Recap: Las Vegas Summer League – Wizards 67, Wolves 61

 

“Zach, you’re like this big bear man!” – Shabazz “Double Down” Muhammad

“Zach, you’re like this big bear man!” – Shabazz “Double Down” Muhammad

The Timberwolves and Wizards took to the floor a few minutes late in the last Las Vegas Summer League game of the evening on Sunday. Despite the late start, both teams looked to have cobwebs from the Vegas Strip, as both struggled to put together any type of consistency in their offensive scheme and flow. The teams equally split 44 turnovers on the evening, while also combining for 53 personal fouls (Wizards 27, Wolves 26).

The Pups opened up with the same starting five from Saturday’s kick-off game: Alexey Shved, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III, and Gorgui Dieng. Similar to what Wolves’ fans became accustomed to seeing this past regular season, once you got beyond the team’s starting five, things got quite murky on the floor. After a relatively strong start from both teams in the 1st quarter, the Wizards held a 26-21 lead going into the 2nd and that is where things began to fall apart. The Wolves only scored 28 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined and trailed the Wizards 57-49 after three. (The teams were tied at 35 going into halftime.) [Read more...]

Wolves Fall to Mavs in First Summer League Game, 93-85

Game Recap

Rookies. Flash. Hope. Promise. Those words embody what NBA Summer League is all about, and the Timberwolves first summer league game certainly possessed all of those things. Even with all the Love rumors still furiously swirling, fans pushed their worries aside for forty minutes to see the young talent that will hopefully be the future of the franchise.

The first quarter opened fast for the Wolves, with Zach LaVine throwing down an alley-oop just fifteen seconds in. From there, the Wolves struggled with consistency on both ends of the floor. After playing one game already, the Mavericks looked in sync, while the Wolves did a lot of flailing around trying to learn how to play with each other in the team’s first game.

Everything went downhill for the Wolves after the first quarter. An abundance of missed defensive rotations allowed the Mavs to build a 10-point lead heading into hafltime. It seemed like nobody was guarding the Mavs perimeter players for much of the game, especially Ricky Ledo. The Providence product hit 5 threes and finished with 21 points.

The Wolves offense was brutal in the third quarter as Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad, and Gorgui Dieng all combined to take bad, contested jump shots. LaVine began heating up after the half, scoring in a variety of ways.

In the fourth, the Wolves fought back to make it a game again, but it was too little too late. Their lack of defensive prowess and settling for generally bad shots most of the night brought about the team’s undoing.

Breaking down the guys that project to be on the NBA roster

Shabazz Muhammad

Putting the result aside, Muhammad was the player of the game. He dominated his man often, which is exactly what you want to see in summer league from a guy you want contributions from when the NBA regular season rolls around. He showed off his physicality, and he couldn’t be kept off the boards. His relentless effort got him several put-back buckets, which is a huge part of his game right now. He showed range on his shot, going 2-3 from beyond the arc. His problems remain the same. He still takes bad shots, and he needs to develop more advanced handles to diversify his drives to the rim. When his man cuts him off, he tends to give up easily and take a tough floater. He needs to learn how to muscle or finesse his way to the rim with regularity to become a more efficient player. Speaking of efficiency, he took a team-high 24 shots and made just 10 of those. While that is a ton of shots, it is not a big deal in summer league when he’s supposed to be “the guy.” His non-stop motor is still where most of his value stems from. When he settles into the NBA and develops his skill set, he could be a really good player for a long time.

Gorgui Dieng

Dieng is a really good example of a guy that plays within himself. He knows what he can and cannot do right now, and he doesn’t attempt to stray too far out of his comfort zone. He went 4-6 from the field today, and all of his buckets came in the paint. When he gets outside of the paint, he tends to struggle a bit. He had one strong move on the left baseline where muscled his defender out of the way and got to the rim, but that’s a rare occurrence. He looks uncomfortable in face up situations, as he possesses an average first step and no real killer move. To take his game to the next level, he will need to figure out other ways to get to the rim consistently besides just catching the ball under the basket. Much of Dieng’s value comes on the defensive end where he has so much value as an anchor in the paint and on the glass. He will be a double-double machine in summer league, but can he do that consistently when the real season rolls around?

Alexey Shved

Every summer league team needs a guy that plays out of control and chucks crazy shots at the rim. That guy for the Wolves is Alexey Shved. His first shot of the game was a three that came at least a couple feet behind the three-point line. He settled down a little from that point, getting to the rim with relative ease. On the pick-and-roll, Shved demonstrated the ability to turn the corner hard and accelerate straight towards the rim. The only way to stop him was to foul him, and he got to the line 9 times. He still makes passes he shouldn’t make that lead to turnovers. He only seems to be able to operate at lightning speed, but if he could ever slow the game down he might be a lot more serviceable.

Zach LaVine

It feels like the only skill of LaVine’s that ever gets mentioned is his athleticism. That’s not exactly fair to him though. He was slotted as the point guard at times, and he wasn’t bad. A couple times, he was able to execute a nice pick-and-roll with Dieng. He’s not a guy that’s going to make flashy passes right now, but he made the right play for the most part when he was serving as the primary ball-handler. Occasionally, he will try to force it, and that’s when things get away from him. He’ll try to thread the needle or throw a lob, and that’s just not his game. He didn’t shoot the ball great against the Mavs, but his mechanics are sound which is promising. Everything he does is smooth, and he looks so graceful slicing his way to the rim. Defensively, LaVine has some work to do. He’s not great at fighting through the screener on the pick-and-roll, and the Mavs got several buckets as a result. Overall, it was a solid first performance from the Wolves first 2014 draft pick.

