Posted on: June 27, 2012 10:37 am
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF Kentucky
- Done deal.
2. * Cleveland Cavaliers – Bradley Beal, SG Florida Thomas Robinson, PF Kansas
- I’m predicting a trade here in which the Cavs deal their #4 and #24 to move up with Charlotte. Visions of an Irving-Beal backcourt are too damn sexy to resist.
3. Washington Wizards – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Kentucky
- MKG pairs great with John Wall’s up tempo style of play.
4. * Charlotte Bobcats – Harrison Barnes, SF North Carolina
- The Bobcats have almost nothing so from this draft they want multiple assets and a marketable face. This trade gives them both. The hometown kid, Barnes, should go over well.
5. Sacramento Kings – Thomas Robinson, PF Kansas
- Robinson and Cousins will make a very nice front court. Robinson with the fundamentals, high bball IQ, high motor, effort and character. Cousins with the sick talent, suspect conditioning, and childlike mood swings. All bases covered.
6. Portland Trailblazers – Damien Lillard, PG Weber State
- A bit of a stretch but the Blazers want a PG and Lilliard has been great in workouts.
7. ** Houston Rockets - Andre Drummond, C Connecticut - My second predicted trade. Rockets use two of their three 1st rounders to move up and take the big man they have been trying to get since their failed Pau Gasol trade last offseason.
8. Toronto Raptors – Dion Waiters, SG Syracuse - No easy pick for the Raptors here. Waiters is what they call a workout warrior and DeMar DeRozan is tiring in the eyes of a lot of folks in Toronto.
9. Detroit Pistons – Meyers Leonard, C Illinois - This allows Greg Monroe to shift down and dominate lesser PFs.
10. New Orleans Hornets – Tyler Zellers, C North Carolina - Emeka Okafor is gone, Chris Kaman will be shortly. Zellers and Davis round out their brand new rookie frontcourt.
11. Portland Trailblazers – Austin Rivers, SG Duke
- Jamal Crawford will either be traded on draft night or he’ll opt out of his deal. This leaves the Blazers backcourt wide open.
12. Milwaukee Bucks – John Henson, PF North Carolina
- The Bucks have to be tired of trying to pass Drew Gooden off as a legit PF. Henson gives them some shot blocking to replace what they’ll be missing in Bogut.
13. Phoenix Suns – Terrence Ross, SF Washington
- Ross has vaulted his stock through workouts. Even ahead of the next guy.
14. ** Golden State Warriors – Jeremy Lamb, SG Connecticut
- The Warriors feel comfortable in moving down from #7 because there is no one available there that they can’t get here. They’ll hope for Ross at this spot but settle on Lamb.
15. Philadelphia 76ers – Jared Sullinger, PF Ohio State
- He won’t fall any further. The 76ers and Doug Collins are in win-now mode. Sullinger can best contribute to that. Although, the Brand-Sullinger injury worries might be hard to ignore.
16. ** Golden State Warriors – Perry Jones, PF Baylor
- Jones fits the tall-athletic-project mold that GS always seems to make (ie. Anthony Randolph, Brandon Wright, etc…). At this point, Jones is a great homerun pick.
17. Dallas Mavericks – Terrence Jones, PF Kentucky
- Jones is extremely versatile and a super athlete. I think he’s a bust, but this seems like a logical spot.
18. Houston Rockets – Kendall Marshall, PG North Carolina
- This pick is totally based on the rumored rift between Kyle Lowry and Kevin McHale. With Goran Dragic in the fold I’m betting they’ll jettison Lowry before long.
19. Orlando Magic – Arnett Moultrie, PF Mississippi State
- Let the attempted filling of Dwight Howard’s shoes begin.
20. Denver Nuggets – Moe Harkless, SF St. Johns
- Denver’s needs are tough to assess but at this point I think they’ll take the most upside available. That’s Harkless. He can play either wing spot and will have time to develop in Denver.
21. Boston Celtics – Royce White, PF Iowa State
- The Celtics need almost everything. I could see Denver taking White one pick before. If so, then slot Harkless in here.
22. Boston Celtics – Fab Melo, C Syracuse
- Even if he does come back, Boston cannot start KG at center again.
23. Atlanta Hawks – Evan Fournier, SG France
- Without any glaring needs the Hawks take an upside pick who can potentially be stashed in Europe for another year.
24. * Charlotte Bobcats – Andrew Nicholson, PF St. Bonaventure
- Nicholson has potential and has a solid offensive game. They need that next to Bismack Biyombo, who has no offensive game.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Will Barton, SG Memphis
- I think the Griz know OJ Mayo is gone so they take the hometown kid who can probably fill Mayo’s shoes surprisingly well.
26. Indiana Pacers – Marquis Teague, PG Duke
- George Hill is a RFA. There’s a good chance they’re going to need another PG next to Darren Collison, who has failed to take the step to the next level of PGs thus far.
27. Miami Heat – Festus Ezeli, C Vanderbilt
- Just like Boston, they need size.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Draymond Green, PF Michigan State
- 75% chance OKC either trades out of this spot or takes a Eurostash. If they do pick, Green seems like the kind of blue collar smash mouth big that would do well there. Their weakness in a Ibaka-Ken Perkins front court was exposed by the Heat.
29. Chicago Bulls – John Jenkins, SG Vanderbilt
- Good chance Kyle Korver is gone and Jenkins is the best 3 point shooter in the draft. Also, Rip Hamilton is old.
30. Golden State Warriors – Quincy Miller, SF Batylor
Almost no way to really predict this pick. Miller represents the most upside left on the board and also a potential need at SF for the Warriors.
Posted on: June 25, 2012 10:11 am
These rankings aren't actually player rankings. Rather, they are a ranking of the likelyhood of each possible outcome from this week's NBA draft as it pertains to the Minnesota Timberwolves. You'll catch on.
1. Trade the Pick
- The Wolves absolutely want to win now. Check that, need to win. David Kahn’s job likely depends on it. Rick Adelman, who maybe has one or two years left, is probably demanding it. Sustaining the momentum made with the fan base means they have to win now. I think the most likely scenario is that the pick gets dealt, probably in a package with other assets. For the record, I’m all in favor of dealing this pick but only if it goes towards a legit player.
2. Terrence Ross, SG WASHINGTON
- Ross remains the most ideal mix of talent and team need. He’s got size, athleticism and a legit 3 point range. He’s also a true SG, and mercifully removes the novelty from the SFs and PGs that the Wolves have attempted to start at the position over the past few seasons. I think there is a good chance that Ross will be available at #18, although apparently he’s been gaining buzz in recent days. If Ross goes before #18 I can almost guarantee that someone will be available here that wasn’t supposed to be.
