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Certain, Uncertainty; Wolves lose to Warriors, 130-120

Heading into Monday’s meeting with the Golden State Warriors the Minnesota Timberwolves faced another opportunity to get over the .500 mark, a proverbial hump that they’ve failed to overcome throughout the entire season. Prior to the game, the Warriors announced that their starting center, Andrew Bogut, would miss the remainder of the season and some of the postseason. Andre Iguodala did not dress in uniform, either.

The Wolves jumped out to a double-digit lead during the first quarter, and by the time the frame ended they led the Warriors by 14. However, for every Kevin Love three-pointer (he connected on four of them in as many attempts) there was an equalizer provided by Stephen Curry. Curry connected on four of six attempts from behind the line and scored 16 of the Warriors 28 points during the opening quarter. Love, meanwhile, entered the second having scored 22 of the Wolves 42 and it should be mentioned that neither team emphasised the importance of defence during that time.

J.J. Barea, Corey Brewer, Dante Cunningham, Robbie Hummel and Luc Mbah a Moute — labeled an inept bench, in terms of scoring, by some —  combined to score nine points in four minutes on the floor together, during the second quarter. These five shot four-of-nine from the field, collectively, in addition to grabbing four rebounds and adding on three assists. However, a poor effort from the starters during a brief, three-minute stretch and less-than-stellar bench numbers helped the Warriors cut-down the deficit before halftime. Curry led the way for Golden State, and scored 23 points by halftime. Golden State cracked the thin-layer of glass around Maurice Speights, and his seat on the bench, and played the crusty veteran for nearly 10 minutes during first half due to their lack-of-depth at the center position. David Lee added eight and Draymond Green scored six points to aid Curry in cutting the score to 62-64, with the Wolves ahead at after two quarters.

Undoubtedly; the future of Rick Adelman and Kevin Love as members of the Wolves in already on fans minds. Sentiment arose Sunday in Sacramento, as Adelman potentially stood on the floor of Sleep Train Arena for the final time. The 67, soon to be 68, year old stoic — but too old to finish out the remainder of his contract — head coach has seemingly released the Wolves offense to hunt without direction, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The narrative is distinct as it pertains to Love. Regardless of his future, Love’s etched a place for himself in Timberwolves history throughout his brief time in Minnesota. Monday, despite the Wolves loss to the Warriors, Love embedded himself deeper within the Wolves’ still-adolescent history by breaking Kevin Garnett’s mark for most points (1951) scored in a single-season.

Yet, while the records of a beloved legends are broken, Love remains a potential villain pending his uncertain future. Fans are reluctant to label Love the ‘Best Timberwolf Ever,’ and that’s understandable, but that debate stands as irrelevant when looking at the bigger picture. Considering the majority of this roster was constructed under the David Kahn Era, and the salvaged functional components acquired during the offseason are thanks to a new ‘Shot Caller’ in Flip Saunders — Love and the Wolves around him have done a respectful job of almost digging themselves out from as deep down as Earth’s core, after being stranded there by men destined for a trip into the deepest realm of NBA front-office hell. Note: That’s from the perspective of Wolves fans, I think.

Following the same statistical patterns in defeats coming before Monday; the Wolves early, upbeat pace attained during the opening quarter was not sustained throughout the first half. Resulting in an offensively stagnant second-quarter.

First Quarter:

  • Pace (Possessions per 48 minutes): 121.60.
  • Points: 42.
  • Offensive Rating: 141.3

Second Quarter:

  • Pace: 101.28.
  • Points: 22.
  • Offensive Rating: 85.4

Decline:

  • Pace: -20.32
  • Points: -20.
  • Offensive Rating: -55.9 (!!!)

Since March 7th, the following is the Wolves first and second quarter averages in the same categories.

