More on the Wolves' draft
A few notes here annotating Zach’s excellent summary of the Wolves’ first round.
It’s important to remember just how much uncertainty plays into these decisions. Especially when you’re drafting in the middle of the first round, and especially in a draft as zany as this one, GM’s are constantly recalibrating their matrices of risk and reward. There’s no occult knowledge here, no hidden absolutes. The draft game is a set of shifting uncertainties. In all likelihood, someone taken in the middle of the first round will become a Kawhi Leonard or a Larry Sanders or a Ty Lawson. And when they do we’ll all heap scorn on those pathetic GM’s who missed out. But: anyone here know who that guy is yet? Neither do I.
So, our Wolves. They were dealt a piece of rotten, Wolvian misfortune when Detroit snatched their guy with the eighth pick. And so Flip and crew were faced with a dilemma: roll with one of the two best players available–Trey Burke and CJ McCollum–neither of whom fit well with what they want to do, choose a guy much higher than he ought to be chosen (this would be the Kahn/McHale move), or trade down. They traded down, and ended up getting a pretty good deal in the bargain. If, to paraphrase Zach, McCollum ends up being a more efficient, better-defending version of Randy Foye, this might be a huge mistake. If he ends up being Randy Foye? well played Flip. Either of those things are possible: Flip bet on the latter.
On to Shabazz Muhammad and on to more uncertainty. By the 14th spot in the first round, you are almost always making a bet on an incomplete player. You are betting that either a) his weaknesses can be coached up and/or b) he can find a role on your team that capitalizes on his strengths and minimizes those weaknesses. Muhammad is a terrific spot-up shooter and cutter without the ball; he has great strength, incredibly long arms and a raging competitive fire. These are all things the Wolves need. He never passes, has terrible shot selection and is a raw defender. That, obviously, sucks. Could he become a more belligerent, less coachable version of Derrick Williams? Definitely. Could he learn to pick his spots on offense, getting his looks off of spot-ups and cuts and offensive rebounds without dominating the ball? Could he learn to use his physical and emotional gifts to become a solid perimeter defender? Yes to all of these. Muhammad was the most talented player remaining, by far. Flip is wagering that Adelman and Ricky and AK can bring out the best in him.
Gorgui Dieng was another case of the Wolves making a wager. In this case, Dieng was the player they wanted, for all of the reasons Zach and others have already enumerated (and rightly so, in my belief). The various mock drafts had Dieng being selected anywhere from 20th to 28th. So it’s possible that he could have been there at 26–or its possible that he could have been gone long before then. Flip made the safe bet and got the guy he wanted.
Any or all of these wagers could turn out to be losers for the Wolves. And if they do, we’ll all have a fun, sad time making bilious jokes. (I’ll be right there with you.) But the truth is, we don’t know yet. Let’s all watch and see what happens.