Wolves stand pat during NBA Draft Lottery, will select fifth overall

Ping Pong Ball Gun Main

The 2016 NBA Draft Lottery wasn’t chock full of surprises… only chalk.

Long story short – nobody moved up, everyone is keeping their picks (for now, anyway), and the Philadelphia 76ers’ league-worst 10-72 record resulted in them receiving the top overall selection for the first time since 1996 (when they took Allen Iverson). A few quick reactions, all in bullet form:

  • The Wolves own the fifth pick. Let’s all take a moment to pour one out to the memory of hoping to employ a fourth consecutive top overall pick. That would’ve been fun/unfair/hilarious/sure to elicit cries of a conspiracy theory.
  • I’m not a connoisseur of the college game, and I haven’t yet performed my annual pre-Draft “Fall Down a Draft Express Wormhole” sabbatical, so I don’t really know who the Wolves “should” take, much less who I’d “like” them to take. I know I see Jamal Murray, Henry Ellenson, Buddy Hield, and something called Dragan Bender often floated/debated in the Wolves Twittersphere. I’m sure we’ll have lots more to say about it as the Draft approaches.
  • I would characterize the Wolves’ biggest need as “outside shooting,” so my initial preference is for them to select the best shooter available, position be damned. But I reserve the right to change my mind after I do my prospect crash course.
  • The other thing we’ll be watching carefully, besides the dozens and dozens of DraftExpress videos available on their esteemed website, is whether or not the Wolves trade the pick, rendering all that study and worry useless. Is Tom Thibodeau in win-now mode? Does he like anyone in the Draft enough to take on another raw youngster, or will Thibs and Layden flip the 5th with another asset (or two) for a veteran?
  • If so, who would that be? People seem to hate my 5th pick, Zach LaVine and Gorgui Dieng idea for Jimmy Butler, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder if that’s the sort of thing Thibs will aim for.
  • It was cool and kind of heart-wrenching to see Karl-Anthony Towns carrying Flip’s wedding ring for good luck at the lottery. 
  • Am I the only person who wants the Sixers to take Ben Simmons, just so they can have four frontcourt players, none of whom can shoot, as the prize(s) for all their tanking? I’m a mean person, but this is what I want.
  • One final thing… Someone buy us the cool-looking ping-pong gun in the photo at the top of the page. We need it… for, uh, writer reasons.
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30 Responsesso far.

  1. pyrrol says:

    I don’t know why, but I’m for just taking a useful pick. This team isn’t going to be going to the finals next year, but even with no roster changes will be markedly better. Why not get a useful player and once we ‘build him up’ we can decide to keep him or use him as trade fodder down the road for a big fish? I guess I just dislike the idea of trading high picks before you even see what the player picked at that position can do unless it is a really good, proven player that fits your team that you are getting.

    Fifth is good. You can do something with that. I’m not real up on the draft yet either, but I feel it has some pretty good players up top and sprinkled around. Simmons is my top pick still. I’m not that hot in Ingram yet. I sense a bit of hesitancy with Buddy Heild, but any team could take a chance on a guy like that. In this draft, maybe he’s a 3-5th type pick, but he’s a guy to take a chance on, who could make folks sorry. I have Dragan Bender curiosity, but who doesn’t? In theory he might be a good pick to try to play next to Towns at PF.

    Whenever I hear someone talk about the Wolves’ needs, the first word is always ‘shooting’. I can’t argue that as a general truth. The problem is, what would drafting a shooter do for us? Would it make that big a difference? We have Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins and Towns penciled in as starters. Tyus looks like he could really be a back-up PG for the long haul, we have Shabazz floating around as well as Bjelly and Dieng. No matter who we pick, those guys are getting some minutes if they are on the roster next year. So rather than think mainly of shooting as our big need, perhaps that burden needs to be on the guys we already have improving their shooting. This won’t be as hard as it seems because the coaching staff really made good long range shooting hard for this team. Perhaps it would be best to look for the player who fits our roster holes and or has the most talent. If we pick a guy like Heild, we can watch him and LaVine duke it out for a starting role, and the loser would hopefully be a great bench scorer. But short of a pretty dynamic pick, we actually have some things ‘set’ and just nabbing a shooter doesn’t really mean that pick will see any playing time (depending on position and what else we do with the roster in the off season).

    5th pick , LaVine and Deing for Butler? I hope I’m not taking a joke seriously. That’s way too much to give up for Butler. Heck, I wouldn’t give up just LaVine for Butler. I like where LaVine is going… I want to keep developing him.

  2. sportsbygreg says:

    Dragan Bender for sure if available. If not, Henry Ellenson.

    • mikeskunes says:

      Bender… maybe. Ellenson? Heck no. I got to see him play a few times in person and was left thoroughly unimpressed each time.

      • FNorth says:

        I just want to know how a dude who went .288 from the college 3pt line is a “stretch 4” I say pass on Ellenson. big time. He makes Adreian Payne look graceful.

        I see William “why didn’t we draft RJ Hunter” Bohl now thinks it’s a “great idea” to trade away Zach LaVine AND Shabazz AND the #5 pick for a dude that adds what? Nothing from the 3, would be in Wiggins way half the time he touches the ball.

        If Thibodeau can’t coach this team he should not have taken the job. No reason to trade away that much young talent unless you can’t do the job you were hired to do.

        • gjk says:

          Boy, you’re really going in on RJ Hunter being a huge bust. As someone else who was interested in him, this is absurd. First, a pick in the 20s is always a risky bet, and liking one guy over another and being wrong shouldn’t be presented as some sort of scarlet letter. Second, Tyus wasn’t really that good last season, either, certainly not enough to present it as a slam dunk. Finally, his terrible shooting is probably a bad sign that he won’t be consistently above 40% for his career, but HALF of the guys in the top 10 in 3 point % this season were under 35% in their first year, and 4 of them were under 33% (Calderon, Bayless, Dudley, McDermott).