First Quarter:

  • Pace: 102.77
  • Points: 30.
  • Offensive Rating:116.9

Second Quarter:

  • Pace: 97.61
  • Points: 25.5
  • Offensive Rating: 103.06

Decline:

  • Pace: -5.16
  • Points: -4.5
  • Offensive Rating: -13.3

Well, the Wolves nearly quadrupled their usually decline in production within each category — resulting in the loss of a 14 point lead — and at halftime the score was 64-62, in favor of the Wolves. The sudden decline rises and falls with the Wolves starters. If Rubio, Love and the gang are scurrying around for 12 minutes during the third quarter, the offensive numbers are as productive as any team in the league, but when it comes time for those guys to rest the offensive efficiency, and overall-productivity, plummets uncontrollably [most often during the early minutes of the final quarter].

The Warriors, a team already over the proverbial, postseason hope, ultimately surpassed the Wolves and defeated Minnesota, 130-120.

Although the disappointment tied with failing to meet, set-goals and aspirations aside a notable amount of uncertainty  — involving the team’s best player —  surrounds the Wolves and the upcoming postseason. Moreover, one game remains on the schedule against the lowly Utah Jazz, the season should be ending on a good-note. If the Wolves defeat the Jazz, and I expect them to do, they’ll have won 41 games.

Wolves Wins by Season

  • 2009-2010 – 15
  • 2010-2011 – 17
  • 2011-2012* – 26
  • 2012-2013 – 31

The Timberwolves will likely win 10 more games than they did last season, they’ve already won more games than they did from 2009-2011 (a span of two seasons!). So, while uncertainty looms over the upcoming, imminent postseason, this collection of Wolves performed well-enough this season to aid a teammate into becoming the organization’s single-season scoring leader, in addition to helping fans forget an era whose presence still lingers within the clubhouse.

State of the Wolves Part II

Ok Wolves fans so we have plenty of updated information in the past few weeks that we’ve gotten straight from David Kahn on what his plan is for the Wolves. On top of that some more research has led me to change some of my views as well and we have a lot more information on the players available in the draft.

So with that here’s my State of the Wolves Part II (I’ll be pulling from the first State of the Wolves as well as my look into how the Wolves look in terms of scorers and will indent that stuff to distinguish old from new):

I like the format Draft Express used in their Off-Season Analysis a few years back so let’s go with that…

Draft Picks:

Picks #6, #18, #28, #45 and #47

Depth Chart:

PG: Randy Foye/Sebastian Telfair/Kevin Ollie/Bobby Brown
SG: Mike Miller
SF: Ryan Gomes/Rodney Carney/Corey Brewer
PF: Al Jefferson/Kevin Love/Craig Smith/Shelden Williams/Brian Cardinal
C: Jason Collins

I put the players in their most natural position here and only used everyone once. Miller could be argued at SF and Foye could be argued at SG but we’ll have more on that later.Notice how goofy it looks?!?!

This is how the playing time went (Based on the Team’s Minutes per 82games.com) minus Rashad McCants+Calvin Booth who were traded:

PG: Sebastian Telfair (50%) – Randy Foye (24%) – Kevin Ollie (18%) – Bobby Brown (3%)

SG: Randy Foye (37%) - Mike Miller (22%) – Rodney Carney (19%) – Bobby Brown (3%)Kevin Ollie (2%)
SF: Mike Miller (36%) - Ryan Gomes (34%) - Rodney Carney (10%) – Brian Cardinal (8%) – Corey Brewer (6%)
PF:
Ryan Gomes (29%) – Craig Smith (29%) - Kevin Love (21%) – Brian Cardinal (14%) – Al Jefferson (2%) – Shelden Williams (1%)
C:
Al Jefferson (43%) – Kevin Love (30%) - Jason Collins (10%) – Craig Smith (7%) – Shelden Williams (4%) – Mark Madsen (2%) – Ryan Gomes (1%)

