Setting the stage:
I set expectations pretty low for Thursday night and still found myself disappointed with this franchise on yet another NBA Draft evening. Going into the draft we had heard a few rumors that Kevin Love was going to remain on the club beyond Thursday night and that there may have been a promise from the Wolves Front Office to another Bill Duffy client, Zach LaVine. I found neither of these rumors to be a positive for the franchise, yet, here we are post-draft and both have come to fruition.
Here are a few thoughts on the Timberwolves’ selections:
1st Round – #13 – Zach LaVine, Guard, UCLA
For the record, I actually like Zach LaVine’s potential in the NBA. He’s the type of player that you do take a swing on in the middle of the first round. However, I do not do that if I run the Timberwolves. First and foremost, we just drafted Shabazz Muhammad after his freshman year out of UCLA and that didn’t work out too well. We also have this three thousand pound gorilla in the franchise’s room named Kevin Love. Both played at UCLA, neither are likely to be in Minnesota very long.
Look, I get it if you don’t want to play the geography card, but it exists. Players choose to go to UCLA because of a solid reputation, but also because it is in sunny Los Angeles where it is at least 75 degrees outside most of the year. Minnesota is a culture shock for these players. I am not saying you never take a can’t miss prospect when he’s available and/or you avoid UCLA players at all costs. However, we don’t exactly have a stellar reputation around the league right now. All I had to see was LaVine’s reaction right after his name was announced. Everyone can try to spin this to the positive if they want, but that was a TERRIBLE reaction in my opinion. Specifically for the Wolves, I hated this pick.
There are two players that I would have absolutely taken before LaVine – James Young (who went to Boston at #17) and Gary Harris (who went to Chicago at #19). Don’t think for a second I don’t have a number of Kevin Love trade scenarios being built with those two teams in mind.
Easy comparisons to past Wolves’ picks: Rashad McCants and Wesley Johnson. Clearly better options on the table, clearly the Wolves made up their minds early and weren’t willing to look beyond their tunnel vision.
2nd Round – #40 – Glenn Robinson III, Guard, Michigan
Here is how the 40th pick went down from New Jersey:
The #Twolves don’t have roster spots and need room for Love trade return. Overseas players please
— john flesta (@jflesta) June 27, 2014
Of course, I like that pick. Added bonus, Bilas goes “long” for his summary. I have no idea what Wolves blueprint is.
— john flesta (@jflesta) June 27, 2014
So in summary, I really like the selection, I just have no idea how the Wolves are going to use Robinson III in their lineup. In fact, I would be shocked if he is on the opening day lineup given how this roster currently looks. Unless the team can find a team to take Kevin Martin (and maybe Alexey Shved), I just don’t see where this is going.
As for Robinson III himself, I think he has the chance to be a good pro in the long term. He obviously has the pedigree from his father, the “Big Dog”. He has great size for the wing and can probably play both positions well on either side of the floor. One of the bigger question marks is his motor, which is exactly what you could have said about his father after his first couple of seasons in the NBA.
Comparisons to past Wolves’ selections: Doug West and Chris Richard. Productive college career, Robinson is more than likely to get his career off to a slow start. Will he have the passion to make himself that much better (a la West) or will he fizzle (a la Richard).
2nd Round – #44 and #53 – Sold to Nets and Rockets, respectively
It wouldn’t be a Wolves Draft Party without the selling of draft picks, would it? Any time the front office uses the word “assets” in the future, know that while they are talking about draft picks that were acquired, they really mean “future cash considerations”.
Four foreign players + one NBA DL player were taken from pick 44 through the end of the draft. Not one of those guys could have been selected to help the long term future of this franchise? Not one of them will come to the NBA at some point in the future and be a contributor? Add to this that the Spurs took two college players with the 58th and 60th picks of the draft (from teams in the Central US / Texas area no less). There are significant differences with the success levels in these two franchises. You decide which one knows what they are doing on draft night.
I’m glad my expectations were set low for the evening because it could have gotten ugly. Starting at the very top, this franchise needs to look in the mirror and answer the question, “Are we really doing this the right way?”
The two players the Wolves wound up with could very well be solid pros. However, I don’t expect LaVine to be here beyond his rookie contract and I see Robinson III following the money to his second or third contract (as he should) when he starts to breakthrough.
Moving forward, the Wolves have to find a new home for Kevin Love before the start of the season. Beyond Golden State, I’d like to see rumors tied to Philadelphia (T. Young, Noel, Saric), Boston (Green, J. Young), and/or Denver (Afflalo, Harris). We’ll see where this goes.
Overall, I give the Timberwolves Draft an “Incomplete”. Just kidding, that’s an awful copout. I give the team a D+. They drop a full letter grade for selecting LaVine over several others, another letter and a half grade for selling picks, and a half a grade for not trading Love before the night was over. The “+” is for the talent they took, even though I don’t think it fits this roster.