2013 NBA Draft, 2013 Offseason

Wolves select Shabazz Muhammad at 14, Gorgui Dieng at 21; I'm happy


I like it.

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m not embarrassed to admit it. I’m not sucking up to the organization. I genuinely like what happened for the Wolves in the 2013 NBA Draft. It wasn’t perfect and I get why it’s confusing to some. But I feel like I see a vision here and I think the two main pieces the Wolves added in this draft are going to be major contributors in a positive way. The draft was turned on its head from the get-go when the Cavs selected Anthony Bennett with the first pick.

Nobody saw that coming. Nobody saw Nerlens Noel falling to sixth. Nobody saw Jrue Holiday being traded for Noel just minutes later. Not many thought Ben McLemore might fall to seventh and it seemed weird that the Bobcats would take Cody Zeller without trading down from No. 4. But all of that happened and when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was taken right before the Wolves were up at No. 9, it seemed like a lock that C.J. McCollum was a lock to run the backcourt with Ricky Rubio. And then it happened. The Wolves selected Trey Burke and the internet went into David Kahn joke convulsions.

Right away, you have to figure this pick was about getting value. It wasn’t about getting value with Burke joining the team, although I think he’s a lock to be a Rookie of the Year favorite with the Utah Jazz; it was about moving Burke and seeing what the Wolves would get in return. With the 14th pick, they took Shabazz Muhammad. With the 21st pick, they took Gorgui Dieng. They sold off the 26th pick for cash and a future second rounder from the Golden State Warriors.

Personally, I’m smiling right now and feeling really good about the Wolves’ draft. I’m looking at basketball scribes talking about how well the Wolves did. And yet, Wolves fans seem pissed. I guess I understand why they’re mad. We all were fed a pretty steady diet of expectations for the draft and when it didn’t happen and the surprises came, it startled us. Some people don’t like to be startled, especially when the end result is the unlikely. It was supposed to be unlikely the Wolves would end up with Shabazz Muhammad.

Is it the right pick? I have no idea. I’m not going to pretend the Wolves did the right thing here by taking Muhammad. He might not be very good or he might be quite good. I will tell you this: I like the idea of him on the team. Let me explain why.

Shabazz Muhammad excels at scoring the basketball. He doesn’t excel at scoring the basketball in a variety of ways and he’s not going to trick you into thinking you’re watching the second coming of James Harden’s beard. But he can put the ball in the basket in a few ways that actually benefit the Wolves quite nicely.

— Muhammad generated 26.2% of his offense at UCLA in transition. Think about that. This guy likes to get out and run. Rick Adelman likes his team to push the tempo. Ricky Rubio likes to push the tempo and find guys moving toward the basket. Kevin Love likes to grab rebounds and throw outlets. Andrei Kirilenko (maybe he’ll still be around) is a wizard at turning the ball the other way in the blink of an eye.

Back in January, I wrote this piece on Corey Brewer and the Art of the Leakout on CBSSports.com. Don’t worry about the familiar name and the disappointment that name brings back to you from a failed draft experiment of the past. The leakout is a weapon someone like Shabazz Muhammad can use without putting his teammates at risk. It’s not that I want Muhammad to be Brewer; it’s that I think he can use this to the Wolves’ advantage.

— He can catch and shoot the ball. Granted, injuries took away the Wolves’ best shooters on the floor last season but the team made just 36.9% of spot-up jumpers. Bazzy Muhammad made 40% of his catch-and-shoot jumpers in his one year at UCLA. He moves really well without the ball (nearly 1.4 points per possession on cuts, which is insane) and comes off screens looking to shoot right away. He’s not hesitant or shy. He’s ready to shoot the ball and his form looks really good to me. There are a couple of things with balance off the dribble I’d like to see the Wolves fix, but spotting up his form looks great.

— He gets to the free throw line. He got there 5.6 times in 30.8 minutes per game at UCLA. He shot just 71.1% from there after shooting 85.6% from the line his senior year of high school. I’m not quite sure what to make of his percentage, to be honest with you. I don’t know if I believe he’s a 71% shooter or an 85% shooter. If he’s somewhere in the middle, that’s good enough. But he’s a physical player that can bang against small players and either get a trip to the line or get a good shot opportunity.

