Hi everyone. Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Got caught up with work and my leisurely blog has taken a hit. But I’m back and looking forward to posting more often now.
Tonight is the NBA Draft. For the first time in team history the Wolves are picking #1. It’s downright shocking this franchise, in all its awfulness, never had the top pick before. Today they have 2 #1s on the roster and will soon have 3. I believe the “Kandi-Man” was also a #1 they picked up later.
But tonight has a different feel for Wolves fans. Not only do you have the #1 pick, but you also have a promising roster. Andrew Wiggins is a star in the making, Rubio is a veteran PG who, with the right players around him, could be a nice piece. Kevin Martin is an ideal 6th man scoring guard but on this roster probably still has to start. Levine and Muhammed can be impactful players down the road. What this team needs is another star, probably either a PF or C. That being said let’s take a look at the top 3 players in tonight’s draft.
Karl Anthony-Towns: The PF from Kentucky is the likely top pick to the Wolves. He’s a great all-around big. More mobile defensively than Okafor and has better range offensively. He also is a much better FT shooter. The knocks on Towns are that he’s good at a lot and not great at anything (yet). He’s not Anthony Davis, who will become a top 5 player in this league soon if he isn’t already. He certainly fits the NBA in 2015. He can guard and run the pick n roll or pop. He defends the ball screens well. He runs, jumps, blocks shots. Another knock I’ve heard on Towns is his potential maybe isn’t as high as others. How much better will he get?
Jahlil Okafor: The Duke center was the likely top pick for much of the college season. But he got exposed a little in the pick n roll game, especially during the NCAA Tournament. Coach K couldn’t take him off the floor because of his offensive value, but you saw Duke actually play much better defense with him on the bench. And that is what is keeping Okafor from being the top pick in some minds. He’s not a good defender (yet), especially on ball screens. He struggles at the FT line. And for his size he’s not a great shot-blocker. That being said, his offensive game is nearly unstoppable. He shot over 65% from the field and made other bigs look sad. He has a huge frame, thick through the lower body, huge hands and can make shots with both hands around the basket. He has a better offensive game than Towns right now, but would have to improve dramatically on defense. If Flip Saunders and the Wolves believe he can drop some weight, become more durable and quicker laterally, his ceiling may be higher than Towns’.
D’Angelo Russell: The combo guard from Ohio State is the most intriguing player in this draft. Many NBA executives have said he’s likely the best overall player in the draft. But history also suggests teams over-value big men and likely would take Towns or Okafor over him. It’s a guard-driven league today though and NBA teams know it. Russell showed extremely high basketball IQ with the ball in his hands. He’s able to create for others and score in multiple ways. He has the size to play either guard spot, on the ball or off. He, like Okafor, isn’t the greatest defender. He needs work staying engaged defensively. Russell won’t be able to get away on athleticism alone in the NBA and needs to play better position defense. But again, NBA teams feel like they can coach defense to pretty much any young player. What they can’t teach are Russell’s offensive gifts. It wouldn’t shock me if the Lakers took Russell 2nd and paired him with a big they get via Free Agency or Trade, i.e. Demarcus Cousins, Lamarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love.
My Prediction: The Wolves pick Towns and roll into 2015-16 with a starting lineup of Rubio, Martin, Wiggins, Towns and Pekovic. Off the bench they bring Dieng, Muhammed, Levine, Garnett and probably some new back-up point guard or someone they take later in the draft. Will they bring Tyus Jones home to Minnesota? I doubt it. Either way, this team if healthy will be a contender for the last playoff spots. One thing I could see is the Wolves feel Dieng and Garnett can protect the rim and stop the ball screen well enough to draft Okafor, but I highly doubt it. With Wiggins and Rubio staying put for now I don’t see Russell being a fit. A combo of Towns and Wiggins for 3-4 years guaranteed can bring a lot of success to this franchise and I think it’s the safest bet at this point.