1.) Draft a shooter like C.J. McCollum, Shabazz Muhammad or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the 9th pick and then select a center like Lucas Nogueira, Mouhammado Jaiteh, Jeff Withey, Steven Adams or Rudy Gobert (if he falls that far). By picking a shooting guard the Wolves hope to be getting someone who could contribute immediately and by grabbing a center in the late first round there'll be looking for a long-term project (someone they can bring along slowly these next 2-3 years) and battle Greg Stiemsma for those backup center minutes.
2.) Draft an athletic shot-blocking center like Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng or Rudy Gobert with the ninth pick and then select a shooter like Tim Hardaway Jr., Jamaal Franklin, Allen Crabbe or Archie Goodwin with the twenty-sixth pick.
3.) Create a package centered around the #9 pick and one or two players currently on the roster to move into the Top 5. Every article I've read about this suggests only one person the Wolves would be looking at with that Top 5 pick: Victor Oladipo. It won't be enticing enough to offer up #9 and #26 to move up, but instead #9 and perhaps Derrick Williams and/or Luke Ridnour/J.J. Barea to a team like the Phoenix Suns (#5) or Charlotte Bobcats (#4).
4.) Trade #9 and/or #26 for a proven veteran. For instance, the Orlando Magic have the #2 overall pick in the draft. With many projecting Nerlens Noel going #1 to the Cavaliers, a lot of mocks have the Magic taking Ben McLemore #2. With the youth movement in full effect in Orlando (Tobias Harris, Moe Harkless & Nikola Vucevic) they'd likely peg McLemore as their starting two-guard, leaving Arron Afflalo to come off the bench (if not right away...in the very near future). Afflalo would obviously be available, with the Magic looking to get younger perhaps a trade of Ridnour & #9 for Afflalo would do it (or maybe you'd have to dangle Derrick Williams instead). There are plenty of scenarios like these that could make trading the pick for a proven veteran a better idea (much like the #18 to Houston last season for Chase Budinger).
I wouldn't mind seeing one or two rookies on the squad next season, but I'm fully expecting at least one trade to go down. After all the Wolves own four total selections in next month's draft and there's zero chance we'll have four rookies playing in Minnesota next year.
With all that in mind let's take a look at part two of our ongoing Mock Drafts 'Around the Net'. Here's part one if you missed it and if you're new to the site, you can find a full description of what this post is all about there as well!
Alex Len is projected to go somewhere between 3-9, with most scouts believing he'll be gone by the time the Wolves pick. If he is available he'd be the perfect fit as a long-term prospect that will take a couple years to develop and provide valuable time behind Pekovic at center (allowing the Wolves to waive/trade Stiemsma). Len is the kind of shot-blocking rim protector the Wolves sorely need.
C.J. McCollum seems to be the popular choice at #9 for most mock drafts. McCollum measures at just 6'3" so he's not a natural shooting guard, though he is looked at as potentially the best shooter in the draft. Some scouts/analysts draw comparisons to unanimous Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. C.J. also broke his foot back in early January and hasn't played basketball since then, that's obviously a concern as is his ability to stay healthy (the Wolves certainly don't need injury prone players). Teamed up with Ricky Rubio, they'd be a lethal offensive backcourt, however because of McCollum's size there would be serious concerns on the defensive end. Sure, Luke Ridnour has started alongside Rubio in the majority of games the last two seasons, but Flip has made it known he wants a true shooting guard (size-wise).
Tony Mitchell is a power forward that stands 6'9" and his main skills are his rebounding and shot blocking--that's thanks in large part to his 7'3" wingspan! This past season at North Texas was certainly a down year for Mitchell with plenty of setbacks in nearly every facet of his game. With a less than stellar offensive game and no go-to move in the paint, Mitchell has a lot of work to do if he wants to have a long future in the NBA.
Glen Rice Jr. dominated the D-League for the Rio Grande Vipers after he was dismissed from Georgia Tech a season ago (which still gives him draft eligibility). As a D-League starter he averaged 17.6ppg on 42% 3PT, 8rpg & 2.6apg. Rice led the Vipers to the D-League Championship, scoring 25ppg in the finals. He is a bit of a tweener, but has plenty of athleticism, he can shoot the ball and is a skilled rebounder. There's a good chance he'll be a contributor right away in the NBA.
Dario Saric is known as a player with an off-the-charts basketball IQ who will play plenty of point forward in the NBA. Some scouts are saying that he could be a star in the NBA someday. Dario is likely a player that will be in the NBA next season, but it may be a few years before he's a big contributor for a team.
Giannis Adetokundo is an extremely raw prospect currently playing in Greece--against competition that scouts equate to Division III schools. Despite all of that, he possess' a lot of intangibles, skills and potential that have a number of scouts, VERY excited. He's a project player and whichever team drafts him will likely stash him overseas for a year or two and bring him along slowly.
Mouhammado Jaiteh is the kind of long term center project that every draft has. Jaiteh doesn't posses a great offensive post repertoire, but he has a decent hook shot and can step out to 15-feet and knock down shots. His biggest assets remain his defensive, shot-blocking presence and his rebounding on both ends.
Sergey Karasev is an excellent ball-handler with a high basketball IQ and a good shooting stroke. At 6'7" he plays some point forward and is a capable passer. This past season he averaged 16.1ppg on 49% 3PT in Eurocup. It's uncertain if he'll come straight to the NBA next season or if he's a pick and stash type of player. Being Russian and having played with Shved & Kirilenko for the Russian National Team, he'd obviously fit right in, in Minnesota.
C.J. Leslie is listed as a 6'9" forward, though he lacks the ability as a low-post scorer, however playing from the high post and taking his man off the dribble is where he excels on offense and made a killing at the collegiate level. On defense his strength becomes a major disadvantage and can classify him as a tweener, which is always concerning. Leslie does move his feet well defensively on the perimeter, which a team may look to turn him into more of a small forward at the NBA level.
Reggie Bullock has good size for an NBA player and is a good shooter for his size. He won't be an All-Star in the NBA, but he could develop into a solid role player off the bench for a number of teams.
That's all for now, we'll have part three in another week or two so stay tuned for that, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!