There is so much of Shabazz Muhammad that fits into what the Wolves want to do in Rick Adelman’s system. Spot-up shooting. Moving without the ball. Running it down the opponents’ throats. And he hits the glass as well as any small forward in his draft class. He also seems to have an attitude, which can be both good and bad. But I love the way he approaches end of games. It can be selfish, but it’s assassinous.

Granted, there are bad things with Bazzy. He doesn’t have a good right hand and that means he’ll have issues going one-on-one against players. Luckily for the Wolves, he’s almost never going to be the best player in the lineup, so he shouldn’t be asked to go isolation against guys a whole lot. He also isn’t a creator for others. This isn’t a problem if he’s being used as a safety valve on offense. With Love and Pekovic in the lineup and a shooter with Muhammad and Rubio, there shouldn’t be a whole lot of need for Bazzy to pass for assists. However, he can’t hold the ball and kill the flow of the offense.

Defensively, I love his potential. He’s not there yet but I think he could be a real pain in the ass on defense for his opponents. He’s got good size at 6’6″ and 220 lbs, accentuated by his 6’11” wingspan. He doesn’t generate a lot of steals but he could definitely generate a lot of deflections to slow down opponents. There are some fundamental things to iron out defensively, like getting him consistently low in a defensive stance, but the effort and execution could be there fairly quickly. I suspect this because Rick Adelman won’t give a damn about Muhammad being a first round pick if he doesn’t play defense. We saw that with Derrick Williams.

And that’s where I feel the best about this Muhammad situation. He wants to prove that he’s the best player in the draft class. Is that crazy? Probably. But he was one of the more hyped high school players in recent memory and we saw that reputation deflate quickly in his one year at UCLA. If he’s the guy with attitude people expect him to be and he can harness that for good, he could really just want to make everyone regret passing on him in this draft. Granted, a lot of it is his own fault, but he doesn’t need to care about that. He just has to correct it.

He already started talking about being in the gym all the time and working hard to prove he’s the best. Whether that’s lip service or he really means it, I trust the coaching staff to figure it out with him. Again, I can’t guarantee you that he’s going to be a great selection for the Wolves, but it’s one of the rare times I’m looking at his flaws and looking at his positives and I’m not seeing something that can’t be harnessed properly.

Plus, he crept in from the back to join David Stern so he could shake the commissioner’s hand because it’s the last one for Stern. I respect that in some odd way.

As for Gorgui Dieng, I love this pick. Some people are saying the Wolves could’ve grabbed McCollum at 9 and waited for Dieng at 26, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have been available at 26. And with how badly this team needs a mobile big man at times to protect the rim, rebound, and play great pick-and-roll defense, Dieng is a must-have for the Wolves. I did a breakdown of big men on CBSSports.com, trying to figure out how they projected for today’s style of big man (mobile, defensive, etc.). In it, I looked at the 10 best categories that define today’s big man, scored each center or power forward on a scale of 1-10, and got a rating out of 100 points. It’s not scientific, but I like the system.

Dieng rated as the fourth best big man in the draft, behind Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, and Anthony Bennett. Here was my write-up on Dieng from that section:

Overview: With Gorgui Deng, what you draft might be all you get in his NBA career. Experience will give him a better sense of timing throughout his career and that will allow him to adapt, but there’s no real reason to believe he’ll actually become a threat in the post or as a scorer. But even if he can’t improve, you’re grabbing a plus defender that can really change the ways offenses attack your team. He doesn’t really have many weaknesses defensively that can’t be ironed out with a good system, and he’s great at defensively attacking you from everywhere on the floor.

What can he possibly give you on offense? There are two big positives you like with Deng’s game on offense. First, he’s a really good offensive rebounder. Second, he’s going to pass well out of the high post when he has the vision to see the floor. Elsewhere, you probably are wasting possessions by giving him the ball in the post, and quick double teams could bother him on the lower block. He can do some pick-and-roll stuff for you, but that’s the only systematic way you get points out of him.