3. Will Barton, SG Memphis
- An underrated prospect at this point. Great height at 6’6” and an explosive all around scorer, but the main knock is that he’s rail thin. Like, Corey Brewer thin. That sort of comparison will take him out of the running right off the bat with a lot of Wolves fans. #18 would be a bit of a reach but there’s no denying the talent. He averaged 18 ppg last season to go with an impressive 8 rebs a game, which might somewhat calm fears that he can’t be physical. Another big thing about Barton is that he’s an emotional (in a good way) type player. Highly vocal, plays with incredible passion. I like players like that. One final bit here, if you’re into reading the clues and whatnot, the Wolves only worked out two legitimate 1<sup>st</sup> round players, Barton and Royce White. Could mean something, could mean nothing. We’ll see.
4. Royce White, F IOWA STATE
- If Derrick Williams wasn’t in the mix I would say White had a much better chance of being the pick here. If Williams gets dealt during the draft, as many are predicting, White has a great chance of being the pick. He’s an intriguing talent. A lot of players get the ‘point forward’ title but White is the real deal. He’s an amazing passer for his size and counters with great power in the post. There is upside in this pick, which is why I’d prefer White over some random SG who just happens by title to fill a need.
5. Fab Melo, C SYRACUSE
- This pick makes sense but will make a lot of Wolves fans cringe for two reasons. One, he’s not a wing player, their most dire position of need, and two, he’s from Syracuse, a seriously negative stigma in Wolvesland thanks to Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson. But like I said, the pick makes sense. Almost as much as a SG, the Wolves were painfully inadequate in the shot blocking department last season. Melo averaged 3 blocks a game. His offensive game is raw at best but with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic on board that isn’t a huge deal. Finally, Melo represents upside. There’s definite risk but at this point in the draft why not go for a homerun?
6. Moe Harkless, SF ST. JOHNS
- I think there’s virtually no chance Harkless goes before #18. He’s got supreme athleticism and a lot of room still to grow. The problem, and it’s a big one, is that he’s not a good shooter. I just don’t see a scenario in which the Wolves take a wing who can’t shoot. Plus, I could only see them taking a SF who they think can be better than Derrick Williams. I doubt that person is Harkless.
7. Tyler Zellers, C UNC
- Same logic as Melo. Zellers is more polished and has less of a bust potential. That being said, his ceiling isn’t nearly as high and if you take Zellers I think you’re basically admitting you’re okay with getting an 8<sup>th</sup> and 9<sup>th</sup> man in a winning rotation. That’s too boring for me. Roll the dice.
8. Quincy Miller, SF Baylor
- Terrific size at 6’10” for a SF. Good shooter, worldly athleticism, tons of potential. The deal breakers: he’s rail thin and doesn’t really know how to play basketball. He also didn’t demonstrate a ton of success in coming back from an ACL tear. The Wolves want to win now so taking a total project like Miller doesn’t seem likely. On the flip, if you’re looking for a total and complete payoff/gamble type pick, this could be it.
9. Austin Rivers, SG DUKE
- This would be the ideal pick, in my opinion. I love Rivers’ game. A lot of people are down on him because they say he’s a diva. I don’t see it. To me, the knocks on Rivers remind me of the knocks that prevented Steph Curry from being a top 5 pick a few years back – they’re just white noise. Rivers will be long gone by #18 but if by some miracle he’s still on the board he’s a no-brainer pick.
10. Bradley Beal, SG FLORIDA
- A long shot, but also some reason to it. The Wolves could deal Williams to move up to #2 and take Beal. It’s one of the few Williams trade scenarios that actually makes sense from a Wolves perspective. Replace potential with potential, except for the new potential fills your #1 need. If they could somehow do that while keeping #18 and then with the pick snag Royce White I’d safely label this draft a massive win.
Others….Dion Waiters, SG SYRACUSE; Jeremy Lamb, SG UCONN; John Henson, PF UNC; Jared Sullinger, PF OHIO STATE
- These guys all make sense for their own reasons but none of them, barring a fluke, are going to fall to #18. Waiters and Lamb would be worthy of SG consideration but they’ll both be gone in lottery. If Henson or Sullinger do manage to fall, this pick is probably getting traded.
What do you think? What are you hoping for?
Posted on: June 16, 2011 8:22 pm
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, PG DUKE
* All sorts of misdirection in the media, but I still say there is a 90% chance Irving goes here, just as the BPA should.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, SF/PF ARIZONA
* Will they trade it? Flip a coin. Williams may be redundant to Beasley, but Beasley hasn’t proven himself to be the sort of talent you pass on the consensus #2 talent in the draft for. The only question that remains is whether or not Williams actually is the #2 talent.
3. Utah Jazz – Brandon Knight, PG KENTUCKY
* Personally, I’d go Kanter here and get rid of Mehmet Okur as soon as possible. However, it seems like the Jazz really want a guard and the PG pedigree at Kentucky makes Knight the no brainer pick.
* Kanter plays below the rim for a center but JJ Hickson and Anderson Varejao will serve as a nice compliment. I think there is a good chance Kanter, whether taken here or earlier, ends up with the Wolves.
5. Toronto Raptors – Kemba Walker, PG CONNECTICUT
* Toronto gets not only the play making guard they so desperately need but also a star personality to help everyone forget about the loss of Chris Bosh.
6. Washington Wizards – Kawhi Leonard, SF SAN DIEGO STATE
7. Sacramento Kings – Jimmer Fredette, PG BYU
* Fredette is a great backcourt mate for Tyreke Evans. What Evans lacks in shooting, Fredette more than makes up for. What Fredette lacks in defense Evans makes up for. Or at least, has the ability to make up for.
8. Detroit Pistons – Jonas Valanciunas, C LITHUANIA
* Valanciunas has incredible potential and would be a tremendous compliment to Greg Monroe. The only hesitation I have about this pick is if echos of Darko still linger in Detroit and they’ll be skittish about taking another Euro-big this high.
9. Charlotte Bobcats – Jan Vesely, SF CZECH REPUBLIC
* Charlotte is weak at every position. So they go BPA in Vesely. Questions about how the Euro game translates to the NBA aside, I think this guy has top 5 talent in the draft.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Alec Burks, SG COLORADO
* This pick seems destined to be. The Wiz might grab Burks at #6. The Bobcats might snipe him at #9. However, I don’t expect either of those things likely to happen.
11. Golden State Warriors – Chris Singleton, SF/PF FLORIDA STATE
* Defense will be the new name of the game in Golden State. Singleton has all the tools to be an elite defensive presence in the league for many years to come.
12. Utah Jazz – Klay Thompson, SG WASHINGTON STATE
13. Phoenix Suns – Marcus Morris, PF KANSAS
* This is a very un-Phoenix like pick but he’s the BPA and the Suns may be starting to think about life after Nash. Plus, Morris will be ready to contribute from Day 1.
14. Houston Rockets – Jordan Hamilton, SF TEXAS
* This would be the first real reach of the draft. Hamilton represents a direct need in scoring from the wing position. Fellow Longhorn, Tristan Thompson, is a better prospect but with Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill already in the mix, there’s really no room for him.