Glenn Robinson III

Robinson will wish he could replay this game. He was a non-factor most of the night, and he struggled defensively. His lateral quickness isn’t up to snuff right now, and his defensive stance needs work. Offensively, Robinson needs to continue to work on his outside game. It would benefit his development in that area if he would take more than three per game during summer league. He did a couple nice buckets, but overall he was pretty underwhelming in game one.

Game 2 for the Wolves is on Monday at 3:30PM CT against the Chicago Bulls.

 

What Will It Take for the Cavs to Land Kevin Love?

 

Andrew Wiggins must be included in any deal from the Cavs. (Photo credit: John Locher AP Photo)

Andrew Wiggins must be included in any deal from the Cavs. (Photo credit: John Locher AP Photo)

Unless you just woke up from a 24 hour nap, you are well aware that LeBron James has decided to return to Cleveland and rejoin Dan Gilbert’s Cavs. Immediately, this decision opened up the trade rumors of Wolves’ All-Pro Kevin Love being sent to Cleveland to join LeBron and Kyrie Irving to form the latest edition of “the big three”.

However, the reports and rumors are swirling that Cleveland does not want to give up Andrew Wiggins, the #1 pick from last month’s draft. For most Wolves fans, this is a non-starter in negotiations. Either Wiggins is included in the deal or there is no deal. Wolves’ fans have to hope that Flip Saunders doesn’t blink first in negotiations with the Cavs front office. [Read more...]

Wolves Sign Zach LaVine

A happier moment for Zach LaVine at the 2014 NBA Draft (Brad Penner, USA Today Sports)

A happier moment for Zach LaVine at the 2014 NBA Draft (Brad Penner, USA Today Sports)

On Monday, the Timberwolves announced that they officially signed 1st round draft selection, Zach LaVine, to his rookie contract:

While official team rules don’t allow for it, a little digging suggests that the deal would likely be worth a little under $5.4 million for the next three seasons, with the following breakdown: $1,713,200 in 2014/15, $1,884,600 in 2015/16, and $1,965,700 in 2016/17. The new CBA calls for a 4th year option and a 5th year Qualifying Offer. As the 13th pick in the draft, the Wolves would owe LaVine a 42.9% increase on his official third year salary with that 4th year option and then a 38.3% increase on top of his official fourth year salary for his Qualifying Offer. [Read more...]

Glenn Robinson III Shows Strong Potential for Wolves

(photo credit: lockerdome.com)

(photo credit: lockerdome.com)Am

Among the seven rookies slated as part of the Timberwolves’ summer league roster is second-round draft pick Glenn Robinson III. The forward’s physicality was raved about prior to the Draft, and although only in his first week of practice, he looks to make a big impact with the Minnesota squad. Robinson III does have some areas to improve upon technicality-wise, but his athleticism and energy are exactly what head coach Flip Saunders aimed at.

“They add a lot of excitement to our team,” Saunders said of Robinson III and first-round pick Zach Lavine. “They’re going to become fan favorites. They’re our two highest-jumping guys right now — I do know that. We want to take that athleticism and turn them into basketball players … and with our team they’ll have good success.”

Robinson III started all 76 games of his two-year stint with the University of Michigan. During that time, he averaged 12 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. At the end of his sophomore year, Robinson III had totaled 912 career points. The forward is no stranger to pressure, as he  helped U-M to its first outright Big Ten regular-season title in 28 years. 

Now, at just 20 years old, Robinson III is taking in the NBA experience. He posted the following on Twitter Monday:

GRIIITweet

Timberwolves web editor Dane Mizutani gave a recap of the first offseason practice, saying it was far from “a casual offseason workout.”

“I’ve always believed that basketball is a game of reaction,” Saunders said. “We have to simulate pressure and demands of what’s going to happen in a game in a practice. We try to make it as difficult as we can to try and make it as close to a game time setting as possible.”

Practice ended with a scrimmage between the summer league starters and the summer league reserves, and Mizutani reported that the competition level was high. In the end it was the startersRobinson III, Lavine, Alexey Shved, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammedwho took the game.

“It’s a whole different level … and this is definitely the most competitive and amped-up practice [I’ve been a part of] physically and mentally,” Robinson III said. “It’ll take a little adjustment to get to but I thought we all did fine.”

The newbies will have the next two weeks or so to find their groove and become accustomed to Saunders’ coaching style. They will play with and take passes from more seasoned bench players, and now is their chance to prepare before they start practicing with starting point guard Ricky Rubio. Robinson III said he has spent a considerable amount of time viewing tape of Rubio’s technique and highlights, and he is looking forward to playing alongside him when preseason starts up in October.

There’s no guarantee that either Lavine or Robinson III will start, as the Wolves also carry veterans Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer who each have considerable experience running the floor with Rubio. However, it’s clear that Saunders has a long-term plan in mind for this year’s draft picks—and it involves regular-game minutes. 

According to the Star Tribune‘s Jerry Zgoda, Robinson III “believes both he and LaVine can help the Wolves ‘speed the tempo up a little bit’ with the Rubio running the show with the ball in his hands.”

Come October, it will be interesting to see how this new-look squad operates under Saunders’ return.

Wolves NBA Summer League Preview 2014

Our Pups will be participating in the Las Vegas edition of the NBA's Summer League again this season. (Photo: NBA.com)

Our Pups will be participating in the Las Vegas edition of the NBA’s Summer League again this season. (Photo: NBA.com)

(UPDATED 7/6 for final roster announcement)

The Minnesota Timberwolves will return to Las Vegas for their NBA Summer League action. Summer League play officially kicks off in Orlando from 7/5 – 7/11, which then runs right into the start of the action in Las Vegas. The Vegas league runs from 7/11 – 7/21 later this month.

