What Will the Timberwolves Do With the 9th Pick?

GREGORY SHAMUS/GETTY IMAGES

GREGORY SHAMUS/GETTY IMAGES

Representing the Timberwolves at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery was Kevin Love, carrying a Ricky Rubio #9 action figure as his lucky charm. However, the Wolves failed to beat the slim odds of moving up and officially own the 9th overall selection in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft. The news came as no shocker given that Minnesota only had about a 6% chance of moving up into the top 3, while having almost an 82% chance of staying put at their original position.

With new management taking over – led by former Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders – it will be imperative for the new boss to make his mark by erasing the infamous legacy of poor drafting left behind by David Kahn. While Saunders has discussed in the media that he is open to discussing trades for the 9th and 26th selections – whether to move up in the draft or to acquire a veteran – it remains to be seen what Minnesota’s course of action will be under the new regime.

Barring any serious injuries, the Timberwolves expect to have a fully healthy roster by the time training camp arrives. With the probable starting lineup of Rubio-Ridnour-Kirilenko-Love-Pekovic returning, the glaring need for a shooting guard will be the top priority to be addressed either through the draft or in free agency.

Options at #9

If the Wolves decide to stand pat and hold on to their pick, the prospects most likely to hear their name called by Minnesota include UCLA SG/SF Shabazz Muhammad, Indiana PF/C Cody Zeller, Georia SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lehigh combo guard C.J. McCollum, and Maryland C Alex Len. Unfortunately, the chances of grabbing a franchise SG at 9 are slim as top ranked SGs Victor Oladipo (Indiana) and Ben McLemore (Kansas) figure to be gone by the 5th pick. However, as we have seen in the past, a lot can change between now and draft night and Minnesota may find that patience may be the best course of action.

Is trading up the answer?

With two first-round picks and the pressing need for a legitimate SG, Minnesota very well may look to get aggressive and package their picks and possibly even a player under contract in order to move into the top 5 with the hopes of taking either Oladipo or McLemore. This could be a smart route as the Wolves may be only a true SG and good health away from contending for a playoff spot. Make that a legitimate shooting guard who can shoot three-pointers and play defense, and then we are talking about Minnesota as potentially being next season’s Golden State Warriors.

Ideally, the Timberwolves would like to come away with Oladipo as he possesses a complimentary package of elite athleticism, great size/length, shooting ability and a high motor on defense all the while possessing high character and a winning attitude. McLemore may be the more physically gifted player, but he may have a tougher time adapting to a role in which he is asked to shoot less while giving more effort on the defensive end. I don’t doubt that McLemore could become an All-Star, but he will no doubt endure significant growing pains playing second, third or fourth fiddle on a team.

Trade for an established veteran?

The Timberwolves may decide that winning in the short term is most important and that it would be unwise and overly risky to give so much responsibility to a rookie, so they could make a move similar to last summer’s acquisition of Chase Budinger by shipping away one or both of their first round picks in order to acquire a proven veteran at SG. One name that comes immediately to mind is Boston SG Courtney Lee, a player that Rick Adelman is very familiar with and who played well in Adelman’s corner offense. While I do not feel that it would be of fair value to acquire the inconsistent Lee for a more promising top-10 pick, I would not mind seeing Lee in a Wolves uniform as it would address several needs.

As new ownership moves in for the Sacramento Kings, there will undoubtedly be many phone calls made to Kings management for several of the team’s players. One guy that the Wolves could try and pull away from Sacramento is SG Marcus Thornton, a tremendous three-point shooter who thrives when left open on the perimeter. Sure, he is not one of the premier defenders in the league, but his smooth stroke from downtown would provide an enormous upgrade for the Wolves at the 2-guard position.

Another intriguing offseason storyline will be the fate of Indiana Pacers SG/SF Danny Granger, who missed the previous season due to knee troubles. After the emergence of budding superstar Paul George this season, the former Pacers top scoring option will likely be dealt as his skill set overlaps too much with the younger and cheaper George. Could Indiana look to exchange their dynamic scorer for a top-10 draft pick and a contract or two to match? Granger has one season remaining on his contract and is scheduled to make just over $14 million next year and recently turned 30 years of age.

These are just a couple possibilities that the Wolves could look to in order to fix the current mess at SG, and they will most likely check in on the availability of several players around the league before pulling the trigger. Whatever route the team decides to go in, there will undoubtedly be a new starter in the backcourt for Minnesota next season and how that player ends up playing could have a profound effect on the Wolves’ playoff chances.

Comments

  1. John says

    I am all for trading up and going after McLemore. I’d be willing to give up more for him (read: DWill) than Oladipo, who I like a lot as well. If neither is an option via trade, I would really like to go after Mayo and Henderson in FA.

    I hate assuming that Pekovic is going to return, that might come back to bite us. However, assuming we do keep Pek, I would be OK with letting AK47 go if it meant a solid rookie + Mayo/Handerson. AK47 isn’t a long term solution and we can’t sacrifice other moves that have a greater long term effect on the team just to keep him around for 60 games or so next season.