15. Indiana Pacers – Marshon Brooks, SG PROVIDENCE
* Assuming Indiana feels good about Tyler Hansbrough at PF, SG is the one glaring need. Brooks packs a fair amount of boom or bust potential, but should add some punch to a fringe Eastern playoff team.
16. Philadelphia 76ers – Tristan Thompson, PF TEXAS
* Elton Brand was productive last year but his presence on the roster is a formality. When his insanely huge deal runs out Brand will be on the first flight out of Philly. Thompson will then step in as the starting PF of the future.
17. New York Knicks – Markieff Morris, PF KANSAS
* This pick will be the result of D’Antoni trying to prove to ownership that he is serious about improving defensively. Morris is a limited upside pick but he will bring some grit that Amare and Carmelo do not.
18. Washington Wizards – Donatas Montiejunas, PF/C LITHUANIA
* No one with the upside of Montiejunas who doesn’t add to the position jam they already have is still available. He reminds almost everyone of Andres Bargnani, which would compliment a JaVale McGee-Andray Blatche front court well.
19. Charlotte Bobcats – Josh Selby, SG KANSAS
* This feels like a Michael Jordan pick to me. The Bobcats were one of the worst offensive teams last year. This should help with that.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Bismack Biyombo, PF/C CONGO
* Biyombo has major upside and ultra rare physical gifts, but he is a long ways away from being ready to play at the NBA level. This would be a great value pick for the Wolves.
21. Portland Trailblazers – Nolan Smith, PG DUKE
22. Denver Nuggets – Tobias Harris, PF TENNESSEE
* I can’t imagine the Nuggets will bring back Kenyon Martin and so they’ll seek his replacement here. There are some questions about whether or not Harris is big enough to play PF in the NBA. I think he is.
23. Houston Rockets – Nikola Vucevic, C USC
* Yao Ming is not walking through the door. McHale is known for coaching up big guys and Vucevic is a talented 7 footer. Seems like a good match.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kenneth Faried, PF MOREHEAD STATE
* With Serge Ibaka and Kenneth Faried, OKC will feature two hard nosed, blue collar mashers at the 4 spot. If Faried gets decent minutes he’ll average 10 boards a game without much difficulty at all.
25. Boston Celtics – Jordan Williams, PF/C MARYLAND
* The need someone to replace Shaq and Kendrick Perkins. Williams is the closest thing in the draft.
26. Dallas Mavericks – Kyle Singler, SF DUKE
* I doubt they’ll bring back Peja Stojakovic or Caron Butler, which means they have a need for some bench scoring from the wing position. Singler is big-game tested and will be able to step into a meaningful role from the beginning.
27. New Jersey Nets – Tyler Honeycutt, SG/SF UCLA* Honecutt is a classic wing who underachieved his college expectations. He’s still very young and has the size and excellent athleticism to grow into his talent. Plus, he's from New Jersey.
28. Chicago Bulls – Malcolm Lee, SG UCLA
* Malcom Lee didn’t get a lot of attention at college, but that sort of seems to be the trend with a lot of UCLA players who go on to produce at the next level. He has legit size and if they add nothing else, could probably replace Keith Bogans as the starting 2 guard.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Davis Bertens, SF LATVIA
- This Spurs have consistently cleaned up by grabbing bigtime Euro talents and giving them time to develop. That will continue here. Bertens is an amazing shooter but will probably need another year or two before he’s physically ready for the NBA.
30. Chicago Bulls – Trey Thompkins, PF Georgia
- With Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson in the fold Thompkins doesn't have an immediate place to play. I just think he has a tremendous amount of talent and is worth drafting here. He's got good size and a knack for scoring, which is something the Bulls didn't consistently get from their bigs last season.
Posted on: May 23, 2011 8:58 pm
You're wondering how to interpret this thing, right? Well, it's fairly self-explanatory. Just know that the number in parentheses after the player's name is my overall ranking of that player based on pure talent and potential.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, PG DUKE (1)
The Cavs could get creative if they think Brandon Knight is comparable to Irving and as a result, take Derrick Williams here and hope for Knight at #4. In the end, I think they’ll go Irving. The NBA is becoming a league dominated by elite point guards, the Cavs can’t pass one up. The only question that remains: who wants Baron Davis?
Other possibility – Derrick Williams or Enes Kanter, likelihood of either: low
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, SF/PF ARIZONA (2)
If Ricky Rubio signs, as is rumored, getting the #2 pick is probably just the same as getting #1. There is no question they will shop this pick and it seems like there could be a fair amount of interest in either Williams or Enes Kanter, especially if the new CBA lowers the cap and teams around the league look to cut salary. If they can’t turn this pick into a borderline star they’ll probably take Williams, although Kanter also makes a lot of sense.
Other possibility – Kyrie Irving (steal) or Enes Kanter (reach)
3. Utah Jazz – Enes Kanter, C TURKEY (3)
In my opinion, there are three no brainer top 3 picks in this draft and they are represented by the top 3 picks in this mock. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if by June 23 Kanter has auditioned himself into the top 2. He’s big, strong, offensively gifted and quick for his size. As a prospect, the only thing he’s not is a shot blocker. This would create a bit of a jam in Utah’s front court but I’m guessing they’re done with Mehmet Okur and will try to move either Al Jefferson or Paul Milisap this offseason.
Other possibility: There’s a decent chance they’ll take Brandon Knight here instead. All depends on how they view Devin Harris in their long term plans.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jan Vesely, SF CZECH REPUBLIC (7)
If the Cavs don’t deal this pick I think they’ll go for a homerun. Any foreign player is tough to project in the NBA and so by default one taken this high is a big risk/reward pick. That being said, I think the Cavs view JJ Hickson as a solid big man to move forward with along with Irving. Vesely’s game has flashes of Dirk Nowitzki and Andrei Kirilenko and is fairly NBA ready. He'll be the first Euro after Kanter off the board.
Other possibility: If Enes Kanter falls there’s no doubt he’s the pick. Kawhi Leonard has an outside chance, as well.
5. Toronto Raptors – Brandon Knight, PG KENTUCKY (4)
Truth be told, I don’t know what the Raptors will do here. Andres Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis are likely building blocks for the future. They have Jose Calderon at point but he’s not a long term option, so I think they take the best player available in Knight.
Other possibility: Kemba Walker is likely if Knight is already gone. Jan Vesely will get a long look, but there could be some redundancy issues with him and Bargnani.
6. Washington Wizards – Marcus Morris, PF KANSAS (14)
Morris isn’t anything to get excited about (that was last year when they got John Wall) but he could end up being one of the safest bets in this whole draft. He plays hard and is good at everything you’d want a PF to be good at. This, of course, assumes they aren’t sold on Andrey Blatche as a legit starting piece. If they are, this pick will be different.
Other possibility: Kanter has said he wants to go to the Wiz so they may find a way to move up and get him. Also, if they lose Nick Young I think Alec Burks has a great chance of going here.