Similar to last year’s Vegas league, each team will play three games and then be seeded accordingly based on their record for tournament style play. All of the action can be seen on NBA Digital and/or the NBA Summer League app. [Read more...]

Timberwolves Draft Recap 2014

Zach LaVine may or may not have reacted well to being drafted by the Timberwolves.  You can decide for yourselves.  (ESPN)

Zach LaVine may or may not have reacted well to being drafted by the Timberwolves. You can decide for yourselves. (ESPN)

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: [Read more...]

2014 NBA Mock Draft

The 2014 NBA draft is loaded with talent – arguably the most talented since the 2003 NBA Draft which we all remember very well. Because it is so talented and with NBA free agency and potential trades on the horizon, this draft was exceedingly difficult to predict. Teams at the top do not have to necessarily grab the best player, they can look at how they fit within the system because after the top two spots, it becomes a lot more wide-open. With the addition of LeBron James to the free agent market that already sports the likes of Carmelo Anthony (along with the Kevin Love trade rumors), there are a lot of possibilities. Many teams may attempt to trade back in the draft to save cap space, while others may try to trade up to grab a top-tier talent. Some teams will look to unload heavy contracts to free up cap space, while others might look to International talent to avoid up-front salary costs. In the top 10 alone, we should see 18-year olds as well as upperclassmen come off the board. It should be a wild ride as the draft approaches and through the rest of the off-season.

ROUND 1
  NO. TEAM PLAYER POS SCHOOL YEAR HT / WT
  1. Cleveland Andrew Wiggins SF Kansas Fr. 6-8 / 225

Analysis: Cleveland wanted Embiid despite being in more of a “win-now” mode than arguably all of the teams in the top 5 and that was a stretch with his given amount of necessary development. Now, he’s out of this spot, and they will turn Embiid’s teammate Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has long been heralded as the prospect with the most potential and while there are critics worried he will not live up to that potential, he will be an athletic freak that a the very minimum can stretch offenses and play exceptional defense. This is enough of a sure-thing that the Cavaliers can take him as a much lower risk than Anthony Bennet was last year. He also looks to be a better fit alongside Irving & Waiters. If this goes well for the Cavaliers, it will do a considerable amount to keep Kyrie in a Cavs uniform and maybe bring in another star (insert Lebron James comment here).

  2. Milwaukee Jabari Parker SF/PF Duke Fr. 6-9 / 195

Analysis: This leaves the Milwaukee Bucks with no choice but to take Jabari Parker, and they are absolutely fine with that. Though Parker is not as gifted athletically as Wiggins or some of the other top players, he makes up for it with his competitiveness and basketball IQ. Parker will be an immediate go-to scoring option that can be paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brandon Knight. He can score within an offense as well as in isolation sets, which will make him very dangerous and hopefully make his teammates better as well. The concerns on defense are understanding, but with the length and size Milwaukee brings, there will be time for that to develop.

  3. Philadelphia Joel Embiid C Kansas Fr. 7-0 / 205

Analysis: Philadelphia was hoping for a Wiggins/Parker type when they came into the lottery with the 2nd best chances at the top spot. They still thought they would get one of them when Embiid owned the top spot from a player standpoint. Now that Embiid is hurt, it looks like they will have their chance to take the guy they did not necessarily want originally, but could end up really needing. The 76ers have little to no post presence other than Nerlens Noel who has yet to play a game. The 76ers are still a few years from making any noise in the league, so that fact Embiid will most likely be out for the 2014-2015 season is not going to affect them much.

  4. Orlando Dante Exum PG/SG Australia Intl. 6-6 / 240

Analysis: The Magic use their first pick in the draft to pick easily the most talented guard, Dante Exum. Though he has not had the toughest competition in his career thus far, the Magic have two first round picks so we can swing for the fences on this one. The Magic’s current roster has a good number of young guards on the team, but none have the tools or can distribute like Exum can. His size will help make up for their last draft pick, Oladipo, whose size has been questioned as a shooting guard but can still bring a lot to the table.

  5. Utah Aaron Gordon PF Arizona Fr. 6-9 / 215

Analysis: Aaron Gordon is on the top of the Jazz’s big board assuming the first four are all gone. The Jazz were the worst team defensively last year and a lot of that has to do with the offensive-mindedness of the players they have previously drafted. Aaron Gordon is an athletic freak who plays terrific defense and will learn to bring a lot to the table offensively. He has a great workout ethic and competitive drive that help him have a nose for the ball. He does not shy away from contact with his physical play – all of this leads to him sneaking into the top 5.

  6. Boston Marcus Smart PG Oklahoma State So. 6-4 / 190

Analysis: The Celtics are one of the teams trying to make moves for Kevin Love or put themselves in better position to get another heralded free-agent, but if they hold onto this pick, drafting Marcus Smart could greatly improve their team. Imagine a back-court comprised of Rondo & Smart, each player playing ferocious perimeter defense and slashing through the opposing defenses. Smart’s athleticism and poise make him a top prospect and months ago he was seen as a sure-thing top 5 pick. But with Exum’s rise and Smart’s trouble in his last year as a Cowboy, he fell out of that group. Still, his potential is not something the Celtics will pass-up if they are still in this spot on draft night.

  7. LA Lakers Julius Randle PF Kentucky Fr. 6-9 / 190

Analysis: Randle is another very NBA-ready prospect who proved himself as the go-to player in big-time situations for Kentucky last year. When the Wildcats needed a bucket, he would post-up and call for the ball, then finish strong in the paint with a basket, foul drawn, or three-point play the old-fashioned way. He has great intangibles and is consistently fighting for second and third chances under the basket. The Lakers are also in the hunt for some big free agent names and having a guy ready to help right now like Randle will only increase their chances at landing someone.

