It’s taken a little while longer for me to compile than the options at No. 9 pick for the Wolves in this year’s draft, but it’s time to go over the plethora of options the Wolves have at No. 26 to add some depth and missing weaponry to their roster for next year and moving forward.
We know there are a lot of different ways this team can go thanks to the potential free agency of Andrei Kirilenko and the restricted free agency of Nikola Pekovic. And while this draft isn’t going to be able to outright replace what those two bring to the table on any given night, adding depth in case they can’t replace these guys right away, should that option come up, is important in keeping the core together and properly equipped to battle in the NBA. With the 26th pick in the draft, I love the number of options the Wolves have. They can go big with plenty of solid options here or they can go back to the wing and try to keep adding to depth on the perimeter.
No matter which way they go here (assuming they keep the pick), I think the decision will end up being a good one. Like we did with the post on No. 9 in the draft, let’s look at the options most likely available to the Wolves, who the experts are picking right now for No. 26, I’ll give my opinion on who I think they will take, and then we’ll have a worst-case and best-case scenario for Minnesota.
Let’s look at the options for No. 26 (I won’t go as in-depth as I did with No. 9 because there are just so many more options, but I’ll try to hit the basics and we can discuss the rest in the comments):
No. 26 Draft Pick Options for the Wolves
Rudy Gobert, 7’2″ 238 lbs, 7’8.5″ wingspan, 12′ max vertical leap, C, France
What I like about Rudy Gobert: He has the length of the tall man in the small car that Nelson laughs at on The Simpsons, if he’s able to harness even half of the potential of someone with a 7’8.5″ wingspan then HOLY BUCKETS he could be a game-changer defensively, he’s a really good option in the pick-and-roll which means Ricky Rubio can make him a good option on offense, he moves really well for his height and lankiness (feel like lankitude should be a word though), his standing reach is 9’7″ so it doesn’t take much to get him to be able to dunk when he catches near the rim, he’s a monster on the offensive boards, and he covers a ton of ground on the defensive end.
What I don’t like about Rudy Gobert: You have to wonder where the strength and leverage are going to be with his game against grown men in the NBA, he can’t score out of the post because of a lack of moves, footwork, and strength, his lack of athleticism means it could be easier for shorter guys to block his shot even though he’s crazy long, and we need to see that he’s consistently tough enough to put his nose in harm’s way when defending the rim.
Reggie Bullock, 6’7″ 200 lbs, 6’8.75″ wingspan, 11’6.5″ max vertical leap, SF, North Carolina
What I like about Reggie Bullock: He’s a 3-and-D type of guy, can flat-out stroke it from 3-point range, has deep range on his jumper too, showed gradual improvement in shot mechanics and consistency which shows he’s not a flash-in-the-pan shooter from outside, he’s a great spot-up shooter, comes off screens cleanly, quick release, I don’t know if you can tell but I’d like to take his jumper under the bleachers, he can defend 2s and 3s, and seems to actually like playing defense.
What I don’t like about Reggie Bullock: Don’t ask him to put the ball on the ground and create something off the dribble, don’t ask him to dribble into midrange jumpers, he’s not much of a passer, he doesn’t have great wingspan for his size, he’s not crazy athletic, and he needs to learn how to cut toward the basket more to truly fit into Rick Adelman’s system.
Lucas Nogueira, 7’0″ 220 lbs, 7’6″ wingspan, 11’10” max vertical leap, C, Brazil
What I like about Lucas Nogueira: He has great athleticism and length as a combination, 7’6″ wingspan isn’t something he wastes on either end of the floor, finishes well, extremely mobile for his size, he’s incredibly aggressive on both ends of the floor, protects the rim extremely well (the highlight at the 2:00 mark of the video below is a great example of this), great rebounder (especially on the offensive glass), he’s moving all the time, and he could be a guy we stash overseas for a little while so he can develop.
What I don’t like about Lucas Nogueira: Like Gobert, he doesn’t have a post game at all, he’s pretty raw offensively and doesn’t have much to offer aside from finishing lobs and drop-offs at the rim, I’m not sure he should ever dribble a basketball, he might not be more than Chris Johnson is now and we already have a Chris Johnson right now, and at times he might be too aggressive on defense in the sense that he doesn’t really know where to be so he’s kind of all over the place in a bad way.
Jeff Withey, 7’0.5″ 222 lbs, 7’2″ wingspan, 11’7.5′ max vertical leap, C, Kansas
What I like about Jeff Withey: Incredible rim protector who could come in right away and give the Wolves what Greg Stiemsma does at less than half the price, he’s a very measured shot-blocker meaning he’s not just wildly flailing at shot attempts, great post defender, incredible timing on defense, is good moving side-to-side in the lane, can finish, good at cutting without the ball once the defense sucks away from him, and he’s a big NBA body.
What I don’t like about Jeff Withey: He may not ever get better than he is right now but will only just become more of a veteran in terms of experience, I wouldn’t count on ever throwing the ball into the post for him to score, he doesn’t have a post game worthy of NBA usage, not sure he can distribute within the confines of Adelman’s offense, he’s big but he needs to be stronger, and he’s not a strong rebounder.
Tony Mitchell, 6’8.75″ 236 lbs, 7’2.5″ wingspan, 12’0.5″ max vertical leap, SF/PF, North Texas
What I like about Tony Mitchell: This guy is an insane athlete with a great wingspan to make up for any shortcomings he may have playing power forward in the NBA, he might be athletic enough to defend wing players in the NBA, he is a great finisher around the rim, he can jump out of the building (max vertical leap put him just over 12 feet and check out the dunk at 1:50 of the video below), great shot-blocker, he’s good on the offensive boards, and he’s a physical defensive player.