Defense makes him a great idea: He should be one of those rookies that earn playing time right away because coaches can trust him to play proper defense. He’s great at attacking the pick-and-roll and pushing it away from the hoop. He’s great at timing weak side rotations to block shots, and he can do so without losing rebounding position. Pick-and-roll defense might end up being his calling card, kind of like it is with Joakim Noah.

Dieng was a highly coveted big man, but with how chaotic this draft was, it makes sense that he fell to 21. What this probably means for the Wolves is two-fold:

1) I think you can play Nikola Pekovic fewer minutes, which should lower his risk for those nagging injuries that pull him out of a couple games here and there throughout the season. If you can limit Pek to around 28-30 minutes per game then you can save him for the playoffs (YES, the playoffs) and have him be fresh to bully the opposition in the postseason.

2) The Wolves get better while probably saving money. With the downgrade from the 9th selection to the 14th selection, the Wolves saved about $500,000. By selling off the 26th pick, the Wolves save another $925,000. In that deal, we saw Malcolm Lee go to the Warriors and then the Suns (Goodbye, Malcolm). That saves another $900,000. With Dieng as the backup center, the Wolves probably don’t need to keep Greg Stiemsma’s contract for next year. Dieng will make $1.1 million next year and Stiemer was slated for $2.6 million. That’s a savings of $1.5 million.

If my math is correct here (and it’s 3am so it might not be), the Wolves saved roughly $3.8 million. That could be the difference between retaining Chase Budinger and not being able to keep him.

The Wolves may have found a way to get deeper, address two needs, and save money all in one draft. I don’t think they had an amazing draft, but I’d give them a solid B or maybe even a B+ for the effort. I would’ve liked Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or C.J. McCollum, but one of those guys was gone and the other just wasn’t right in Flip Saunders’ eyes. We’ll see what the future holds.

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0 thoughts on “Wolves select Shabazz Muhammad at 14, Gorgui Dieng at 21; I'm happy

  1. I agree with the fact that Shabazz could be a good asset on the team, but can he play the 2? And isn’t Saunders targeting OJ Mayo who is basically the same size as CJ McCollum and the reason he didn’t draft McCollum was size, seems like a contradiction to me. I understand moving back, but CJ seems like such a talent and a natural scorer to pass up.

  2. Zach, I usually love reading you and love the EoB stuff, but I hate the first half of this article. That’s a lot of mental gymnastics just to pull yourself around to “I respect that in some odd way.” Things like “Muhammad generated 26.2% of his offense at UCLA in transition” really isn’t a good thing when you consider that he scored an abysmal 0.98 points per-possession on those attempts. Not having a right hand is kind of a big deal when you’re selling yourself as an NBA 2 guard. How can you take this kid’s proclaimed new found gymrattiness seriously when he hasn’t put in the work to develop his off hand before now!? HOW MANY SUCCESSFUL NBA TWO GUARDS CAN’T DRIBBLE WITH BOTH HANDS?!?!! Why do so many analysts like this move? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

    Dieng I like.

  3. If youre right about saving money to sign Buddinger, then I am cool with that because you wont get anyone with that pick that is as good as Bud. So the starters could be Rubio, Budinger, AK47, Love, and Pek? Second team looking like Barea, Shved, Muhammed, Williams, Dieng.

  4. For the first time In a long time I’m happy with a Wolves draft. I think Shabazz fits a role we need and the jump shooting of Dieng will be a big improvement over the offensive production that Stiemsma gives. Hoping this combined with all the other talent amassed there and Love and Rubio healthy can lead to a nice playoff birth come next year

  5. Zach,

    You seem to be slotting Muhammad in as a SF, but I think Flip probably sees him more as a big SG. Same with Budinger. Can either of them play the position or do we still not have a SG on this team?

  6. I was not bothered by either pick, my problem came with selling pick 26. One of the worst 3 point shooting teams in history had a chance to get one of the best shooters in the draft, instead they sold the pick for money. I am sick of watching this team sell potential assets for a billionaire’s petty cash.

