Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
For the first time in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves landed the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft...and for another season, the Wolves also didn't move up in the Lottery ;)
With the number one overall pick the Wolves are officially on the clock until the end of June. With this first overall selection the Wolves are primed to land another franchise cornerstone to pair with Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio.
This was the first time since 2004 that the team with the worst record in the NBA landed the number one overall selection. Not since the Orlando Magic had the worst record in 2003-04, when they selected Dwight Howard, has this happened.
The team with the second-worst record, the New York Knicks, dropped two spots to the fourth overall selection. The Lakers jumped from fourth to second and the Philadelphia 76ers remained at the third overall pick. Here is the full Draft Lottery results...
1.) Minnesota Timberwolves
2.) Los Angeles Lakers
3.) Philadelphia 76ers
4.) New York Knicks
5.) Orlando Magic
6.) Sacramento Kings
7.) Denver Nuggets
8.) Detroit Pistons
9.) Charlotte Hornets
10.) Miami Heat
11.) Indiana Pacers
12.) Utah Jazz
13.) Phoenix Suns
14.) Oklahoma City Thunder
Though the 2015 draft may lack the star power of the 2014 draft class, there are certainly some intriguing prospects in this class. The consensus seems to be that the Wolves' selection will likely come down to Kentucky power forward Karl Anthony-Towns or Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
Towns is the more versatile big man and he fills a hole in Minnesota's starting lineup at power forward. He may not have the low-post prowess that Okafor possesses, however he covers ground on both ends of the floor very quickly. He's a great shot-blocker and rim protector, he can hit the mid-range jumper all the way out to three-point territory. He also shot over 81% from the free throw line during his lone season in Kentucky. He's also a great rebounder and can cover offensive players in pick-and-roll scenarios.
Okafor is a low-post stud that the Knicks would've loved to build around in their triangle offense. Okafor is represented by agent Bill Duffy, who was a former roommate of TWolves GM Flip Saunders. Okafor was the consensus number one overall pick for much of the college season until the much more versatile Towns came on strong toward the end of the season. Okafor is good passing out of double teams and has the potential to be a beast on the offensive glass. However his free-throw shooting and defense away from the basket need drastic work. With Nikola Pekovic already on the roster (assuming he can still play), the Wolves don't have a need for a low-post scorer who can't do much else.
If I'm Flip Saunders, I'm taking Karl Anthony-Towns number one overall next month. A starting lineup of Rubio/Martin or LaVine/Wiggins/Towns/Dieng or Pekovic could certainly make some noise after a rough 16-win 2014-15 season.
Barring any trades, the Minnesota Timberwolves will become the first team in NBA history to have three-straight number one overall picks on the roster--2013: Anthony Bennett, 2014: Andrew Wiggins, 2015: ?....
The 2015-16 Minnesota Timberwolves...
Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine, Chase Budinger
Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad
Karl Anthony-Towns, Kevin Garnett, Adriean Payne, Anthony Bennett
Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic
The Wolves are in dire need of a backup point guard. Zach LaVine's minutes should come mainly at the shooting guard, though he'll definitely play some point next season. Pairing LaVine with Rubio in the backcourt could make for a terrific tandem.
The biggest question will be how a lot of these guys develop this summer. Andrew Wiggins needs to bulk up. LaVine needs to find some consistency. Nikola Pekovic needs to get and STAY healthy. Gorgui Dieng needs to work on his one-on-one post defense.
The 2015-16 Wolves could certainly be a surprise playoff team in the West next season. However, it's more than likely that the Wolves will need at least one more year until they're ready to FINALLY return to the playoffs.
It will be an interesting summer. The Wolves could certainly move Kevin Martin who proved last year he still has plenty left in the tank and when healthy is one of the NBA's premier scorer. Given the chance will they try to move Martin? Pekovic? Budinger?
The draft order won't be set until late-May, when the Wolves will find out their fate. Will they have the No. 1 overall pick for the first time in history or will they move back in the draft...as they usually do? Regardless of where they land 1-4, there will be a difference-maker available and another building block for this franchise.
Nabbing a top-two pick and grabbing someone like Okafor or Anthony-Towns would certainly alter the trajectory of this franchise. Ultimately, the hope is that they land Anthony-Towns. His ability to stretch the floor with his jumper, his physicality, and his post defense are exactly what Minnesota needs to solidify the four-spot in their lineup. Rubio & Wiggins are the only players whose position is secure with this franchise in the starting lineup. Wiggins because he's Minnesota's franchise player and Rubio, not so much because of his play (his injuries limited him to just 22 games this season), but because of that new contract he signed this past summer.
The Wolves had Thaddeus Young, Kevin Garnett, Anthony Bennett and Adriean Payne at power forward this past season. The need in the draft will definitely be to solidify that position. Ideally they land a player like Anthony-Towns, however the development of Payne will certainly be a storyline to keep an eye on. Then, there's Anthony Bennett...what do you do with Anthony Bennett? Do you keep him this season and hope he figures out how to play in the NBA? Do you try and trade him? Considering he has little to no trade value, it is almost certain that he'll be a Wolf in 2015-16. Assuming Kevin Garnett returns (not a foregone conclusion), the Wolves will be overloaded at power forward (also considering they take a player like Anthony-Towns). There will undoubtedly be some activity from Minnesota in trades this summer as they look to balance their roster and reach the next level.
Further complicating matters will be if Minnesota falls to the 3rd or 4th overall pick and guys like Towns and Okafor are off the board. It then falls to a selection like D'Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, assuming the Wolves draft on talent and not need.
Build around Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio and hope that guys like Dieng, LaVine, and Muhammad continue to develop while Pekovic, Martin, and Rubio will hopefully stay healthy.
Regardless of what happens in the ensuing months, the future is bright in Minnesota...however we all know Minnesota fans are tired are hearing about how good the Wolves MIGHT be someday. After a decade-plus playoff drought, it's time to put up or shut up.
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