The Utah Jazz made the playoffs.
This means the Minnesota Timberwolves will have a first round pick in this year’s allegedly loaded NBA draft. Acquiring Utah’s pick closes the books on the Al Jefferson trade from before last season. We basically ended up receiving movable parts, draft picks we could sell to pay off Kurt Rambis’ deal and this pick. And this pick, which will fall between 15th and 20th, gives the Timberwolves something to look forward to on draft night.
Don’t get me wrong; I’d much rather this team was relatively healthy and in the playoffs. Even if this meant getting steamrolled in the first round by the Spurs or Thunder, I’d gladly accept that first round experience for such a young squad over trying to figure out what the middle of the first round on draft night will look like. But that ship sailed a long time ago, when Ricky Rubio’s knee gave out and the Wolves stopped being a competitive team. There was nothing after that night that looked much like what we were seeing with Ricky out there. There was the win in Phoenix and Kevin Love’s 50-point effort in OKC. Other than that, this team became what we saw over the last two years. They were lacking everywhere that counted, especially the win column.
Two things were accomplished this April: 1) the Wolves finally stopped losing all April games with their win over Detroit and 2) the Utah Jazz locked up a playoff berth and give the Wolves some action in the first round.
Sure, David Kahn still seems to be a controlling partner in the structuring of this roster. Maybe Rick Adelman and his crew have more of a say in personnel decisions than we know. Maybe Kahn is still the go-to guy in the front office before Glen Taylor signs off on a deal. I am not overly confident that Kahn will make the right decision here. What I am confident in is that even if they screw this pick up, I find it hard to believe the result will be a player worse than what we saw from the Wolves’ wing players this season.
Now we’ll start looking at draft prospects like Quincy Miller (I’ve been praying for him for months), Terrence Ross (a dead-eye shooter), Royce White (pretty impressive overall talent who is apparently afraid of flying), Jeff Taylor (good defender who just found his stroke this season), Dion Waiters (scoring… SO MUCH SCORING), or even Austin Rivers (that one guy’s kid who most people already don’t like). These seem like the most likely wing players available in our pick range. We could also package the pick and someone like Derrick Williams for a veteran player. We could try to snag a disgruntled wing veteran (hopefully not Kevin Martin) and bring in some much-needed experience and leadership on this squad.
Sure, the Wolves traded a mid-1st round pick two drafts ago and all they got was this lousy Martell Webster haircut, but I’d still take that over trying to talk myself into Luke Babbitt for five years.
The key point is the Wolves have options. It’s not as good as the playoffs would have been, but we now don’t have to hear four hours of Tanguy jokes before the Wolves pick at 57. We get our David Kahn jokes much sooner!
I’m not happy with the way the season ended for the Wolves, but I’m happy we now have something to look forward to before free agency begins. Thanks, Utah. Now please lose your last game. We’ve got a draft pick to prepare for.