Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
Today at 2:30pmCT the Minnesota Timberwolves will introduce first-round draft picks Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng to the organization, the local media and #WolvesNation.
I'm not the greatest with numbers, but by my calculations--based on comments on draft stories and the Twitter buzz, I'd say #WolvesNation is split 70-30. 70% are puzzled, disgruntled and just plain angry that the Wolves selected rumored 'headcase' Shabazz Muhammad and 23-year-old big man Gorgui Dieng. The other 30% understand how these pieces fit and are excited to see what they can bring to the table.
I'm most definitely part of the 30%. Sure, I would've liked to have landed one of the Top 2 shooting guards: Victor Oladipo and (especially) Ben McLemore who went #2 & #7. Much like Flip Saunders, the Wolves front office and almost every mock draft out there, I was fairly confident that barring a last minute trade the Wolves would land Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at #9. Instead the Pistons swoop in and scoop him up with the #8 pick (despite not even having him in for a workout and already having Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey at the two-guard).
So, with Oladipo, McLemore and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope off the board it was looking like we'd continue to have an undersized backcourt and go with the Draft's best shooter C.J. McCollum. If it was anybody else we knew it'd be a trade. It was someone else (Trey Burke) and there was a trade (with Utah).
That's how the Wolves landed picks 14 & 21 and took Muhammad & Dieng.
Why I'm excited...
The Wolves land Muhammad. A versatile scorer who will play both the 2 and the 3. With Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic (hopefully) on the roster and being the main contributors to the scoring column, Shabazz will be a third-to-fourth option at best. He isn't going to be asked to carry this team. His a complementary piece. For those concerns about his attitude? We know that Rick Adelman, Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio simply won't put up with it. Michael Beasley had attitude and didn't try on defense, Rick Adelman simply refused to play him. That should be the first thing the Wolves tell him: If you don't commit to playing defense and lose the attitude, you simply won't play, period. Bazzy (yes...I like that...) also needs to work on his three-point shot (which Timberwolf doesn't?) as well as his ball handling. Muhammad has a very high work ethic (according to Flip) and is a self-proclaimed 'gym rat'. He has all the physical tools to be a good player in this League--on both ends of the floor (that 6'11" wingspan on D will come in handy) now it's up to him to put that work ethic into overdrive and prove why just nine short months ago he was in the conversation for the #1 pick.
The Wolves nab Dieng. Sure, he's labeled as 'raw' and he is older than most of these rookies (at 23), however he gives the Wolves the shot blocker and rim protector they desperately need. He combines that with physicality (something Stiemsma lacks) and should be a good player to go 10-15 minutes off the bench. It also gives the Wolves the opportunity to drop Greg Stiemsma (can you hear the Hallelujah choir?) and his $2.5+ million salary for 2013-14 (that's non-guaranteed--meaning they can simply waive him/decline his option). Dieng was a coveted big man who would have gone somewhere in the 20's regardless. I guarantee that he would've been off the board by #26 as the Brooklyn Nets would've nabbed him at #22 (instead settling on Mason Plumlee).
The Wolves didn't want to go into 2013-14 with three guaranteed rookie contracts and so it made sense to deal the #26 pick and Flip was able to do so while also shedding Malcolm Lee's $900,000 guaranteed salary. Lee and the 26th were flipped to Golden State for a future second-round pick and cash. The Warriors then traded the #26 to the Thunder for the #29 and cash. Then the Warriors dealt the #29 and Malcolm Lee to Phoenix for the #30. Basically writing all that to let you know that yet another former Wolves player will head to Phoenix (joining Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson--if he's re-signed).
With the two picks in the second round the Wolves went with 6'5" point guard Lorenzo Brown (52nd) and forward Bojan Dubljevic (59th). Bojan is definitely a draft-and-stash player. Darren Wolfson (who talked with Bojan's agent) said Bojan will stay overseas for at least two more years and then they'll re-evaluate at that point. Lorenzo Brown is considered to be a first-round talent who had a down junior season at N.C. State after a breakout sophomore year. He's a point guard with two-guard size. He'll get a chance with the Wolves in the Summer League, but it remains to be seen where he'll play in 2013-14 (I HIGHLY doubt it's in Minnesota with the Timberwolves).
Overall if I had to give the Wolves a 'grade' for the 2013 NBA Draft. It'd be a B-. There's plenty to like about the first-round picks and there's plenty to be concerned about as well. My biggest fear is the C.J. McCollum becoming and instant star in Portland, Shabazz becoming Wes Johnson 2.0 and Dieng being more Hasheem Thabeet than Serge Ibaka.
With the NBA Draft come and gone the Wolves will now focus their attention on Free Agency (beginning Monday, July 1st) and with that, re-signing Nikola Peković and Chase Budinger. The Wolves also find out tomorrow (June 29) whether Andrei Kirilenko will opt-in or opt-out of his salary of $10+ million for 2013-14. Plenty more TWolves news to come, stay tuned!
A TWolves fan, bringing you the daily updates.