  7. Ryan –

    Shabazz should be a SF for us and likely will be. As for our SGs, Flip tweeted last night to look for outside shooters through free agency and trade. I still think we look to deal Ridnour or Barea.

    Personally I love this draft. I was really big on Shabazz and still think he has a lot to prove. I’m sure he is embarrassed about the live footage of him not getting the last second shot then being upset, but it can also be good to have that killer instinct. At this point, what is better?

    CJ McCullom and Allen Crabbe
    Shabazz, Dieng, and cash to resign Budinger?

    I’ll take the latter.

  8. A lot of Wolves fans I’ve talked to seem to think Shabazz is an attitude problem guy. Where did this perception come from? He seems like a driven, hardworking guy. I worry about his ability to move the ball, especially since Adelman’s system really rewards clever passing wings like AK, and I worry about his defense, but I agree 100% about his amazing cutting ability. From what I saw of him last year, it wasn’t even his timing so much on cuts so much as the fact that he’s one of those lucky guys who has the ability to cut HARD, to the point where guys can read the cut early and still get beat badly. With Rubio, Love, and maybe AK throwing passes, he’ll score a lot on cuts, particularly if he can refine his timing.

    As for Dieng, one important thing he brings offensively that Zach didn’t bring up is his ability to hit the elbow jumper. By the end of the year, he was just absolutely LETHAL from 15-17 feet around the top of the key. He’ll never be a deep pick-and-pop guy, but he can absolutely be a weapon in those Duncan-style elbow pick and pops. And just having a serious rim protector to trot out on D to mess up a team’s driving game will be a big, big help for us.

  9. Gorgui DIeng is a great pick up, not just for the reasons mentioned above, also his ability to pop out for the 15-18 jumper. he can keep up witha point guard on a switch on the pick and roll and pushes offenses out using it. he can guard the rim especially from the off side. Plus his knock of being to old to improve is bull, he will develop nicely if given 15 minutes to play, which it seems like he should get.

  10. I’m with Jordan. My big issue was selling the 26th pick when there were shooters still available in the draft. Having three rookies on the roster may not be ideal, but who are the Wolves going to find at SG in free agency or via trade that wouldn’t cost any more than the salary slot for the 26th pick and will he be better than Crabbe?

  11. I’m just a guy who likes Basketball and roots for the Wolves what do I know? IMO Flip blew it. I knew before the draft we needed to move up at least to the 8, mentioned it several times. But again what do I know.

    a 23 year old rookie center you say? only played BB for 6 years you say? hmmm, what do I know?

    sell the 26th pick pass on Allen Crabbe and Jamaal Franklin when the team needs a SG?

    Yeah, I don’t know nuthin’

  12. I just read Chad Ford’s take on our draft. Although I am sure he probably doesn’t know much either, I agree with him.

  13. Easy there farnorth, it is possible to make yout case without throwing a fit. The article broke down why HE liked the draft and gave reasons for it, at no point did he single you out and make claims that you don’t know what you are talking about.

  14. Ryan, in Rick Adelman’s offense, the concept of SF and SG isn’t as rigid as fans seem to think of the positions. I think he’ll play both. He’ll probably play more SF the first year or two because of defensive match-ups, but I’d imagine he’s flowing in and out of both wing positions throughout the next few years.

  15. Jordan, it could have been a cash grab for selling the 26th pick but I really don’t think it was. I think it’s about flexibility within the cap. If the Wolves can keep Chase Budinger now with the money they saved from the draft, Chase is much better than anybody they could have gotten at 26. MUCH beter.

    Now if they aren’t able to keep Chase or use the money toward getting a shooter, I’ll be more annoyed at not keeping the 26th pick. If they have a healthy Chase and a healthy Love, you’re adding two guys that will have a lot of 3s and be in the 40% accuracy range. That should boost the 3-point shooting on the team quite a bit.

  16. Lowell, Shabazz probably does have an attitude problem. I don’t know that it has to be a bad thing though. If a pissed off mentality motivates him to work, that’s how some guys channel that energy. If it goes the other way and mentally checks him out, then it’s a problem. People seem hung up on the fact that his parents lied about his age. If he can play ball for this team, I don’t care if he’s a 20-year old rookie or a 19-year old rookie.