Initial Thoughts: The blessing of the current roster is obviously the Wolves versatility at SG, SF, and PF. The curse of it is that we are stacked with a large group of quality “backup” type players (Save for Big Al and K-Love) at these 3 positions that are more like interchangeable parts with no defined role for each on the team. We have too much flexibility. Every player besided Telfair plays multiple positions with some consitency. Gomes is kind of a poor-man’s Odom (maybe a slightly better 3pt shooter) that is a nice player off the bench that gives the team flexibility to play small or big, Rodney Carney another nice 2/3 off the bench that played well with minutes down the stretch, and Mike Miller who had an up and down year with injuries but has the talent to be a starter with a high scoring efficiency from the wing. Foye splits time between the 1/2, Jefferson and Love between 4/5 etc. Jefferson is certainly capable of playing the 5 and with the news he’s looking to slim down this summer I think that will help his cause to be quicker on defense.

Background/Recap:

After an eventless year of rebuilding without KG in ’07-’08, the Wolves started this past season right where they left off with an 0-5 start that led to a 4-15 record which resulted in Head Coach Randy Wittman getting fired. Kevin McHale vacated the front office in a move to the bench that after a slow start learning his new philosphy resulted in a solid month of January at 10-4 that even gave McHale coach of the month honors. The run came to a crashing hault however with Al Jefferson tearing his right ACL on February 8th against New Orleans. The rest of the season was mostly a wash with Big Al out, but the Wolves used the time to groom rookie Kevin Love who by the end of the season established himself as a starting quality PF with the 4th best rebounding rate ever for a rookie. (See here for the evidence and here for the breakdown.) The only other news of note in the second half of the year post-Jeferson was the trade that sent Rashad McCants out of town to the Kings with Calvin Booth in exchange for Bobby Brown and Shelden Williams. (yawn…)

Ultimately the Wolves finished 24-58 which was bad enough to secure the 6th pick in the draft after being un-lucky yet again in the lottery.

Team Needs:

“The Timberwolves are a team without an identity.” (Funny this is a sentence that I didn’t need to change from Draft Express’ 2006 breakdown, ouch. Shows you the quality of GM Kevin McHale was and the general lack of vision within the organization). Even better look at what they had for team needs in ’06 as well.

1) A defensive minded center
2) A point guard
3) Athletic scorers

Amazing isn’t it! In fact I would contend that the Wolves have been in need of a defensive minded center, a pg (other than Cassell’s stint) and athletic scorers since forever. The biggest weakness we’ve had over the past decade in my opinion is that we have no one that can take the ball to the hoop and get to the FT line. Here’s a mental exercise for you, picture the Wolves on offense in the half-court (not a fastbreak) and try and visualize one of the Wolves players driving past his guy to the hoop for an And-1. Anyone come to mind? Maybe McCants or Foye once or twice in the last two years but no Timberwolf has had “Can beat guys off the dribble” and “Gets to the hoop and the FT line” listed in their strengths since maybe Marbury was running the point over 10 years ago!

GM’s Strategy:

No one really knows what David Kahn’s draft strategy is or his vision of how to build a franchise. (Other than what you think you might be able to pull out of his open letter to the fans and his first couple of interviews here and here.) However he did have a significant role in building a team in Indiana that featured Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest and Jermaine O’Neal which was a pre-season favorite to win it all before the brawl happened. (And was also with the team when they grabbed Danny Granger after the Wolves passed on him for McCants). So we will see what Kahn’s strategy is, the good news is that moving from Kevin McHale to ANY strategy is an improvement.

This is where we have the biggest change since my original breakdown has come. Kahn has been all but a completely open book with just about everyone (media, season ticket holders, etc.) over the past few weeks. (Everyone except the players he’s going to be shipping out, i.e. all of them not named Jeffeson or Love.)

Based on what we know now I think Kahn’s strategy or plan breaks down like this:

  1. Draft or trade for a true pg to lead this team.
  2. Add shooters (and scorers) around said pg and Jefferson
  3. Trade for players in the 24-26 year old range to grow the team together
  4. Find a positive coach that will take time to develop the group of younger players
  5. Work the phones and be the most aggressive GM in the league to use the leverage he has in expiring contracts and multiple 1st round picks to complete the plan by being opportunistic during the draft, free agent season, and next year at the trade deadline.