  8. Sacramento Elfrid Payton PG Louisiana-Lafayette Jr. 6-3 / 240

Analysis: Not a lot of stories or rumors have made their way out of the Kings front office, but one thing we do know is that they are very interested in the Ragin’ Cajun Elfrid Payton. Payton put up fantastic numbers in mid-major ball and has all of the physical tools to be a success in the NBA. Though this pick is a reach, Payton has shown that he is the next top PG prospect available in the draft. The Kings have a number of scorers on their team, but Payton is a guy who can slash through a defense and distribute, as well as hold his own at the other end of the court. This is definitely the type of player they should be targeting, it is just not known whether the 8th pick in the draft is worth it.

  9. Charlotte Doug McDermott SF Creighton Sr. 6-8 / 205

Analysis: Charlotte is very hot on Doug McDermott. They have players like Zeller and Kidd-Gilchrist who are still growing and finding their game. McDermott is a guy who can come in and help stretch defenses to free up some space for others to work. He can play multiple positions on the floor and score from almost anywhere. They need an NBA contributor now who can put up better scoring chances than the Hornet’s swingmen are doing now.

  10. Philadelphia Nik Stauskas SG Michigan So. 6-6 / 230

Analysis: The 76ers will see Stauskas as a guy that can play alongside of Michael Carter Williams right away. Together they can be a very solid, well-sized backcourt whose offensive styles complement one-another. Stauskas is one of the deadliest three point shooters in this draft and showed that at Michigan over the last two years. This year, however, Stauskas showed he was an even more complete player who can create his own shot as well as use that attention to create shots for others. He will be a great pick for the 76ers here.

  11. Denver Dario Saric SF/PF Croatia Intl. 6-10 / 255

Analysis: Dario Saric just re-signed with his international team, but I still do not think that will keep him from sliding too much. He knows that he can make it in the NBA, and there are plenty of teams still interested. He has all of the skills to be a great stretch-4. The Nuggets need better shooters, and with McDermott and Stauskas getting taken just ahead of them, they will wait a year or two for Saric. The Nuggets have a solid young core of players that they can keep around while they find more prospects to bring in.

  12. Orlando Noah Vonleh PF Indiana Fr. 6-9 / 235

Analysis: The Magic can make a huge splash here with Vonleh falling all the way to 12 – a guy some teams might have taken at 4. Vonleh has all the tools to be a great player, but through his year at Indiana, most spectators saw him not be assertive enough. Especially alongside Yogi Ferrell, one would thing that Vonleh would have thrived more. When he did step up and show his skills, the results were almost always positive. His size, range, and mobility are all great attributes for this power forward.

  13. Minnesota Gary Harris SG Michigan State So. 6-4 / 185

Analysis: Minnesota grabs the other polished guard from the Big Ten in Gary Harris. Harris has an incredible knowledge of the game and can do it all on the court. He had to step up and play multiple positions and roles as a Spartan when teammates Appling and Dawson missed time. He can knock down threes or take the ball to the basket. He can distribute and play defense. There is nothing jaw-dropping about Harris, except that he brings some of everything to the game. The only knock that warrants any discussion is that he is not as tall as most scouts would like for a 2-guard, but hopefully the dynamic of his skill set makes up for this.

  14. Phoenix Rodney Hood SF Duke So. 6-7 / 170

Analysis: The Suns barely have a small forward on their roster, so with multiple first round picks, there’s no reason not to take the talented Rodney Hood. Hood played on two major teams in college basketball and did great at both of them. He shows great range on the offensive end of the floor and can score inside as well. He has a knack for getting the ball in the hoop. The Suns need another scorer, especially one that can shoot the ball well.

  15. Atlanta Kyle Anderson SF UCLA So. 6-9 / 225

Analysis: The Atlanta Hawks came on strong in the playoffs and were so close to defeating the no. 1 seed and Eastern conference runner-up Indiana Pacers. The Hawks are showing how talented of players their team has especially when they play together. This team has undergone a lot of changes in the past few years, so it was exciting to watch them mold. Adding a guy with the versatility of Kyle Anderson should help this process even more. Anderson is a point guard trapped in a forward’s body. He does a lot with his size and even more with the ball in his hands. He was often UCLA’s primary ball-handler which was a matchup nightmare. He can help shoulder the ball-handling load with Jeff Teague and distribute the ball to the talented scorers on the Hawks.

  16. Chicago Clint Capela PF/C Switzerland Intl. 6-9 / 170

Analysis: There are a lot of questions swirling around the Bulls future right now. When Rose comes back next year, who will the Bulls bring in to play beside him and help alleviate the scoring load? They already have a lot of solid pieces in place, but lack another star. By drafting Clint Capela, a talented big-man out of Switzerland, they keep plenty under the salary cap to make a splash in free agency while stashing a very solid international player for a few years. They also have a lot interest in moving up in the draft to get a bigger name that can help right away. This is evident in the players that they have worked out having a higher pick grade than 17. A lot could change for them between now and their pick on Thursday night.

  17. Boston James Young SG Kentucky Fr. 6-7 / 205

Analysis: Like Chicago, Boston is a team that is looking to make some moves to re-vamp their franchise back to what it was a few years back (as mentioned in pick 6). If they stay here at 18, James Young would be a great value pick for them. He has very good size for a 2/3 and would complement the Celtics back-court as well as their current swing man Jeff Green who has been forced into both a scoring and facilitating role with the Celtics’ injuries. Young was another huge part of Kentucky’s scoring as he was often the perimeter player that had to create when no one else was. Coupled with his measurables, this is would be a great pick for Boston.