  17. The key here saving the money. It’s not for Chase, after Pope went at 8.. OJ Mayo became our number one focus. Both draft picks will be joining Williams on 2nd line this year.

  18. Farnorth,

    You don’t know anything about how this draft is going to shake out. You just don’t know if the picks were good or bad. I hate to break to you but you don’t.But hey, I don’t either. None of us do. There are plenty of positives with each guy and there are negatives. I think the positives fit into what this team is designed to do.

    A 23-year old center that can play right away because of his defensive abilities is something the Wolves need. He plays the pick-and-roll beautifully, can pass out of the high post, can shoot from 15 feet, and he’s a good rebounder. He’s never going to be a good post scorer, but the Wolves probably won’t ask him to be.

    You wanted the Wolves to move up to get a certain guy. Except moving up required trading Derrick Williams, who you said shouldn’t be traded. You can’t have it both ways.

    You mentioned that Flip blew it and that you agree with Chad Ford. Ford said the Wolves walked away with talent but it doesn’t move the needle much. That’s not exactly the same thing as what you’re saying. Just because it doesn’t move the needle with fans, doesn’t mean it’s a bad draft. It just means the fans disagreed. The Wolves aren’t building a team to agree with fans, they’re building a team to make the playoffs and attempt to contend.

  19. Zach, I hope you are right, I do like what Budinger provided in the first couple of weeks before the injury. I am not sure what it will take to bring him back, but he is now a MUST sign.

    I now hope that we can turn Baraea or Ridnour into Morrow or Korver.

  20. Zach, I totally agree with your assessment that the Shabazz “bad attitude” line stems primarily from the age thing. I remember following his recruitment process last year, and all anybody could say about him was that he was one of the most driven guys people had ever seen. He’s clearly a shoot-first, shoot-second kind of guy, but he won’t be “the guy” on the Wolves, so his perceived selfishness isn’t a huge issue to me. He’s clearly an intelligent kid, and intelligent players, even if they are gunners, generally mesh well with willing passers, and goodness knows we have those.

    The big question now is what our perimeter is going to look like to start the season. Can we get away with playing Rubio, Budinger, and AK out there for extended minutes? Or do we need to make a move for a more traditional 2 guard (primarily for help on the defensive end)?

  21. YOLO, it’s not mental gymnastics. I liked these things about him before the selection. The more film I watch on him, the more I think he’s going to be good. This is something I’ve said for a couple weeks now. We really need to divorce ourselves from this idea of shooting guard and small forward. He’s a wing. He’s a wing. He’s a wing. He’s a wing. He’s a wing.

    He can dribble with his right, he just never attacks that way. I have a feeling this coaching staff will work on that with him. It’s just a hunch, but I feel like they brought him in so he can 1) improve and 2) help the team. The problem with drafts is everybody wants to see the final product on the floor the instant the first selection is made. When we have the roster that is going into next season then I’ll judge more of what was and wasn’t a good move.

    Until then, I’m willing to watch the Etch-a-Sketch work before I see what the hell they’re drawing.

  22. As I said before I hope I’m wrong about what we got. We’ll see, but it sure looks like we walked away with SF who is a volume shooter that can’t pass or go right, and is limited defensively, and a C that is going to be a project at best.

    You make good points and I am all in. I hope your positives outweigh my negativity and these guys are better in the roles they’ll be asked to play vs the abilities they lack. So in fairness I will take a wait and see approach.

  23. Far, I’m fully open to the idea of being wrong. If these guys were asked to be the top 2 and 3 players on this team, it would be a disaster. But as far as we know, Love and Pek and Rubio will be here next year. If so, we’re asking these guys to be good role players. That’s a big plus for us.

  24. Shabazz is a hell of a spot up shooter, Rubio is a hell of a passer getting the ball to guys when they’re open. It might work 🙂

  25. Fair enough and thanks for this thoughtful piece. One note of caution, though, from the great David St. Hubbins: it’s such a fine line between assassinous and assassinine.