I honestly can’t wait to see Kahn’s first day or real action this Thursday to see the plan start rolling after lots of work over the past few weeks working the phones.

Personal Analysis:

First lets look at the 3 team needs:

1) A defensive minded center: Again I reiterate that taking a run at Chris, The Birdman, Andersen would be a good move this offseason. Likewise, Anderson Varejao also could fill this role and is a FA this summer. Both players would bring the energy, rebounding, and tough/active defense to the team that has been missing while we had a constantly rotating door of backup centers fill the roster. (A third option would be “The Polish Hammer” Marcin Gortat of the Orlando Magic who when given minutes has been just as good as Andersen/Varejao) Snagging one of those two would give the Wolves a very solid 3-pronged Front-line with Love and Jefferson where any two of the three could play well. Slot Jefferson in for 36-40 minutes, Love for 30-35 and 20-30 for Birdman/Sideshow Bob and you have arguably one of the top front-lines in the league all of the sudden.

This still is the plan, I think however based on Kahn saying he wants a group of 24-26 year olds Gortat would be the one to go after, which would work well as he is probably the most attainable. Personally I think signing Gortat would be a much better move than drafting Thabeet. I also think this item has been moved to #2 on the to do list which means that #2 is now #1…


2) A point guard: Certainly the team has a solid player in Randy Foye that some have argued is the teams point guard of the future. However looking at the breakdown of the Wolves 5-man units at 82games.com from this past season notice who the SG is on all of our best ones. Yes folks its Randy Foye. Honestly I’m conflicted on Foye. I think he’s comparable to Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry and would be a great scoring 6th man guard that can play both 1+2 and would play starters minutes off the bench. Part of me says hes not the long-term solution at PG for the Wolves because I don’t see him creating for his teammates very often. The other side says that paired with the right back-court mate who can create his own shot to go along with a Big Man in Jefferson who is also good enough to score on his own and I think it could work out well with Foye at the point. I think that trading for Hinrich could work out quite well or drafting a player at #6 like Tyreke Evans who can create his own shot and get to the basket at will would also work well. Both players are bigger than Foye and could match up well with SG’s on defense. The other part of me (that says Foye should play SG) says the Wolves should be looking at Johnny Flynn at #6 who fills the role of a more traditional PG and would be an upgrade over Telfair.

I think this is #1 on the list now and I really think (and hope) Kahn is going to go get Rubio on Thursday. One of the big things I’ve been thinking about is that the Wolves desperately need a leader on this team. Think about it. Jefferson doesn’t seem vocal enough, Love is the hard working type of guy with a winning pedigree, and Foye is just not that guy (unlike Brandon Roy who is, sigh.) Foye really is somewhat of a disappointment across the board. (I don’t want to beat up on Foye as he definitely has skill and can play, but really he is average to good in everything and not great at anything in particular which is a hard piece to build around. Again a good 6th man but nothing more than that I don’t think. Ultimately based on what Kahn has been saying I think Foye’s days as a Wolf are numbered but if not I think he could thrive in the 6th man/sparkplug role and could even start at SG until the guy we take at #6 develops a bit.

As for what Rubio would bring to the team, (I’ll have more on what I think of him as a prospect tomorrow in the draft preview.) I really think he is the true pg this team needs. Not many pass first guys that trully make their teammates better come into this league with as much potential as Rubio. I think he’s the Wolves answer at the point.

If the Wolves fall short in getting Rubio I hope they can use a piece or two to improve the #18 pick or straight up add another pick in the 10-16 range to take Ty Lawson. I think Rubio has superstar potential but I also think Lawson has star written all over him. (I’m thinking the next Chauncey Billups) Again more on this tomorrow.