  18. Phoenix Jusuf Nurkic C Bosnia & Herzegovina Intl. 6-11 / 190

Analysis: Despite all of their roster turnover in the last few years, the Suns were able to put together a very successful 2013-2014 campaign in most people’s eyes. That’s why after taking a small forward, NBA ready player with their first pick, they can draft a project like Nurkic who can stay out in Europe for a few years. The Suns could use one more big man presence inside, so when Nurkic is ready he will be welcomed in Phoenix.

  19. Chicago Adreian Payne PF Michigan State Sr. 6-10 / 200

Analysis: The Bulls situation was already discussed in their pick above, so now many think that they might go for a backup point guard as an insurance for Rose, but for this pick, the guy that they are most hot on is Adrien Payne. He would give the Bulls another inside-out option and bring great intensity (like most of their players already do). He will fit in nicely to their system and play within their offense.

  20. Toronto Tyler Ennis PG Syracuse Fr. 6-2 / 220

Analysis: Toronto has some scorers and finally solid big men inside, but they still lack a true point guard. Lowry may not stick around and even if he does, he is not the best distributor. Ennis benefitted from playing in a high intensity program like Syracuse where there have been several PG studs that have preceded him. He showed tremendous poise in lots of big matchups, hitting big shots and protecting the ball. Ennis will help them stay relevant in the Eastern conference even if they lose a guy like Lowry.

  21. Oklahoma City Zach LaVine PG/SG UCLA Fr. 6-5 / 240

Analysis: For third consecutive year, OKC can sit back and watch players come off the board ahead of them and find the best player available. Many would like to see OKC find another big man presence inside, but with Reggie Jackson most likely commanding a heavy contract, another combo guard could be the answer. Zach LaVine has tremendous tools and size. His shooting and ball skills are among the top in the draft, but he is still not ready to contribute immediately. That is the reason he slips outside of the top 20. He is a great value pick for OKC who still have more time to put together a championship run.

  22. Memphis PJ Hairston SG USA Jr. 6-5 / 200

Analysis: Memphis was near the bottom of the league in nearly every shooting category, injecting the team with a solid-sized SG will help greatly. They have a point guard, multiple solid big men, defensive specialists, but since losing Gay and Mayo, they have needed an additional scoring presence. Hairston has taken a tumultuous journey to get to the draft, but after dominating at UNC and a year of putting up good numbers in the NBADL, he’s ready to take on the NBA too.

  23. Utah KJ McDaniels SF Clemson Jr. 6-6 / 200

Analysis: Utah can add another great defensive piece with the addition of KJ McDaniels. Given his position and size, it is amazing he can defend players bigger than him and rebound as well as he does. Utah needs more defensive role players like him and with Gordon having such a high ceiling as their top pick, they can afford to take a safe role player pick like KJ McDaniels to help lock down the solid wing players of the West.

  24. Charlotte Jordan Clarkson PG/SG Missouri Jr. 6-5 / 235

Analysis: How great a story it would be for the Hornets to grab Shabazz Napier with this pick after he did the same thing Kemba Walker did 3 years before? But that’s not going to happen. Instead, the Hornets need to target another ball handler, except one with better size, who they can flex as a 1 and 2. Clarkson played in two college basketball systems and really started to excel at Missouri when he was given primary ball-handling responsibilities. He can slash through defenses and distribute, as well as shoot when he needs to. He will do nothing but improve Charlotte and can do so fairly quickly.

  25. Houston Jordan Adams SG UCLA So. 6-5 / 190

Analysis: Adams is a really intriguing prospect, because nothing about his athleticism jumps off the charts, yet he always finds ways to score and make defensive plays. His competitiveness and size are also great attributes. He improved greatly his sophomore year and with experience at Oak Hill Academy for high school, he has played against some of the best competition for years. As James Harden’s understudy, he will continue to progress his game in the NBA, adding another option to the Rockets offense and making pesky plays on defense.

  26. Miami Shabazz Napier PG Connecticut Sr. 6-0 / 230

Analysis: Shabazz does not have quite the same luxury as Kemba did when he carried his team to the national championship. This draft class is far more talented, but that might help Shabazz out in the long run. In this scenario, he falls to the Miami Heat who are in need of more consistent PG play to help shore up holes in their offense. Whether the Heat break up this year or next or never, with his talent, he can be someone who makes a difference.

  27. Phoenix TJ Warren SF NC State So. 6-8 / 197

Analysis: TJ Warren’s college career ended on a low-note with the loss to Saint Louis University in the first round after carrying his team into the NCAA tournament. But the reigning ACC player of the year will take the next step in the NBA and be able to help right away. With Phoenix’s third pick in the first round, they lock another consistent offensive threat with great scoring abilities. The obvious knock on Warren is his lack of athleticism and measurables, but that hasn’t stopped him especially after playing in a conference like the ACC. He can give the Suns an instant injection of talent and conceivably play multiple positions.

  28. LA Clippers Jarnell Stokes PF Tennessee Jr. 6-6 / 240

Analysis: The Clippers are lacking front court depth, but they can add to it and put themselves in position to make another postseason run by drafting a blue collar big man. Stokes banged with plenty of big guys in the SEC on his way to averaging a double-double. He plays unselfish basketball by taking good shots and doing a lot of things that do not show up on the stat sheet. He is one of the more NBA ready forwards and can help fill in for Griffin and Jordan in LA.