7. Sacramento Kings – Kawhi Leonard, SF SAN DIEGO STATE (11)
The Kings have a lot of wing players but none of them are very good. I get the feeling they aren’t pleased with the development of Tyreke Evans, especially as a makeshift point guard. They’ll think about taking a true point but the next best one is Kemba Walker and a Evans-Kemba backcourt would probably set the record for all time fewest assists by a starting guard duo. Leonard is a safe and slightly boring pick but he has very little bust potential and will compliment Evans and DeMarcus Cousins well as a guy who doesn’t need the ball to be effective.
Other possibility: Brandon Knight is their #1 scenario. Their #2 scenario is probably trading the pick. Leonard is #3. Marcus Morris is #4.
8. Detroit Pistons – Bismack Biyombo, PF CONGO (6)
They’ll be looking for Ben Wallace v2.0 when they make this pick. It will be fears of Darko Milicic v2.0 that will prevent them from taking the better overall prospect, Jonas Valenciunas. At first glance, Biyombo would make for a slightly unorthodox pairing with Greg Monroe but their games actually complement each other well. Together, the pair could grow into one of the most defensively dominate front courts in the league.
Other possibility: They need almost everything. Taking an upside player like Jonas Valenciunas wouldn’t be a surprise.
9. Charlotte Bobcats – Kemba Walker, PG UCONN (9)
Michael Jordan has a track record of drafting proven college players who have questionable upside in the pros. I suppose taking Kwame Brown first overall will tempt you to play things a little safe from there on out. Walker will fill a major need for the Bobcats at the very least, bring some excitement to a somewhat forgotten franchise.
Other possibility: Speaking of needing almost everything. The Bobcats can go in any direction. Kawhi Leonard to replace Gerald Wallace, or even better, a dude I love as a pro, Chris Singleton.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Alec Burks, SG Colorado (5)
Michael Redd is technically still on roster. John Salmons was underwhelming at best last season. The Bucks need help on the wing. Burks isn’t a great shooter but he is underrated in almost every other regard. He’d be a great pick at this spot.
Other possibility: They might opt for the better shooting SG in Klay Thompson or look to replace the Drew Gooden mistake and opt for Tristan Thompson.
11. Golden State Warriors – Jonas Valenciunas, C LITHUANIA (13)
The Warriors will do everything in their power to get rid of Andres Biedrins and his bloated contract. That will leave them with a severe lack of size in their frontcourt. If, and this might be a big “if”, Valenciunas is guaranteed to leave Europe and play in the NBA next season they’d be getting themselves a heck of a center prospect. GSW has shown in past years that they aren’t afraid to take projects, like they did with Anthony Randolph and Brandon Wright.
Other possibility: Bismack Biyombo would be the rim protector they need. Or they take the other big Euro, Donatas Montiejunas.
12. Utah Jazz – Jimmer Fredette, PG BYU (12)
Last year the Jazz sniped the hometown destiny pick of Gordon Heyward going to Indiana. This year maybe the Pacers will find a way to move up and return the favor. Jimmer would enter into a great environment in Utah. The fans already love him and he could develop his game behind Devin Harris for a season or two before the reigns are fully handed over.
Other possibility: They look at a wing like Leonard or Singleton. Kemba, if he falls, is an option here, too.
13. Phoenix Suns – Tristan Thompson, PF TEXAS (15)
The Suns could go after Steve Nash’s replacement but there isn’t anyone available who fits the bill. Thompson will give them an actual inside presence to offset the entirely outside presence that is Channing Frye.
Other possibility: If The Jimmer falls they’d love it. Otherwise, they’ll be glad to take either Marcus or Markieff Morris, in that order.
14. Houston Rockets - Donatas Montejiunas, PF LITHUANIA (21)
Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of this guy. I do, however, understand why scouts like him so much. He’s basically a clone of Andres Bargnani, or rather a clone of what people hoped Bargnani would be come. With the team already having begun the gradual descent out of the playoff tier of teams in the Western Conference, the Rockets will look to replace the massive hole left by Yao Ming.
Other possibility: Hometown kid, Jordan Hamilton, is a lethal scorer and would fill a major need for them on the wing.
The rest of my Top 20 prospects not listed above...
- Kenneth Faried, PF MOREHEAD STATE (8)
- Chris Singleton, SF FLORIDA STATE (10)
- Josh Selby, PG/SG KANSAS (16)
- Klay Thompson, SG WASHINGTON (17)
- Jordan Hamilton, SF TEXAS (18)
- Marshon Brooks, SG PROVIDENCE (19)
- Reggie Jackson, PG BOSTON COLLEGE (20)
Posted on: June 24, 2010 1:11 pm
Wes Johnson, SF Syracuse
- Super athletic
- Good, clean jump shot
- Great transition player
- Has physical tools to be a solid defender
- Low maintenance, positive chemistry guy
- He’ll be 23 years old when next season starts
- Troubles creating own shot
- Ability to get to free thrown line
- Played Zone D in college
- Limited upside
Why The Wolves Will Draft Him
- Wesley Johnson represents the most glaring need for the Wolves. His ability to shoot, run the floor and defend NBA wings would immediately upgrade the team significantly. Some compare his upside to Shawn Marion, but I think an unselfish version of Rudy Gay with defensive commitment is more appropriate. If that’s true I think he warrants a pick at #4. Plus, I think the criticisms of his game are overrated. Most notably, his age. Remember, he sat out an entire season due to a transfer. Take that away and he’s the same age as Evan Turner. Another overrated knock is the fact that he played in the Syracuse zone, which means he’ll struggle with man. Let’s keep it in perspective, he played one season at Syracuse. His previous two years in college and high school he played man. Given his size and athletic ability, he should be able to thrive as a defender at the next level.
Derrick Favors, PF Georgia Tech
- Athletic freak
- Ridiculously strong already for age (19)
- Strong defender/shot blocker
- Tons of upside, pure talent to be a superstar
- Seems like a solid character guy
- Very raw, will need years to develop
- Not much offensive polish, relies on athleticism to score
- Somewhat unknown ability due to college system
- Motor and passion for the game are questionable
- Passive on the court at times
Why The Wolves Will Draft Him?
- Derrick Favors represents the most upside in this draft. If John Wall can be Chris Paul, then Favors can be Dwight Howard. Given the premium on size, I think most owners take Howard over Paul. Of course, Wall still deserves to go #1 because he’s much closer to reaching his potential, whereas Favors has a lot more room to grow or even possibly bust. Drafting Favors would initiate a roster revolution that would start with the dealing of Al Jefferson or Kevin Love and so in a way, it would be the least convenient of the three possible picks. Despite that, Favors still represents a no brainer pick at #4 because of his immense potential and the allure of eventually paring him with Ricky Rubio to form the next Steve Nash/Amare Stoudemire duo.
DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C Kentucky
- Refined offensive skill set
- Very young, lots of potential
- Runs floor pretty well for his size
- Plays with a mean streak
- Good passer
- Poor conditioning, aka overweight
- On and off court attitude concerns
- Immaturity, even considering his age
- Plays below the rim
- Played against much smaller opponents in college
Why The Wolves Will Take Him
- DeMarcus Cousins averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game as a freshman at Kentucky last year. Most impressively, he did so in only 22 minutes a game. That projects out to some pretty gaudy numbers if prorated out. At only 19 years of age the kid has incredible potential. Less concerning than his physical liabilities are the major red flags surrounding his attitude and psyche. He’s demonstrated a notable lack of composure in the past and investing millions of dollars and the future of your franchise in someone like that is a risky proposition for a team like the Wolves who can’t afford any more draft day debacles. Consider this: what would DeMarcus Cousins had been like if he were on the Wolves last season during a 15 win campaign? Can you imagine him staying positive, cheering his teammates on and remaining optimistic about the growth of the team? I can’t either, which is why I would be surprised if Cousins goes #4 on Thursday night.
Posted on: May 14, 2010 12:38 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2010 12:46 pm
In a few days David Stern will decide the draft order, I mean conduct the lottery. When that goes down this scenario will undoubtedly change almost completely. Until that time, here's how things will shake out according to me.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves - Evan Turner, SG Ohio State In some ways it would be better for the Wolves to land #2 instead of #1 - less drama. Turner is a perfect fit.
3. Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins, C Kentucky I’m banking on him overcoming attitude concerns in pre-draft interviews. On talent alone, he’s an easy top 3 pick.
5. Washington Wizards - Wesley Johnson, SF Syracuse The Wiz need everything and Johnson might be the most NBA ready player overall.
6. Philadelphia 76ers - Greg Monroe, PF Georgetown Stock started high this year, then dipped, now it’s back on the rise. The 76ers like Mareese Speights but he’s nothing to build around.
8. Los Angeles Clippers - Al-Farouq Aminu, SF Wake Forest He could go as high as #5 but he’s probably 2 years away from contributing, that will make him fall. The Clips are a good fit.
9. Utah Jazz - Cole Aldrich, C Kansas Boozer is gone and Okur is fading. Aldrich fits the Utah mold and will be a good defensive match for the slightly undersized Paul Milsap.
10. Indiana Pacers - Gordon Heyward, SF Butler A big reach but so was Hansbrough (which I called weeks before the draft). Hometown kid who many compare to Larry Bird. The stars align.
13. Toronto Raptors - Ed Davis PF North Carolina He falls further than he probably should but based on his play this year he deserves it. Makes sense to try and fill the inevitable Bosh void.
14. Houston Rockets - Patrick Patterson, PF Kentucky An undersized power forward who can shoot the 3? It’s as if the Rockets themselves crafted him in their own image.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves - James Anderson, SG Oklahoma State Wolves continue the backcourt overhaul. Anderson lacks elite athleticism but is an extremely skilled scorer nonetheless.
18. Miami Heat - Avery Bradley, SG Texas He’s the perfect sort of PG to play with Wade. One who isn’t a particularly good distributor but can defend the perimeter and score with efficiency.
19. Boston Celtics - Damion James, SF Texas Celtics snag the best available talent. James is versatile, high energy and ready to contribute right away.
20. San Antonio Spurs - Dominique Jones, SG South Florida Like Avery Bradley, he’s a scoring two guard in a point guard’s body. He could thrive in a reserve roll with the Spurs. Who doesn’t?
21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Larry Sanders, PF VCU They need front court help. Enter Sanders. At this point in the draft a roleplayer is all you can hope for.
22. Portland Trailblazers - Willie Warren, PG Oklahoma Blazers have no glaring needs so they go with Warren, who will replace Jerryd Bayless on the depth chart.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves - Paul George, SF Fresno State Last year it was PGs, this year it’s wings for the Wolves. That’s okay, they need as much help as they can get there.
24. Atlanta Hawks - Daniel Orton, C Kentucky Amazingly, the 5th Kentucky player taken in the 1st round. The Magic fully exposed the Hawks’ lack of size in the playoffs this year.
25. Memphis Grizzlies - Elliot Williams, SG Memphis Added depth and hometown kid. In my opinion, a Chris Douglas-Roberts clone in every way.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder - Solomon Alabi, C Florida State He can’t be worse than Thabeet and considering he would be taken 24 spots later that probably makes him a super steal.
27. New Jersey Nets - Gani Lawal, PF Georgia Tech They’ll hope for a DeJuan Blair type return with Lawal. PF is their weakest spot, which is really saying something.
28. Memphis Grizzlies - Stanley Robinson, SF Connecticut Robinson is a decent talent who underachieved big time at UConn. Could protect them against Rudy Gay leaving.
29. Orlando Magic - Darrington Hobson, SF New Mexico I'm a huge fan of Hobson. Sort of an Evan Turner-light. He'll probably fall into the 2nd round but I think he's a 1st round talent.
30. Washington Wizards - Lance Stephenson, SG Cincinnati This guy has the talent to climb up to the late teens if his workouts go well.
Posted on: October 15, 2009 6:28 pm
On May 22nd of this year, after an exhaustive and seemingly blundered search for a new Head of Basketball Operations, the Timberwolves hired their apparent 3rd choice for the position in David Kahn. Typical fan reaction ranged from anger to disbelief to apathy, or some combination of the three. Today, I'd estimate that at least 8 out of 10 of those fans would take it all back.
Imagine, if you will, you went into a coma back on May 22nd and awoke from it today. Also imagine that by some strange twist of fate you were a demented Wolves fan whose rabid obsession and supposed first thought after coming out of a four month coma is “What happened with the Wolves this summer?” Your family would try to convince you to talk about your emotions or them or your life, but you’d be unstoppably obsessed with talking some T-Wolves. Well, you’d definitely be a sick S.O.B. but I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t respect you for it. I’d sit you down and fill you in on the details but you’d probably have a hard time believing all that had gone down in one short summer. Sure, you’d recognize a few of the names but for the most part you’d be waking up to a whole new team.
Wrath of Kahn
It all started with the hiring of David Kahn. Before him, however, was a flirtation with Spurs Assistant GM, Dennis Lindsey. He has the pedigree to make him a no brainer pick for GM but in a moderate dis to the Timberwolves organization he essentially said he'd rather be an assistant with the Spurs than the main man with the Wolves. In vain, I sit here unable to think of a more cordial way to say ‘fuck him’. It's worth noting that he did the same thing with the Atlanta Hawks last offseason. Then there was Blazers Assistant GM, Tom Penn. Kevin Pritchard's (Blazers super-GM) right hand man is largely credited with being instrumental to the Blazers impressive youth movement. Penn was apparently ready to sign but at the last minute Paul Allen (Blazers uber rich owner) swept in and offered him a ridiculous pay raise to stay in Portland. This plus other illuminating details that came out in the wake of everything suggest that Penn never intended to leave Portland and was instead merely using Minnesota as leverage to get a new contract. They're only rumors, but based on the credibility of the rumors I believe every one of them, which of course earns an even more impressive and emphatic ‘double fuck him’.