3) Athletic Scorers – Again the Wolves haven’t had an athletic scorer since Marbury left town. Drafting Evans, Flynn, or maybe Stephen Curry would change that. Don’t see a ton of trade options for a player that fits this mold either.

The good news? As I alluded to above I think the Wolves may be end Thursday night with two top 6 picks. Kahn should be able to move up to #2 to either straight up with Memphis or after an initial trade with the Wiz at #5 to add to their package without including #6. That would allow them to nab the atletic scorer they need with the #6 pick most likely in either Evans or Curry depending who’s left.

Other Considerations:

It’ll be interesting to see what Kahn does in his first month on the job and how he starts building the team and shaping it into his vision of a contender. Personally I think they should bring back McHale as coach for three reasons,1) he connects with the players well can commands their respect, 2) as a result of that connection he seems to do well developing players (especially big men), and 3) because really there aren’t that many better options available unless you can convince a guy like Jeff Van Gundy to come to Minny or sign away a top assistant like Tom Thibodeau from the Boston Celtics.

Well we’ve got our answer here. I’m not too upset about McHale leaving, (See here) although I think we could have lived with him as coach. As stated earlier I think Sam Mitchell who did well with a less than talented team in Toronto or Marc Jackson would be good choices and if they could get Terry Porter as an assistant that would be good too. (Not sure if he could/would take an assitant role as he is still getting paid by Phoenix quite a bit of money for half a season. Love how that works in this league.)

Looking Forward:

Since we all like to play GM here’s my stab at what I would try and realistically do this summer if I were running the Wolves:

1. Draft Tyreke Evans with the #6 pick in the NBA draft and B.J. Mullens with #18.
2. Trade #28 for a future first round pick.
3. Trade Mike Miller to the Bulls for Kirk Hinrich
4. Sign Chris Andersen, Anderson Varejao, or Marcin Gortat with the full-midlevel exception.

I don’t think anyone could disagree that every one of these moves is completely fathomable for the Wolves to be able to make this summer. The only thing that would need a little luck is being able to convince The Birdman or Varejao to sign with us. The Birdman probably prefers the mid-level in Denver if they offer it and Varejao may command slightly more than the MLE. That being said Gortat might be had by the Wolves with their full MLE.

With these moves the Wolves Depth Chart looks something like this with the percentage of minutes broken down:

PG: Kirk Hinrich (40%) / Sebastian Telfair (30%) / Randy Foye (20%) / Tyreke Evans (10%)
SG: Randy Foye (40%) / Tyreke Evans (25%) / Kirk Hinrich (20%) / Rodney Carney (15%)
SF: Ryan Gomes (33%) / Corey Brewer (33%) / Rodney Carney (33%)
PF: Kevin Love (40%) / Al Jefferson (30%) / Craig Smith (20%) / Ryan Gomes (10%)
C:
Andersen/Varejao/Gortat (40%) / Al Jefferson (30%) / Kevin Love (20%) / B.J. Mullens (10%)

That’s a playoff teams folks! And a fairly good one at that. Notice also how the roles become more defined even and that we basically have a solid 3-player rotation both in the backcourt and in the frontcourt without giving up our flexibility? Then we can fill in at SF whatever player we need based on the matchups that night. This is a solid NBA team in my opinion that could compete in the West right away next year.

Ok here’s my updated plan of attack for the Wolves:

1. Trade Mike Miller to the Washington Wizards for the #5 pick and Mike James.

2. Trade #5, Craig Smith and a future top 10 protected 1st  to the Grizzlies for the #2 pick and Greg Buckner.

3. Use the #18 on the BPA (Best Player Available) Hopefully a guy like Earl Clark falls here.  The Wolves are said to have promised Austin Daye that they’ll take him if he’s available here and in Chad Ford’s latest mock draft he was available. Daye would seem to fit in with Kahn wanting to add shooters to the team. Mullens is still an option as well but may be gone.

4. Sign Marcin Gortat (Or Chris Andersen or Anderson Varejao if possible) with as much of the midlevel exception as necessary.