  29. Oklahoma City Mitch McGary C Michigan So. 6-10 / 180

Analysis: With Oklahoma City’s second pick of the draft, they can take Mitch McGary out of Michigan. McGary had off-court issues that sent him to the league earlier than he may have intended, but he has been destined for the first round of the NBA draft since he was a freshmen and had he not struggled through injury and off-court issues, he could have easily been a higher first round pick. He is another big man presence, one that OKC really needs when Perkins leaves and if Adams does not improve. He has an NBA ready body, he’ll just need to work on his offensive game to become a bigger asset to the team that drafts him.

  30. San Antonio Spencer Dinwiddie PG/SG Colorado Jr. 6-6 / 220

Analysis: San Antonio always seems to find talent and hit home runs with players in question. Dinwiddie could have well been a mid-first round to lottery pick had he not torn his ACL, instead because of his injury he almost fell out of the first round. He has great basketball skill and can rack numbers in all statistical categories. He is versatile with the positions he can play that make him a valuable tool. The Spurs are still winning but are another year older without replacements for Parker and Duncan. Dinwiddie can help them right now with the possible departure of Patty Mills and also in the future as he still has room to develop his game.

Potential Pups Targets in the 2014 NBA Draft

nba-draft

Let’s pretend for a second that the Timberwolves aren’t going to move up in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday and they will have the 13th selection in the first round.  There are a lot of moving pieces here, namely Kevin Love and his status on the team.  (Without hijacking this write-up, I don’t think Love will be on the roster by the time Friday rolls around.  In fact, at this point, I hope that he is not on the roster come Friday because I don’t want to hear about Love trade scenarios through February 2015.  Please spare us this scenario!)

Here are several prospects that have my attention and where I have netted out after browsing the web, looking through mock drafts, etc.  I’m not going to include any thoughts on the obvious big three at the top of the draft or those that continuously appeared in the top 8 or so (e.g. Exum, Smart, Randle, Vonleh, or Gordon).  Those players aren’t going to be around at #13 when Flip gets to make the selection for his coach and staff.  (See what I did there?) [Read more...]

A Kevin Love Roundtable – What Would You Trade For Love?

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Rather than creating our own trade scenarios and proposals for Kevin Love’s (potential) departure, we have decided to reach out to the writers and fans of other teams and asked them to give their best offers for the Timberwolves All-Star. For each offer, we have provided our own thoughts and likelihood of acceptance and have picked the best one at the very end. I want to thank all of the bloggers and fans that have contributed to this roundtable. Enjoy!

Los Angeles Lakers

Johnny Navarrette (@JohnnyNav), Laker Nation
 
Timberwolves receive: Greg Monroe (Sign & Trade)
Lakers receive: Kevin Love
Pistons receive: 7th pick in NBA Draft (LA would select a player for Detroit)
 
Trade Description

The bad news for the Lakers is that they have limited resources this off-season outside of the #7 pick in the NBA draft and ample cap space.  The only players currently under contract are Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre.  The purple and gold will continue to make a push to acquire Love, but they will need to get creative.  While three-team deals are hard to make, that is the best option for the Lakers to get a deal done.

For the T-Wolves, losing Love will hurt, as you don’t replace a player like him.  With Greg Monroe, you are bringing in a 23-year old power forward that averages 14 points and 9 rebounds in four seasons.

After years of mediocrity and lottery appearances, it is not unreasonable to think that Minnesota hopes to bring a player in which helps the team move forward, instead of draft picks that could take a few seasons to develop.  With players like Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, and Kevin Martin in place, becoming a playoff team is not too far off.  Adding Monroe to the mix might be the best return in terms of  player quality and impact.

Our Reaction

John: I don’t hate this deal as part of the backbone of something a bit bigger, i.e. draft picks. The Wolves can’t get “just” Monroe in a deal for Love, there has to be something included for a future pick or two.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Charles Chaney (@ThunderObsessed), Thunder Obsessed
 
Timberwolves Receive: Serge Ibaka
Thunder Receive: Kevin Love and Timberwolves’ 2014 first-round pick
 
Trade Description

Throughout Oklahoma City’s history, Sam Presti has rarely made a trade where he didn’t think of the long term effect of the Thunder. For Oklahoma City to acquire Love, it would have to be something where Oklahoma City probably robbed the Wolves. Of course we would see power forwards swap spots. However, Oklahoma City would force the Wolves to give up their first round pick among maybe Alexey Shved to sure up the bench. Is Flip Saunders is that stupid, then I believe Oklahoma City would be Lovin’ it. GET IT.

Our Reaction

Alex: Having to part with both Love and their 2014 first-round pick would be too steep a price for the Wolves to pay, even for a player of Ibaka’s caliber. It would be awfully tough to get the better end of a trade with Sam Presti, as his conservative approach will likely keep the core of the Thunder together until Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook get closer to the ends of their respective contracts. And while the Thunder’s sense of urgency to win a title now could spark some interest in trading for Love, he would not be an ideal system fit and would likely compromise the current roster balance that has been carefully structured to get OKC to where they stand right now, which is a perennial Western Conference Finals contender.

Houston Rockets

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles), Crabdribbles
 
Timberwolves Receive: Chandler Parsons, Robert Covington, Jeremy Lin and Terrence Jones
Rockets Receive: Kevin Love
 
Trade Description

Parting ways with Love would inevitably set the Minnesota Timberwolves on a rebuilding track, so acquiring young assets is key for them, and that’s exactly what they’d get in this trade.

Robert Covington went undrafted in 2013, but he was named the Rookie of the Year in the D-League for the 2013-2014 season, and he flaunted his potential to be a nice spark plug off the bench along the way. Terrence Jones developed into a versatile defender in his sophomore campaign and made strides as a scorer, too. He’s far from a finished product, but his length next to Gorgui Dieng could be devastating defensively. And while Jeremy Lin coming on board for $15 million hurts financially, it would only be for one year, which takes the sting out of it. On the bright side, he could serve as a nice backup to Rubio and would be able to play the two in small ball line-ups.