And then there was Kahn. All anyone knew was that he was some ex-Pacers guy under Donnie Walsh who hadn't been in the NBA since 2002 and spent the last few years fiddling around in the NBDL and heading up a grassroots movement to get a Major League Baseball team in Oregon, which obviously never happened. Even worse, his reputation was as a business-minded man as oppose to a basketball-minded man. The story went that in Indiana Walsh was the personnel guy who put the championship contending teams together. Kahn was the finance guy who worked the cap. The prevailing thought amongst jaded fans was that Glen Taylor had gone ahead and hired a guy with the savvy to save him a few more Bucks, which was a somewhat deserved reaction considering the plethora of painfully frugal moves the Wolves have made over the past few years.
Anyways, it happens. Kahn shows up for his press conference. He's pasty white and looks to be maybe 5'7" at most. He's seems way too articulate and dainty to be a real sports guy. But then he starts to talk about his vision of the Wolves future. He talks big. He promises change. A change in organizational philosophy. A change in personnel. A change in the way the Wolves are perceived around the league. He says no team will work harder. He says no front office will be more diligent and persistent. He says once again the Target Center with be full of rambunctious and howling fans. I've got to admit, it was convincing. Only talk, but somewhat convincing. Of course, Wolves fans have heard plenty of talk over the years, much of it hollow and void of follow through, most of it from the previous man in charge, Kevin McHale.
McHale was no longer in charge but he was still the head coach. His presence in the organization was quite literally likened to a cancer. A little dramatic, yes, but I agree with the general principle of the analogy. No matter how small or potentially insignificant, he had to be removed. The team could not begin to rebuild until it was cleansed of his toxic presence and allowed to build a new image of its own. Sure, Kahn talked a big game but if he wouldn't/couldn't get rid of McHale then it would be apparent to everyone who still cared to pay attention that he was, in the end, just a Taylor pawn.
Kahn and McHale had a number of lunches and dinners and probably even a few brunches in which they reportedly discussed the future direction of the team and McHale's roll within it. The longer events transpired, the more likely it appeared that McHale would be retained. But then the axe suddenly fell and McHale was for all intents and purposes, decapitated. I can now empathize with the citizens of Baghdad who saw the oversized statue of Saddam Hussein ripped down by chains and drug off to a scrap heap somewhere. We knew the day would eventually have to come, but it still didn't seem possible that it would come in our lifetimes.
For the sake of bringing some order to the personnel chaos that ensued after McHale’s firing, I’ve organized the various transactions into three categories: the draft, trades and free agency. Behold.
One thing you can credit McHale with his a late-tenure run in which he unloaded many of the terrible contracts he had previously signed players to for future assets. So even though David Kahn has done an impressive job in a short amount of time, you’ve also got to remember that much of the flexibility that allowed him to do so much was inherited. But, as they say, it is what it is.
Heading into the 2009 NBA Draft the Timberwolves had an impressive four 1st Round Picks and two 2nd Round Picks. Two of those picks, the #5 and #6 overall selections (I’ll get into how that #5 pick was acquired later on), would/will define this draft. Those two picks represented the organizations opportunity to add significant pieces to the core of this team moving forward.
Blake Griffin is taken #1 by the Clippers. No surprise there. Hasheem Thabeet went #2 overall. Thank you, Memphis. James Harden goes #3 to Oklahoma City. A somewhat surprising pick because, you know, this team should be in Seattle. Sacramento drops the bomb when they take Tyreke Evans at #4. Evans is a very talented player but for a team with virtually no identity it seems like Rubio would have been the ideal player to build a team around. But perhaps they saw the writing on the wall. The Wolves were then up with two straight picks and the guy who seemed like a total pipe dream is there for the taking.
The following is the approximate inner monologue of a Wolves fan in the moments leading up to the #5 pick in this year’s draft: Would he want play in Minnesota? Is he going to stay in Europe? Can he even play against us big, bad Americans? Screw it, draft him. He’s the BPA, no doubt. Shit, here comes Stern. Why does he always have that stupid grin? We took Ricky Rubio! We took Ricky Rubio! Fans everywhere erupt! We, yes “we”, got the 2nd most talented player in the draft with the #5 pick. A star caliber talent, something all NBA championship teams are built around, just fell into our laps. There are a lot of logistics still to be worked out, but who cares. We got Rubio!
What can I say, I’m a Rubeo. Get it? Rube + Rubio. I made that up.
Then came the #6 pick. Stephen Curry seemed like a logical choice, although a Curry/Rubio backcourt would have been perhaps the smallest in the league. DeMar DeRozan made sense. But taking him at #6 would be a stretch even though the Wolves needed a shooting guard to pair with their new point guard of the future. So naturally, they took Jonny Flynn, the point guard.
It didn’t make much sense at the time. Some think it still doesn’t. Why take two point guards? Well, let me answer that self-imposed question. It’s my belief that there are four types of NBA teams. 1) Legitimate contenders who are stockpiling veteran talent in order to have the deepest and most ready to win team possible. 2) Mediocre pretenders who add whatever talent they can with the goal of winning a lot, but never winning the big one. 3) Rebuilding teams whose primary goal should be acquiring as much young talent as possible, regardless of position. #4) The New York Knicks. The Wolves are that #3 type of team. Right now, taking two point guards can’t make a lot of sense from the appearance of things but if Kahn & Co. believed that Rubio and Flynn were the two best players available then taking them both is so much better than being short sighted and taking a worse player just because it fills out a roster sheet better than the alternative. Then and today, drafting Ricky Rubio was the absolute right thing to do.
Obviously, the Rubio situation has played out with the conclusion that he will be playing in Spain for at least two more years. Do yourself a favor and don’t believe any of the tabloid nonsense that the Chad Fords and Rick Buchers of the world love to spew. Rubio has no qualms about playing in Minnesota. He is not demanding to be traded to a major market. He is not afraid of snow or of playing with Jonny Flynn. If any of it were remotely true he would have played that card by now so as to increase his leverage. He, nor his agent, has ever said anything of the sort. This is all about money. When Rubio wasn’t selected in the first three picks he not only lost out on quite a bit of money on the NBA rookie salary scale but he also triggered a clause in his Nike contract that would have paid him substantially more had he gone in those first three picks. Rubio and his people made the decision that they would not come to the NBA if it would put him at a major financial loss, even in just the short term.
Finally, don’t sleep on Wayne Ellington. He was taken with the #29 overall pick (acquired via Boston in the KG trade). He’s not a huge upside guy but his game right now is very solid and he will get major minutes as a rookie.