  26. I am really optimistic about this draft. It was weird seeing a GM w/ a plan. Kahn would have taken Burke and kept him or something. I really like the way they adjusted. There’s no way the Kings were trading the 7th when Mclemore was there, and it wasn’t wrong of them to assume KCP would fall to 9th. When he didn’t they made something else happen. Albeit at the expense of me raging around my living room until Chad Ford saved the day w/ his tweet about the trade. The 26th pick confused me at first but I didn’t realize they were saving that much money. Good draft, I’m really excited about this team right now, probably too much so.

  27. Zach- Who might we be targeting in free agency or through trades that would bring us some additional shooting, or more of a traditional 2? I know, I’m focused on the shooting guard, but just humor me, please! If you have any idea, that is. Thanks.

  28. farnorth, Dieng isn’t a project at all. He will play immediately and give the Wolves exactly what they wanted him for, rim protection, P&R defense and a good passing from the high post, as well as a couple of elbow jumpers a game. If they are depending on his to start this year, then they are asking too much. He will be an upgrade (at half the cost) over the Steamer (whom I really like, btw). The 2nd first round pick was a really, really good one.

  29. What does the presence of Shabazz mean for AK’s decision? Any chance Andrei will be less keen on returning knowing that the first pick by the new front office was a guy who a) plays his same position (okay, he’s a Wing, but still) and b) will inherently be a bigger part of the team’s long-term plans than AK is?

  30. Well, we turned the 9 and 26 picks into the 14, 21, and 26 picks and ended up with two guys who projected, on average, to go 15th and 29th. We don’t know anything about how the players will play. What we do know is that we didn’t exactly maximize our return and, if you logic surrounding cost savings and Buddinger is correct, we will now have traded two first round picks for his rather dubious services. I suppose I should just be glad we didn’t give Golden State a future first round pick just for doing us the honor of taking our first round pick this year.

  31. I was not a huge fan of the AK signing last year not the player but the contract. It was obvious he would not play the whole season (when was the last time he did?). He does a lot of the little things you love, but he also misses a lot of time. 10 million is a lot to pay for a part time player. and it is going to hurt us a lot this year. I wish he would opt out and resign for 3 years 18 million I think that’s a better deal all around.

    But in the glass half full category adding another SF should help limit his minutes maybe he stays healthy and earns the 10 mil..

  32. Chase budginer is not in the 40% range from 3, but in the 35% range. I like Chase at 600k or 2 mil even, but not sold on him at 3.5 mil. Chase is a 20 minute per game player which is all he has showed in the NBA up to this point and there really is no evidence to the contrary.

    The Wolves would have better served trading up to get one of the top three shooting guards or otto portor for that matter. The wolves drafted a tweener 2/3 in Shabbaz and are stuck with a 32 year old small forward with one year left on his contract and no real 2 on the entire team. They had better be players in free agency/trades or forget about it.

  33. Determan, not sure how you don’t call a guy who has played a total of 6 years organized BB a project. You cannot look at what a guy does in college and say “oh yeah he will be able to do those things day one in the NBA” that’s some serious rose colored glasses to say the least. Also It’s not just me saying the dude is a project. People paid to actually scout and give their opinion are calling him that as well.

  34. I am definitely not calling him a project. If you want him to be your starting center and an offensive focal point, then you’re right, he is absolutely a project. But if you want him to play 15-20 minutes a game as a back up 4/5 for his defense and rebounding, he can do that already. The two things that translate really, really well (according to the scouts you reference) from college to the pros is defense and rebounding. Well, that’s what we drafted him for. He’s not a project on the boards or defensively, so again, great pick. You can try, farnorth, but you won’t sway me:) Really, it’s just my opinion and I’m not saying it’s spot on, but I really liked the pick and feel he can contribute right away considering he’s only a rotational player and not expected to start.

  35. If selling the 26th pick was such a brilliant move, why not sell the 9th pick too? Wouldn’t that be doubly brilliant? Maybe they should just never draft again…and be Einsteinian!

  36. It was weird to see guys like David Aldridge and Steve Kerr (also Seth Greenberg on ESPN) love what they did while the stats guys hated it.