What I don’t like about Tony Mitchell: People have questioned his work ethic and ability to stay motivated a lot which should be a gigantic red flag, he might not be capable of being a small forward on both ends of the court which could create a huge clog, he turns the ball over a ton, probably doesn’t make enough good decisions with the ball on offense for Adelman’s liking, and I’m not convinced he’ll ever be a shooter. Also, it worries me that about two minutes into his video, they show dunk contest highlights. This shouldn’t be a thing for college scouting.
Ricky Ledo, 6’6″ 197 lbs, 6’7.25″ wingspan, 11’4″ max vertical leap, PG/SG/SF(?), Providence
What I like about Ricky Ledo: This guy is a lot of fun on offense, incredible handle for a guy his size, has the potential to be a great scorer in one-on-one situations, can play both point guard and shooting guard, has great range on his jumper, makes incredible plays with the ball, always a threat to break his man down and get to the hoop, and good at shooting the ball off the dribble. Rick Adelman could really get through to him and turn him into a star.
What I don’t like about Ricky Ledo: This guy could end up being extremely frustrating, he was never eligible so we didn’t see him against college talent, his shot selection is J.R. Smith-ish, he might not be a team player at the NBA level, we have no idea if he can be a defensive player in the NBA or if he’ll put effort toward it, and it could be my obsession with gunners like Jamal Crawford that makes me even begin to think “What if he gets it at the NBA level?” Rick Adelman could end up murdering him.
(WARNING: High school mixtape so it’s not going to show flaws)
Tim Hardaway, Jr., 6’6.25″ 199 lbs, 6’7″ wingspan, 11’6.5″ max vertical leap, SG, Michigan
What I like about Tim Hardaway, Jr.: He can catch the ball and attack the basket from the perimeter, strong shooting guard with NBA size at the position (no more Luke Ridnour out there at the 2), he’s really good in transition which is big if this team wants to get out and run, he’s really good at attacking the rim on the break, very nice athleticism, he’s turning into a good catch-and-shoot option, his shot looks great and could start yielding results (sort of how Bradley Beal’s college numbers never matched the way people talked about his jumper), and he’s a good shooter off the dribble.
What I don’t like about Tim Hardaway, Jr.: What if his percentages don’t catch up to his shooting form? He can take some really bad jumpers and shots, he’s not great getting to the basket if it’s not a straight line drive, don’t think he can run a pick-and-roll against a good NBA defense, he’s not much of a passer despite his dad’s legacy, and I’m not sure he’s ever going to be a decent defender at the NBA level.
Allen Crabbe, 6’6.25″ 197 lbs, 6’11.25″ wingspan, 11’7.5″ max vertical leap, SG/SF, California
What I like about Allen Crabbe: His length for an NBA shooting guard (6’11.25″ wingspan) means he could probably defend anybody on the wing if he gets stronger, this guy could be a terror for the opposing team in help defense by blocking shots and playing the passing lanes, he’s a really good scoring option, he makes open jumpers, his length makes it hard to bother his shot, had two great years shooting the ball from 3-point range, and his shooting motion doesn’t change when he’s shooting it from deep which shows consistency.
What I don’t like about Allen Crabbe: I don’t think he’s much of a passer, he might have trouble dribbling to the basket against one defender especially if there are help defenders digging down to swipe at the ball, he needs to get a lot strong to finish at the rim in the NBA, I wouldn’t trust him running a pick-and-roll, he doesn’t get to the free throw line a lot, he also might not end up being a great defender, he’ll get punished by bigger wing players if he doesn’t add strength, and he needs to show more fundamentals when defending on the ball.
Experts’ pick for the Wolves at No. 26
Chad Ford’s Mock 5.0 on ESPN.com (Updated 6.18): Rudy Gobert
Draft Express Mock Draft (Updated 6.19): Lucas Nogueira
Chris Mannix Mock 3.0 on SI.com (Updated 6.19): Jeff Withey
Scott Howard-Cooper’s Mock on NBA.com (6.20): Tony Mitchell
Who will the Wolves pick?
If Gobert or Nogueira fall to 26, I think they’ll take one of those guys. They can stash the player now and bring them back to add to a playoff team in a couple of seasons when Nikola Pekovic’s contract is winding down. However, I don’t believe either of those guys will be available at No. 26 on Thursday night. Jeff Withey seems like a really good idea in terms of adding an interior defender, but I think the Wolves will end up grabbing more depth on the wing. If Bullock manages to fall (some mocks have him gone in the first 20 picks and some have him falling to the end of the first round or early second round), he’d be the pick at 26. Otherwise, I’d expect Allen Crabbe to be the selection if the international bigs are gone and Bullock is off the board.
Worst-case for the Wolves is either Gobert being available at 26 or the team panicking and selecting Tony Mitchell. Gobert is a project that I’m not convinced isn’t just a slightly better version of Alexis Ajinca (who sucked) and I don’t think he’ll ever actually end up being a starting caliber center in the NBA. If the team takes Tony Mitchell, it will make very little sense in terms of the roster structure. With Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, and Dante Cunningham all looking for minutes at the 4, adding Mitchell and then seeing he can’t be a small forward on defense in the NBA could be a horrendous logjam.
Best-case scenario is definitely Bullock falling to 26 and taking him. The guy is one of the top shooters in the draft and I think he’d fit perfectly into the system for Adelman. If the Wolves get the two best-case scenarios from the draft posts we’ve done here, that means adding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock to the roster, giving the team some incredible depth at the wing positions that brings outside shooting to stretch the floor. If they can keep Andrei Kirilenko at SF and re-sign Chase Budinger at a reasonable price, this would give the Wolves lots of time to develop their young guys (Alexey Shved) and give the team the shooters necessary to spread the floor for Ricky, Love, and Pek to operate.
I’m sure I missed someone here so drop more options in the comments and we’ll discuss them.