Finally, seeing as the Rockets have declined Chandler Parsons‘ fourth-year team option, making him a restricted free agent, this trade assumes that he signs a long-term contract, probably in the vicinity of $8-$11 million a year. The Timberwolves would only have around $40 million committed to their roster in 2015-2016, so they could afford Parsons’ new contract — not to mention Rubio’s, too — and still have room to bring in someone else.

Our Reaction

Alex: Chandler Parsons would become arguably the best small forward Minnesota has ever had in the history of their franchise, and Terrence Jones displayed last year that he could become a very good player in this league. It is Wolves fans’ worst nightmare to give Love to a Western Conference rival, and putting Love in the same frontcourt as Dwight Howard would create one of the best scoring and rebounding pairings in recent memory. Nonetheless, the Rockets have talented young players to offer Minnesota who are ready to play right now, which is attractive to a franchise that has a long history of missing on their draft picks. I would love to see how a young core of Rubio, Parsons, Jones, Pekovic, Dieng and Muhammad would fit together.

Phoenix Suns

Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet), Hoops Habit
 
Timberwolves Receive: Eric Bledsoe, reacquire own 2015 first-round pick 
Suns Receive: Kevin Love
 
Trade Description

The Suns are one of the few teams in the NBA that can actually make “The Godfather” offer the Wolves are looking for. Phoenix would love to keep their hands on Goran Dragic AND Eric Bledsoe, it doesn’t seem like they’d be able to get away with it for a player like Love. This deal gives Minnesota and up-and-coming star and their 2015 first-rounder back. Giving up the Dragon seems heartless after being Phoenix’s best player the past two seasons, and Suns fans could tell themselves Bledsoe’s knees are a risk. The only caveat is Bledsoe would have to agree to a sign-and-trade and give him something close to a max deal to make the salaries work. Putting together a Gerald Green-Channing Frye-Markieff Morris-two first rounders offer would keep the Dragic-Love-Bledsoe dream trio intact, but it probably wouldn’t be enough for the Wolves. But by giving up Bledsoe, the Suns would need to think about whether or not they’d have enough left that Love would want to re-sign in 2015 and therefore, whether it’d be better to have Love and lost than to never have had Love at all.

Our Reaction

Alex: This would be a very intriguing offer for the Wolves to mull as it offers a rising superstar in Bledsoe as well as a possible future rotation player in the 2015 first-round pick. Bledsoe proved for the Clippers that he can play just as well at shooting guard as he does running the offense, although he functions more comfortably as a point guard. With Rubio’s future in Minnesota slightly cloudy, Bledsoe would provide great insurance for the Timberwolves while making the Spaniard expendable. I ultimately see Rubio sticking around in Minnesota for a fair price, and having Bledsoe as a running mate in the backcourt would instantly improve Minnesota on both ends of the floor.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Wade Foley (@WFoleyNBA), More Than a Fan Cleveland
 
Timberwolves Receive: Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Grizzlies’ first-round pick, Heat first-round pick
Cavaliers Receive: Kevin Love
 
Trade Description

Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers seemed improbable until he told The Big Lead, a USA Today blog; on Wednesday that he doesn’t think the Cavs rumors are outlandish because they have a great young foundation.

I still think Love ending up in Cleveland is very unlikely seeing as he has stated that he’d like to play in a big market. Having a relationship with Kyrie Irving doesn’t hurt, however, and the two would make a nice scoring duo. If I were David Griffin, I wouldn’t consider relinquishing the number one overall pick for Love unless there was a guarantee he would re-sign with the Cavs, and it’s highly unlikely they would get this guarantee. My offer to the Timberwolves would be Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, The Memphis Grizzlies’ pick (1st round pick to Cleveland protected for selections 1-5 and 15-30 in 2015, 1-5 and 15-30 in 2016, 1-5 in 2017 or 1-5 in 2018 or unprotected in 2019) and the Miami Heat’s 2015 first (top 10 protected) OR replace Varejao with Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack. The Timberwolves could potentially be getting two role players that are still on their rookie contracts, a veteran guard or big off the bench, and two future firsts to rebuild with. Also, if Love truly decides he wants to play in Cleveland, it seems like he would push for a trade there while the Cavs refuse to budge on the number one pick. That way he could play alongside Irving and Joel Embiid/Andrew Wiggins. It’s doubtful this will be the Timberwolves best offer, but from the Cavs’ perspective, this should be as good as it gets without a guarantee.

Our Reaction

Alex: It is no secret that I am enamored at the prospect of swapping Love for the first overall pick and a few young assets, but it is unclear if the Cavs would be willing to offer as much. I am a firm believer that the 2014 NBA Draft will be the best since 2003 (which sported the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and others to the NBA) and I think that Wiggins, Parker and Embiid are all can’t-miss prospects. Minnesota must face the reality that their superstar will likely not be returning to the Twin Cities, but with this difficult predicament brings an opportunity to draft yet another once-in-a-generation type of talent.

It is no guarantee that the Cavs would be willing to offer the first pick, but they have done a good job of stock-piling first-rounders and would likely dangle multiple middle to late first-round picks before offering up the top selection. If I am Flip Saunders, I do not settle for anything but the first pick + Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. With LeBron’s future in Miami up in the air, the Cavs could make a power move by acquiring Love, thus offering LeBron a chance to reconcile with his former stomping grounds while forming a formidable big three consisting of himself, Irving, and Love (not to mention plenty of young talent surrounding them).