    Things I can understand:
    – If the future #2 from Golden State doesn’t have the type of protection that makes it worthless, that trade is at least what the market dictated (see the Gobert deal to Utah).
    – If Dieng can play right away, he’s a great pick, and the team will have him for cheap without living through 1-2 yrs of development, like the Bulls got with Taj Gibson.
    – We shouldn’t have expected a trade up or that either pick will play more than 15 mpg.

    What I’m struggling to justify:
    – The idea that this is a good fit for Muhammad. RA plays 2nd unit guys together a lot, so that means Muhammad’s more likely to share the court with a fellow rookie, either DC or Williams, and the hero ball deathmatch backcourt of JJ and Shved.

    I’m going to forget about this when the season starts because I don’t enjoy the games otherwise, but I just want to like this team and be proud of the way they run things. This draft makes me nervous.

  37. If the Wolves needs going into the draft were SG and C, after the run on SG’s before the 9th pick, why not look at the C position? Wasn’t there a highly thought of C (Adams) who went off the board within a couple picks? Crabbe and Franklin were still there for them at 26 and they wouldn’t have had to “save” money on a 3rd 1st round pick by simply not trading for it in the first place.

  38. Tim Duncan started playing bball in 9th grade. I guess he was a project too because he didn’t start when he was two years old. You don’t define someone as a “project” solely based on years of experience. Some people have natural talent. For what we need him to do, Dieng is a solid pick. He has succeeded at the highest levels of the NCAA. Pitino took him as a “project”, but I think that project phase is long gone.

  39. For seemingly the Wolves history… at least since Tony Campbell or Latrell Spreewell, the Wolves lacked a difference maker at shooting guard. Finally a draft comes along full of solid shooting guards with the Wolves owning four picks, and how many did they draft? Zero! They passed on McCollum at 9. Passed on Karasev at 14. Passed on Hardaway and Bullock (whom I love) at 21. And, sold pick 26 when Goodwin, Nedovic, Crabbe, and Franklin were available. Maybe none of them will be difference makers, but I’d be much happier to walk away from this draft with more on the wing than just Shabby.

  40. Love the Dieng pick. Drafting Shabazz is a bit of a head-scratcher but Zach makes some good points and I’m hopeful. Totally agree with the astute commenters about how, with kids being drafted so young these days, nobody knows how any of these picks will turn out and about needing to trust Flip (the only GM we got).

    Also that we couldn’t have expected that whoever we got at #9, including KCP and CJ, would be a rookie starter on a playoff team. Shabazz won’t be either. My big question is: we still need a full-sized SG to start games and play a lot of minutes, play good perimeter D, and knock down 3s. So who will that SG be?

  41. Also, for people complaining about selling off the 26th pick…First rounders get guaranteed contracts. It would be a bad idea the Wolves to have 3 rookies on the roster locked in for the next 2 or 3 years. For a team hoping to push in the playoffs, that will never happen. With the cap and tougher tax rules, every $1 million counts these days.

  42. This has to be one of the saddest Shabazz Muhammad apologist columns I’ve ever read. It just feels like you’ve built up this straw man of mal-informed Wolves fans that dislike the Muhammad/Dieng picks because they have been conditioned to dislike Wolves picks. THAT is INSANE. The reason people dislike these picks is that they are bad picks. To be fair, the Dieng pick is forgivable because he did perform at a high level on a great team in a difficult conference. Oftentimes advanced analytics can miss the full picture of how useful players of this sort are. So I give that pick a B (though Gobert would’ve been a slam dunk pick). However, the Muhammad pick is HORRIBLE. It makes very little if not NO sense. Not only did they pick him too early, but the red flags are too many. All draft picks are gonna have “red flags” but most are smokescreen things like “questionable motor” and “mediocre size for position”. However, Muhammad has SUBSTANTIVE red flags. His numbers in college were outright BAD. In the case of Beasley (his comparison), at least Beasley had an epic college career. Beasley actually projected to be GREAT but fumbled and struggled to find his way in the league due to poor work ethic and being coached out of position.Muhammad not only has numbers that put him out of the top five SF in the draft but he has substantive character flaws that have been highlighted (poor team player, arrogant,brooding, a liar, etc.) He also doesn’t come into the league with any real defensive skills or a sufficiently proven jumpshot.

