the franchise and its future like trading up for Turner or Favors. But it turns out the Wes was, in fact, the better decision, for now that is. Notch one up for Kahn!