5. Hire Sam Mitchell as coach.

I don’t think anyone could disagree that every one of these moves is completely fathomable for the Wolves to be able to make this summer. The only thing that would need a little luck is being able to convince The Birdman or Varejao to sign with us. The Birdman probably prefers the mid-level in Denver if they offer it and Varejao may command slightly more than the MLE. That being said Gortat might be had by the Wolves with their full MLE.

With these moves the Wolves Depth Chart looks something like this with the percentage of minutes broken down:

PG: Ricky Rubio (50%) / Sebastian Telfair (25%) / Mike James (15%) / Randy Foye (10%)
SG:
Randy Foye (40%) / Curry/Evans (40%) / Rodney Carney (10%) / Greg Buckner (10%)
SF:  Corey Brewer (30%) / Austin Daye (30%) / Ryan Gomes (20%) / Rodney Carney (20%)
PF: Kevin Love (40%) / Al Jefferson (30%) / Ryan Gomes (30%)
C:
Gortat (50%) / Al Jefferson (30%) / Kevin Love (20%)

That’s a playoff teams folks! And a fairly good one at that. Notice also how the roles become more defined even and that we basically have a solid 3-player rotation both in the backcourt and in the frontcourt without giving up our flexibility? Then we can fill in at SF whatever player we need based on the matchups that night. This is a solid NBA team in my opinion that could compete in the West right away next year.

Same thoughts here with this lineup. Probably a borderline playoff team this year with Rubio getting his feet wet and Curry/Evans also getting significant minutes.

That’s my State of the Wolves Part II right now, next up I’ll have a more in depth look at the draft and what the Wolves should look foron Thursday.

Feel free to leave your comments below or Twitter them to me @howlintwolf. Also I’m up and running over at Ball Hype as well so if you want to give me some love it’s always appreciated.

Howls on Curry canceling his workout with the Wolves…

A quick note on the news on Stephen Curry canceling his workout with the Wolves:

Obviously it looks like Curry wants to be a Knick and does not want to be T-Wolf.

So what should the Wolves do if Curry is the BPA (best player available) at #6 on June 25th? Personally I don’t think you can pass on him. Curry is not Steve Francis and is not the type of player who would put up such a fight that he would sit out and not play. He might drag his feet on the way to camp but sooner than later it’s in his best interest to play and be a team guy. Of course this would also allow Kahn to have a nice trade chip especially if the Knicks really want him as much as is being rumored. Could the Wolves trade Curry for say sparkplug and solid six-man Nate Robinson who the Knicks don’t have enough money to resign (once they give Lee a boatload of money)? Or a possible future 1st round pick and either versatile swingman Wilson Chandler or the #8 pick where they could take Flynn? Kahn won’t be able to fleece his old mentor Donnie Walsh the same as others have Isaiah Thomas in the past but you have to believe their friendship will offer plenty of trade talk and options shoud a situation like this come together on draft day.

EDIT 6/13/09: Kahn agrees the skipped workout is not enough to force him to not draft Curry.

Draft Analysis…

Ok Howlers here is the HT-Dub draft preview…

Obviously I covered a little bit before in the Draft Howls and the State of the Wolves. (And sorry for the break in the action… I’ll try and make this make up for it and be as comprehensive as possible)