    Don’t get me wrong he does have some perks, specifically the fact that he was a top prospect out of high school, but players that are highly scouted out of 12th grade that fail at the next level (be it college or abroad) tend to be mediocre players (see: Jennings/Barnes).

    The Wolves could’ve drafted down and gotten some guys that could bolster their mediocre shooting/defense at the SG and SF position by getting Reggie Bullock and Jamaal Franklin.

    1. A couple of things here. The first is that, Shabazz may indeed turn out to be a HORRIBLE pick. That is possible and if it happens we will all have the pleasure of ripping Flip a new one. But I would not call his college stats “outright bad”. He was a good three-point shooter and got to the line 7.3 times and grabbed 3.3 offensive boards per 40 minutes, both of which are more than good. As for Beasley, he was the second pick in the draft, not the 14th, so obviously his projected stats were better. I hope nobody is expecting from Muhammad the kind of offensive production that we all expected from Beaz.

      I was disappointed by this pick too, and the way the draft shook out in general: I think we were all hoping for an amazing three-point shooter at that spot. But I don’t think that makes this a catastrophe.

  43. Neil, Steven Adams sucks. We got a much better big man in Dieng who can play right away and will be better in five years anyway.

  44. Timmy, I appreciate the accusation of it being an apologist column because I disagree with your opinion on the issue. That seems reasonable for me pointing out that he has some good things that fit with what the team is supposed to do while recognizing he has flaws. Definitely an apologist piece.

  45. I like the trades for Afflolo or Courtney Lee. We need that perimeter D in the worst way. If AK opts out, we could have enough $$ for Mayo or Korver, too. With Celts rebuilding, Lee should be easily had. He carries a three year burden at a rather inflated price, but is just what we need. I think we could get him for Luke or even Barea, but might need a third team cuz I don’t know that Celts want those guys.

  46. This was a historically shallow draft and there were no sure things, which is why the consensus #1 overall fell to 6th and got traded. Cody Zeller went about 10 spots higher than expected (somewhere, Rafael Araujo is applauding) for no apparent reason except that MJ isn’t taking any chances of not being terrible and risking pole position in the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes. In comparison getting Muhammad at #14 is a massive coup.

    Maybe Dieng and Muhammad will be worthless and be playing for the Suns before their rookie contracts are up like every other recent Wolves washout, but that would be perfectly normal and expected. No team turns mid-first round picks into roster gold on a regular basis, particularly this team. Kahn had something like 13 first and high second round picks in the last four years and turned it into 1 starter.

    I personally like the Dieng and Muhammad picks. Muhammad is a talent and in a draft like this, all you can do is grab a talented guy and hope he decides to show up. People say he looks like a poor man’s Beasley and I agree, but as mediocre has Beasley has been, someone with his career production would have been a very solid get in the middle of the first round, just not great as the second overall pick. And even if Dieng is a total stiff (which I don’t think he will be) 9 out 10 times you draft a big man this low he turns out to be a total stiff. If he develops into a decent big man at the back of the rotation that would be more than what you normally get from this kind of pick in this kind of draft.

    If the Wolves had some fantastic option at #9 that would be one thing, but they didn’t. Did we ever really think that the Wolves would get a real difference maker at #9 in this soft draft? No, right? So why are people now upset the Wolves got guys who likely will not be difference makers at #14 and #21, instead of just seeing how it plays out? I don’t get it. Kahn would have certainly drafted another point guard with #9 and traded #26 for two low second round picks and cash. So at least we don’t have to deal with his bungling anymore.

  47. I change my previous comment to: Shabazz is a poor man’s Michael Beasley. Ouch, I wonder how Rick Ademan feels about that.
    Up until now I would say that Flip Saunder’s is overly aggressive and incompetent. I hope he doesn’t drive out RA the way he drove out AK. Man, I’m gonna miss AK.

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