The Timberwolves have made seven trades since Kahn arrived. Most have been financial chess moves in order to position themselves to be heavy free agent players in the 2010 offseason. A couple of the trades have actually been about acquiring talent. In chronological order they are…
1. Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington for Darius Songalia, Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov and the #5 pick in the 2009 draft. This was easily the most noteworthy of the trades made. I’ve already delved enough into the Rubio situation and the rest of the incoming assets can be summed up in the following statement: Etan Thomas was a salary chip, as was Darius Songalia, and Oleksiy Pecherov is a low-risk, low-salary Euro flier. The non-Rubio intriguing aspect of this trade was who the Wolves dealt: Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Foye, though not his fault, was the total embodiment of the McHale blunder years. People got over and even partially sympathized with the Joe Smith fiasco (thanks to Premier Stern and his resounding “FUCK YOU” to the people of Minnesota). Given the circumstances, no one could really blame McHale for letting Chauncey Billups go. Ndudi Ebi was a bust but he was also the 28th overall pick so it’s not like he passed on Michael Jordan or anything. But Foye, that was inexcusable. The Wolves had Brandon Roy in their possession. He was a Timberwolf for a few fleeting seconds and McHale let him go…for Randy Foye….and cash. Cheap and stupid. Double whammy. Roy goes on to become one of the top shooting guards in the league. Foye goes on to sustain a major injury, demonstrate the inability to play the position they drafted him to play, and struggles through unwatchable bouts of inconsistency. If Brandon Roy is on the Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett probably still is too. The Wolves are most likely legitimate contenders in the Western Conference. Target Center is undoubtedly packed with fans. But instead, the past plays out as it did, McHale goes into hiding, and the fans have no choice but to unleash their fury on the guy who represents what could have been, Randy Foye. Sad to say, trading him was trading more than a player. It was trading a scar. Mike Miller, to a lesser extent, was another McHale gem. Landing Miller when they did was the justification for trading OJ Mayo for Kevin Love. Sounded good at the time but Miller, like so many other skilled role players, failed to produce when a team actually needed him to be “the guy”. The difference here is that Kevin Love, unlike Foye, actually endeared himself to fans through hard work and definitive signs of potential. I would guess that up to 60-70% of Wolves fans today, if given the choice of Mayo or Love straight up, would go Love.
2. Ty Lawson to Denver for their 2010 1st Round Pick (via Charlotte, top 12 protected). He was the best player available on the board at the time of this pick but with Flynn and Rubio already selected he had no purpose in Minnesota. The national commentators erupted with laughter (3 point guards!) in response to this pick, but that’s mostly because they are irrational morons who either don’t know the facts or choose to ignore them in favor of sensationalism. Here’s hoping Charlotte just barely misses the playoffs this year.
3. Nick Calathes to Dallas for their 2010 2nd Pick. Solid player but he’ll be in Greece for as long as Rubio is in Spain.
4. Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith and Mark Madsen to the Los Angeles Clippers for Quentin Richardson. Q-Rich is a very unlikeable player and so trading three likeable players for him seemed strange. But alas, this turned out to be one of those 2010 cap savers I mentioned before.
6. Quentin Richardson to Miami for Mark Blount. Whoa, did I say Q-Rich is unlikable? What does that make Blount? He’ll probably be cut or traded before you finish reading this sentence.
7. Darius Songalia and Bobby Brown to New Orleans for Antonio Daniels and a future 2nd Round Pick. This was a very savvy move to save five million dollars off next year’s cap. Daniels has a 0% chance of being on the roster come opening day.
The Wolves didn’t throw down any serious money on players but they did drop a fair amount on their next head coach. Unlike past hires, Dwayne Casey and Randy Wittman, who were given the job as much for their low salary demands as they were their skill and acumen, Kurt Rambis was the most high profile assistant on the market. When his name came up it didn’t seem like a real possibility because that’s just not what the Wolves do. They don’t go after the big names, they go after the big bargains. Right? Well, apparently not anymore. Hiring Rambis, who has two hands full of championship rings, both from his days as a coach and as a player, is sending a message that this thing is for real. He played the bulk of his career with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. He coached the better part of the last decade under Phil Jackson and for Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. When it comes to resume building, it doesn’t really get any better than that. And for those looking for the cosmic tie, he also famously clotheslined Kevin McHale in the 1984 NBA Finals.
Rambis continued the surprises by hiring an equally high profile team of assistants. Reggie Theus, Dave Wohl and Bill Laimbeer will join him on the bench this year and for the foreseeable future. Theus already has heading coaching experience from his short run with Sacramento. Wohl was with Boston when they drafted Al Jefferson and is credited with a lot of his development as a player. Laimbeer won three championships as head coach of the Detroit Shock (WNBA) and will be probably be good for humorous post game quotes.
As for the actual players, the Wolves added three guys that fit two criteria: 1) Young, talented and a healthy upside. 2) A financially low risk contract. Enter Ramon Sessions (23 years old, 4 year deal worth 16 million), Ryan Hollins (25 years old, 3 year deal worth 7 million) and Sasha Pavlovic (25 years old, 1 year contract worth 1.5 million).
Sessions is the most talented of the three and will see the most minutes on the court. Some people questioned why the Wolves would bring him in, even with the knowledge that Rubio won’t be here for a couple of years. I tend to believe that Sessions is part of the long-term plan, as oppose to the other theory which is that he’s merely keeping Rubio’s seat warm. He’s both insurance incase they trade Rubio or a trade asset in case Rubio actually shows up someday. Sessions also lends merit to David Kahn’s claim that he wants to build an up tempo team that utilizes a two point guard system. Detractors claimed that he invented that idea after drafting both Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn in an attempt to answer critics who loudly and sarcastically questioned “Why would you draft two point guards in the 1st Round?!?!” Apparently, because he wants them to play together.
Hollins technically fits a major team need. He’s long, athletic, a true center and a great shot blocker. That’s all a technicality because he’s yet to put it together in a game that matters for any sustained amount of time. He’s been buried on Dallas’ depth chart but in very limited action has shown some big time potential. Ultimately, however, he’s completely unproven and still very raw despite two years in the league. He could easily boom or bust but for a guy they only need about 10 minutes a game out of he’s a solid prospect.
Sasha’s role on the team isn’t entirely clear but I do expect him to get a fair amount of playing time. The obvious reasons for that include he can play the 2 or the 3, he’s one of the few players on the team that can shoot from long range, they don’t have many other alternatives on roster and they need to showcase his talents. With only a one year contract he’s unlikely to be on this team beyond this one year. That means he’ll be a prime candidate for a deadline deal to some playoff bound team looking for an experienced shooter with the added bonus of being an expiring contract.
The Season Begins
That about sums it up. The season opener is less than two weeks away. Leading up to that, we all witnessed one of the two most eventful offseasons in Timberwolves history. The other being the 2003-04 season, in which they stockpiled talent for a championship run. This year is equally as momentous but for the opposite reason. This offseason was about building a core that will one day contend not just for one championship, but for several, year after year. The answer is yes, Wolves fans, you can say that with a straight face and not be embarrassed.