A lot of what should influence the direction of the team under David Kahn on Draft day is going to be who is coaching. I think McHale would be worth keeping as I’ve stated however that’s looking less like a possibility as time rolls on and the Wolves don’t have a head coach evaluating the players at our workouts. With this in mind its hard to decide what type of scheme the Wolves will be running next year. With Big Al slimming down you could even argue the Wolves have the right parts for a push the ball type offense or a more slow it down run the set in the half court and control the ball type team (like they did under Flip with KG/Sam/Spree). So as it looks like we will go another direction which, as explained by Jerry Zgoda at the Trib makes a lot of sense because of McHale’s hold over Taylor and Kahn’s desire to cut that tie, I can’t help but think that the Wolves would be a great spot for Avery Johnson or Jeff Van Gundy but an even better spot for Sam Mitchell. Certainly Thibodeau as I’ve mentioned before would be good too, but Mitchell is a MN guy and a proven coach who showed he can win in Toronto. So my personal preference would be Mitchell and I think he could really help the team take a step forward with the right pieces. That being said I’m not really sure if there’s a blueprint for a Mitchell team other than to have guys that are warriors and compete night in and night out. He did try and push the tempo in Toronto so that might influence it. Keep in mind also that Mitchell has ties to 3 of Kahn’s close friends in the business in that he played in Indiana for Donnie Walsh and Larry Brown, and also I think was a representative for the Players Association to David Stern as well. As it looks like we won’t get a coaching resolution anyway lets take a look around the league at who the “experts” think the Wolves will nab with their #6 1st Round pick.

SOURCE,
PROJECTION
COMMENTS
CollegeHoopsUpdate.com
Tyreke Evans
FR, Memphis
6-5/220 PG/SG
With a new GM, a roster shakeup is certainly possible. As it stands, there is a talented foundation, with the Wolves needing a guard to pair with Randy Foye, length up front to rotate with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love and a wing. Mike Miller and this pick could be used to move up or acquire a proven talent.
CollegeHoops.net
James Harden
So, ASU
6-5/220 SG
Strengths: An explosive scorer… Shoots for an extremely high % everywhere on the court (FG, 3Pt, FT). Great at getting fouled and knocking down his free throws. Has three-point range on his jumper. Very good rebounder and assist man for his position. Young – will only be 20-years-old when next NBA season begins. Strong, solid build – won’t be pushed around in the NBA. Great at playing the passing lanes – led the Pac-10 in steals his freshman year. Smooth and under control. Mature and poised. Unselfish player. Used to being double-teamed.
Weaknesses: Not a standout athlete – not especially quick or a high leaper. Questionable foot-speed may limit his ability to guard one-on-one effectively in the NBA. Will be short for a shooting guard (may only be 6’4”). Turns the ball over too often.
Draft Express.com
Tyreke Evans
FR, Memphis
6-5/220 PG/SG
Has the scoring tools to be productive, but needs to improve his perimeter arsenal to be efficient. Was the top player on our list in possessions used per game as a finisher at 8.8, and his PPP of 1.14 lands him a bit above average. Unfortunately, his overall PPP was .88, which lands him slightly below average and exposes the biggest weakness in his offensive game: his jump shot. Getting fouled at an average rate and not being too turnover prone, whichever team drafts Evans needs to take the time to develop his jumper to help the transition of his dribble-drive game to the NBA.
ESPN.com (Insider)
Stephen Curry
JR, Davidson
6-3/180 PG/SG
Analysis: The Wolves really need help at center and point guard. There aren’t any centers left worth taking. They’ve been looking at Evans here, but in this mock draft, he’s already off the board. Curry becomes an interesting prospect if Evans is gone.

He can play both positions on the floor and combined with Randy Foye could give the Wolves a pretty formidable backcourt. Curry’s maturity, his dead-eye shooting and his name recognition all make this a pretty smart pick for the Wolves.