Milwaukee Bucks

Alex Skov (@AJSkov), Behind The Buck Pass
 
Timberwolves Receive: No. 2 pick in 2014 draft, Larry Sanders and O.J. Mayo
Bucks Receive: Kevin Love
 
Trade Description

With the No. 13 pick, the Wolves’ luck is to have done enough to get into the lottery, but just out of reach of any of the marquee names in the draft. There is no room for error if the franchise keeps Love, but that’s not the case if the Timberwolves deal him for a package built around the No. 2 overall pick, where a (theoretical) star will be ripe for the taking. This pick would give the front office breathing space to take the best player available or an immediate contributor/role player at no. 13.

Although O.J. Mayo is coming off an underwhelming season, he is still young (26) and averaged over 11 points per game in each of his six NBA seasons. Mayo could contend with Kevin Martin for the starting shooting guard spot, if the coaching staff so wishes, and allow the organization to figure out if Alexey Shved is a part of Minnesota’s basketball future. Larry Sanders would add an almost strictly defensive presence to the already center-heavy roster, though he could end up as one of the league’s premier shot-blockers if his focus returns to hoops. John Henson could be substituted for Sanders in this scenario, adding more of a scoring threat to the Wolves’ get, but Dieng is already the resident developing lanky big man in blue and white.

 Our Reaction

John: I’ve always been a fan of Mayo but the past two seasons have left a lot to be desired and I’m falling off the bandwagon.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Larry Sanders but he clearly has his backers.  Overall, this deal is pretty appealing with the #2 pick in this year’s draft plus those assets.

Flip Saunders and the Wolves have too many second round picks in the 2014 draft, I would start to throw one or two of those in the offer and see if we can get the Bucks to agree to a clause that would allow the teams to flip first round picks over the next few years (for the Wolves benefit of course).  With that clause thrown in there, I’m not sure you are going to find a better offer out there.

New York Knicks

Brandon Rushie (@AyoRush), The Knicks Wall
 
Timberwolves Receive: Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert
Knicks Receive: Kevin Love
 
Trade Description

Hate to be that guy, but I see no scenario in which Phil Jackson convinces Flip Saunders to ship his all-star forward to New York. The Knicks have nothing substantial to offer in return. Yes, Tyson Chandler is still a capable starter at the 5. Iman Shumpert, despite his offensive shortcomings, is an athletic wing defender who can hit the 3 at a decent clip off the catch. But the T-Wolves are already deep at both positions, and if the selling point is simply the cap relief of a few expiring contracts, how much good does that actually do them with their only marquee player on his way out? With the Suns, Bulls, and Lakers in the mix, there’s just too many better options out there for Minnesota.

Our Reaction

Alex: With so many other offers out there, I cannot see the Timberwolves settling on such a meager return. Shumpert, once a highly coveted swingman, has not progressed over the past few years and Chandler is no longer the player he once was.

 
 
In addition to the bloggers above, John wound up asking a few friends that are fans of a few teams on the east coast because, well you know, East Coast Bias.  Here are their offers:
 
David Corsaro (@DavidCorsaro) – Brooklyn Nets Fan
Timberwolves Receive: Brook Lopez
Nets Receive: Kevin Love
Reaction

John: I absolutely hate not getting future picks from the Nets, which actually could be worth something in the longer term, but not something I want to wait around for either with just Brook Lopez coming back.

Jeff Agress (@JeffAgress) – Philadelphia 76ers Fan
Timberwolves Receive: Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young, #10, #32, and #39 in 2014 draft
76ers Receive: Kevin Love
Reaction

John: Well, not receiving the #3 pick is a non-starter for me in discussions.  Aside from that, as mentioned earlier in the write-up, the Wolves already have too many second round picks, so there is no reason to accept those picks in this year’s draft.

MCW + #3 + salary filler might wind up being a decent deal for the Wolves two to three years from now.  While I don’t like the following at all, #3 + Thad Young + future picks and salary filler would be something for consideration … if, and only if, Flip knows Love is a goner.

Michael Pinto (@mpinto316) – Boston Celtics Fan
Timberwolves Receive: Kris Humphries, Joel Anthony, Phil Pressey, and #6 in 2014 draft
76ers Receive: Kevin Love and Ronny Turiaf
Reaction

He lost me when Jeff Green OR Kelly Olynyk were not included.  So I actually went to the trade machine and plugged in the following deal:

Timberwolves Receive: Kris Humphries, Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk, and #6 in 2014 draft + the right to flip first round picks in 2016-2018 (or similar)

Celtics Receive: Kevin Love, JJ Barea, and #44 & #53 picks from 2014 draft

You knew I would find a way to trade JJ Barea before the end of this write-up, didn’t you?  What better way to send him off with Kevin Love so they can be teammates forever?

 

Best Offers

John: Well, I like the trade that I drew up with the Celtics, but that isn’t going to happen.  From the offers received directly from others, I like the Bucks offer the most.  That said, I doubt the Bucks would take a gamble on renting Love for a season because if he isn’t staying in Minnesota, I can’t imagine he’ll want to stay in Milwaukee.  (I hate this entire situation.)

 Alex: I want to see the Timberwolves make a trade that nets them established young players instead of acquiring several first-round draft picks, as the franchise has previously had so much trouble turning first-round picks into successful NBA players. The trade with Houston centered around Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones strikes me as a handsome return as Parsons has established himself as one of the top young swingmen in the game and Jones proved last season that he has serious upside stretching the floor at both forward spots. However, if Cleveland is willing to offer up the first overall pick along with some complementary young talent (namely Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson) then I would be willing to take a chance on the number 1 pick which would end up being either Andrew Wiggins, Jabrari Parker or Joel Embiid. This would give the Timberwolves their best opportunity to grab a player who could potentially turn into a player of Love’s caliber or even greater.