Posted on: September 1, 2009 10:27 pm
If given the option, I would have prefered a scenario in which Brett Favre stayed retired and Ricky Rubio ditched Europe to suit up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But it went the other way and we're forced to put the Rubio dream on hold until an unimaginable time in the future called 2011. That's two full NBA seasons from now. All along this was a likely possibility but the apparent finality of the outcome still stings. Something that really needs to be acknowledged: the Wolves made an offer that was accepted by DKV Joventut, as did Barcelona. Rubio could have gone to either locale. He chose Barcelona. This decision was not at all a result of a lack of effort by David Kahn, Glen Taylor and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Let me also clear up the following...
Yes, absolutely, David Kahn did the right thing when he drafted Rubio with the 5th overall pick in June's draft. You'll hear from a lot of revisionists who don't actually know anything, but that won't stop them from saying how bad of a draft pick it was. First of all, Ricky Rubio is the undisputed #2 pick in the 2009 draft if he doesn't have the buyout situation hanging over him. When he was on the board at #5 the Wolves had to take him. If they would have passed on him with both of their picks they would have been signaling to the league and their fanbase that they weren't really serious about building a contender. They would have been signaling that deep down they, as an organization, don't feel entitled to acquire the top talent in the league and instead those players should be reserved for only the biggest of media markets. They would have been signaling to all the other punk ass kids across the Globe that if you pout and whine and make threats you can basically dictate to the NBA where you play. They would have been emphatically signaling that even though the guy running things was new, business was in fact business as usual for an organization with a built up reputation for letting top talent walk away on draft night. Who else should they have taken? DeMar DeRozan? DeRozan at #6 or Wayne Ellington at #29? I take Ellington as an enormous value ten out of ten times. Terrance Williams and Gerald Henderson would have been debacale picks. The only guy who makes any amount of sense is Stephen Curry but him and Jonny Flynn would have been an even worse defensive combo than Rubio and Flynn. Taking Rubio was a risk. No doubt about it. But it was a risk worth taking, regardless of the outcome.
Yes, trading Randy Foye and Mike Miller for the #5 pick, which became Ricky Rubio, was a good trade. Anyone who thinks Foye and Miller were anything more than roleplayers for the Timberwolves who contributed very little to team wins most likely isn't reading this blog. Trading those two marginal talents for a crack at a potential game changing star was a no brainer.
Jonny Flynn is the forgotten man in all of this. Flynn, the ultra charasmatic pure point guard with Chris Paul-like skills, is a Minnesota Timberwolf. He's the guy who grinned his ass off after getting drafted by the Timberwolves. He's the guy who showed up in Minneapolis the next day for the team press conference and spoke of wanting to be part of building a contender. He's the guy who said he was thrilled to be in Minnesota and looked forward to sharing the backcourt with Rubio. He's the guy who looked like an all-star veteran in the Vegas summer league. Yeah, that guy. Post draft there were just as many "experts" who claimed they would have taken Flynn ahead of Rubio as there were the opposite. All things considered, Flynn could very well turn out to be a much better player than the Spanish Golden Child. Rubio seemingly has all the potential and intangible star power in the world but as things are now, Flynn is faster, stronger, more athletic, more suited for the NBA game, a better defender and a better overall scorer. I'm not trying to blast Rubio now that he has scorned America, only highlight that Flynn is a hell of a player in his own right. He's a natural leader and from all accounts a really solid human being. I, honestly, sincerely, hope he takes the starting point guard spot and never even lets Rubio get a look at it.
Ricky Rubio is playing a very dangerous game. Of course, the game he's playing wouldn't be as dangerous if his primary motivation wasn't getting rich beyond his wildest dreams. If he was staying in Spain because he didn't feel like he wasn't ready for the NBA, that would be one thing. If he was staying in Spain because at the age of 18 he didn't feel mature enough to handle the leap to the US of A, that would be another. But this kid wants cash. Plain and simple, he wants to get paid and he followed the biggest pay check. That took him to Barcelona. He stood up before the draft and said it was his ultimate dream to play in the NBA and he would go to whatever team took him. But really, something was lost in translation. What he meant to say or should have said was that he wanted to play in the NBA so long as it was with New York or Los Angeles and he was able to rake in some serious bank by endorsing whatever slew of products offered the biggest pay off. The "for the love of the game" stuff was cute but regrettably turned out to be as transparent as it initially appeared. So the game he is playing is called dollars and cents, but it doesn't make all that much sense. He'll make a few more mil in the very short run but really he's just deferring the only true monster pay day he'll ever get by putting off his NBA career. Two more years until he signs his rookie contract. Four more years after that until he gets his assumed max contract. What could really happen in those six years, you ask? He could get injured playing against Euro trash hacks. He doesn't develop at a fast enough pace. He flat out sucks or is simply average. Jonny Flynn dominates. Out of sight, out of mind - people forget about him because he's toiling away in the middle of Spain somewhere. There's an NBA lock out and rookie salary scales are adjusted for the worse. Any of these factors, amongst many others, could damage or destroy whatever leverage he currently holds. The door to the NBA was wide open, as was the door to Barcelona. He chose his backyard over the big stage. Draw your own conclusions from that one.
If the offer was right, I would trade the rights to Ricky Rubio right now. If he isn't here for two more seasons that means the Wolves will go another two years without landing one of their franchise faces. Are they supposed to simply twiddle their thumbs in the meantime? The Spurs could maybe get away with that. This is a team, however, that hasn't been in the playoffs for four seasons. Two more without Rubio would make six seasons, and that's making the presumptious assumption that they'd make it during his first NBA season. I'm not saying this team needs to make a run immediately, but they do need to be on the upward swing by 2011, not still in full blown talent development. As I said above, Jonny Flynn needs to claim the PG job and make everyone forget about Rubio. Note that I wouldn't give Rubio away for scraps. The trade would have to yield another core player in return. One offer I would explore is dealing Rubio and some expiring contracts to the Clippers for Eric Gordon, one of their garbage contracts and the Wolves old 1st Round Pick back. To my understanding, Rubio has an affordable buyout in 2011 but can still be bought out at any point until then but for some unGodly fee in excess of 8 million dollars. Los Angeles is one of two cities that could make that happen. I know the Clippers like Gordon but I'm betting the allure of paring Rubio and Blake Griffin in the mold of Stockton-Malone would be too much to pass on. Not only would they be able to build around the promise of a future dynasty but they could also begin to challenge the Lakers monopoly on buzz in the city of Angels. The Wolves, on the other hand, get a young and underrated dynamic scorer. Gordon's lights out shooting would pair perfectly with Flynn's drive and dish game. Both Flynn and Gordon are slightly undersized for their positions but they easily make up for that with being abnormally strong and athletic for their positions. A core moving forward of Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn, Eric Gordon and 2010 Lottery Pick would be legitimate.
Peace out, ya'll.