HoopsHype.com
James Harden
SO, ASU
6-5/220 SG
Versatile lefty shooting guard who is equally effective creating shots for himself and others. Efficient player with terrific scoring instincts both shooting the ball from the perimeter or getting to the basket and drawing fouls. Very advanced player with an outstanding feel for the game and excellent court vision. Solid defender who knows how to fill up the stat sheet. Has average size for his position and is not incredibly explosive to compensate. Ball-handling skills are improvable, especially with right hand. Polished, mature player, with good, but not great upside, even though he’s extremely young for his class.
HoopsWorld.com
James Harden
SO, ASU
6-5/220 SG
From Draft Express: It appears that he’s one of those players who “finds a way to get by” despite his shortcomings.Very efficient, while maintaining fairly high usage rates. In spite of his perceived athletic limitations, Harden was a terrific finisher around the basket this season. Harden’s biggest shortcoming ended up being in the perimeter shooting department. Harden’s intelligence and excellent skill-level really shine through in his ability to score in transition. Something NBA types will be happy to learn is that Harden created quite a bit of offense by himself in isolation type situations. Harden turns the ball over at a fairly high rate, and isn’t as effective driving right (39% FG) as he is going left (44% FG)—which makes sense since he’s left-handed. He also doesn’t draw quite as many fouls as you might hope. However, it is more than safe to say that Harden could be a very effective offensive player if team’s put him position to succeed.
InsideHoops.com
Demar DeRozan
FR, USC
6-6/220 SF
(None)
MyNBADraft.com
Tyreke Evans
FR, Memphis
6-5/220 PG/SG
(None)
NBADraft.net
Demar DeRozan
FR, USC
6-6/220 SF
Strengths: Possesses the prototypical frame for an NBA wing …Incredible leaper and explosive finisher. Vertical is reportedly 40 inches plus … His head is even with the rim on many of his dunks … Has all but mastered the art of the mid-range game … Shoots the ball exceptionally well from inside 20 feet. At his best with one dribble and then elevating, preferably to his left … Moves well without the ball, always looking for creases in the defense … Uses screens well and comes off ready to fire … Puts his unique package of leaping ability and strength to good use on the glass … Excellent offensive rebounder (2.4 per game) … Finishes strong around the basket, but shows finesse and variety with floaters and spin moves Puts in a strong effort on the defensive end. Weaknesses: Still very much a work in progress, filled with untapped potential … Despite all of his physical attributes, is often satisfied to ‘go with the flow’… He plays hard, but rarely full throttle … Passion to be a superstar has always been questioned .. Needs to enhance range on his jumper … Shot only 17% from three in his one season at USC, attempting only 1 per game … He steps into his mid-range jumper well, but tends to fade away on three point attempts … Despite a picturesque stroke, shot only 65% from the FT line … His ball handling needs a lot of work … Rarely, if ever, takes more than one dribble to his left without pulling up or spinning back right … Not much of a passer or facilitator (1.5 assists per game) … Has a quick first step, but not dynamic … His ceiling is unlimited, but needs to add many significant dimensions to his game.
NBA-draft.com
Tyreke Evans
FR, Memphis
6-5/220 PG/SG
Strengths: Good size/physique/length (6’11” wingspan) … Scorer’s Mentality … Great Penetration Ability, can beat his defender one-on-one off the dribble … Extremely quick first step/Great Explosiveness … Good ball moves/Excellent Ball-Handling ability
Weaknesses: Below average basketball IQ … Must improve fundamentals … Poor decision making … Team Player? … bad jump shot
ProBasketballNews.com
James Harden
SO, ASU
6-5/220 SG
The Wolves need another scorer who can get his own shot to help take some pressure off Al Jefferson, and the reigning Pac-10 Player of the year has a chance to
chance to fill that role immediately.
RealGM.com
James Harden
SO, ASU
6-5/220 SG
The best situation for Harden would be OKC, where he could be a secondary scorer and get team’s second best wing defender, but he would be a nice fit in Minnesota where he can offset the interior scoring of Jefferson and Love.
SportingNews.com
Stephen Curry
JR, Davidson
6-3/180 PG/SG
Many are assuming he’ll be there for the taking when the Knicks pick. Not so fast.
TheHoopsReport.com
Tyreke Evans
FR, Memphis
6-5/220 PG/SG
(None)

So the consensus seems to be a backcourt guy and most likely Evans, Harden, or Curry depending on who’s left on the board. I like Evans fit with Foye as I said in the State of the Wolves post but I could also make an argument for Harden and Curry as well. Both guys bring shooting we need and a desire to compete as well.

Coming up next… Kahn finally sheds a little light on his thinking…