  3. Jello says:

    I LOVE the idea of trading the 5th/LaVine/Dieng for Butler. He is a top 5 perimeter defender (something we sorely need) who can guard multiple positions. Combine him with Rubio (top 5 PG defender), Wiggins’ potential, and Towns and you have an incredibly intimidating starting group no matter who the PF is. That athleticism/length is scary, plus they are talented. Pulling off a trade for Butler would also make us a legitimate hub for FA’s this offseason. Bringing in some quality depth at a reasonable price would offset losing LaVine/Dieng/ and an unknown 5th.

    Now onto contracts, which is a huge reason this is a great deal in my opinion. The Timberwolves currently have 48M in estimated cap next year. Goes up to 56M without Garnett. That’s a lot. A lot a lot. Butler’s contract is roughly 18M per year, or about 11.5M more than the trio (going off of Mario’s numbers from last year). With Garnett, that still leaves 36.5 for next season and more as the cap goes up more than players contracts annuals. Garnett and Pek will be long gone before Wigs and Towns come due. Paying the future isn’t a problem, and Butler would be part of that future with a contract that goes through 2020, longer than LaVine or Dieng by a bit. And there is no guarantee that LaVine or Dieng would stay past their rookie contracts. Dieng seems like a proud man who will want to find a starting opportunity, and LaVine is SoCal through and through.

    In FA, I think Ryan Anderson is a good fit (with the Butler trade). With everyone around him being a stud defender you can hide his weaknesses while benefiting from his shooting. Also serves as a good example for Bjelly on what to do offensively. Jeremy Lin would be an excellent backup PG. Marvin Williams would be another good stretch 4 option. Lots of backup SG’s if we feel the need, but I think Butler/Wigs/Bazz can rotate enough to stay fresh. Joakim might want to work with Thibs again and would be an excellent backup if he’s willing. I think you can get:


    Anderson/Lin/Noah shouldn’t cost anywhere near 36M (the minimum left over after the Butler trade). Plus you have the 20M soon expiring from Pek/Garnett. I think these would be great moves that set the team up to win now while not squandering the chances of the team winning five years from now. Rubio/Butler/Wiggins/Towns would be a great core that can play the next 5-10 years together while we keep surrounding them with young guys/veterans.

    • Mebert says:

      I like a lot of this, a few things I disagree with.

      I am fine with Jones as the backup up PG, no need to Sign Lin I think. I also think Anderson and Noah are going to get way more money then you are thinking in free agency. Anderson got 8.5 with a much smaller cap number. He is still only 28 and provides rebounding and shooting just like before. My guess is he is pulling in around 11 with his next contract. Noah will still get 12-13, I am not thrilled to pay that to be Towns backup.

      For a back up center I would love to get Ian Mahinmi or Festus Ezeli(If Warriors can’t pick up his rights). Zaza Pachulia would be another fantastic option, although a little bit older.

      If the wolves don’t trade the pick and end with Bender or Ellinson I would love for them to take another run at Batum, slide Wiggins to the 2.

      • mikeskunes says:

        True. We need to stay away from Anderson. He’s going to get substantially overpaid.

      • Jello says:

        Batum will be expensive, and I don’t especially like Wigs at the 2. For the right price, I think he would definitely make us a better team (assuming no Butler trade).

        I don’t think Jones will be a viable backup in the playoffs. Just don’t see it, but could be wrong.

        For my projections, I’m figuring Anderson gets 10-11, Noah I think will have to settle for around 9, and Lin for about 5-6. 25-26M would be how much I’d be willing to pay. If they want more, or are offered more elsewhere, I would move on to other guys you mentioned.

        Like Skunes, I really really don’t want Ellenson. Bender seems like a good gamble, though, if we keep the pick. If we end up taking a rookie my ideal situation would be trading down to pick up a role player as the talent drop off isn’t big in my opinion to go even all the way to 15. I really like Ben Bentil so if we can add a role player and grab him late that would be great.

        • Mebert says:

          Ellenson will never be a star, but I think he becomes a solid starter pretty quickly. His release is high and he gets the shot off quick, so with his height he could be a tough guard on the perimeter. I would like better defense at the 4, but I think he would play well with KAT. Plus his assist rate was very good for a big man, I am all for getting another good passer on the floor.

          His 29% from the college 3 is a concern though, I would think that would come up with a good shooting coach.

        • gjk says:

          Anderson’s getting at least $15 million, probably closer to $20 million. A max contract for guys like Batum and Barnes is over $20 million, and they’re likely to get close. Everyone. has. $. Lin easily gets at least $7.5 million and likely closer to $10 million.

    • mikeskunes says:

      I used to be a huge LaVine skeptic, but look at this:
      Player A MPG 38 PPG 13.1 FG% 39.7 3PT% 28.3 FT% 76.9 AST 2.6
      Player B MPG 28 PPG 14.0 FG% 45.2 3PT% 38.9 FT% 79.3 AST 3.1

      Player A is Jimmy Butler at age 24 two years in NBA, Player B is Zach LaVine age 20 with one year in NBA. Now there is no telling whether or not Zach will ever be the type of defensive plus that Butler is, but he’s already much further along offensively than Jimmy was. I think Zach might be primed to breakout getting a full-year as the starting SG and gaining Thibs’ tutelage.

      So I like the deal in theory, but I’d rather trade Shabazz and G for Butler than LaVine.

      • Jello says:

        Oh most definitely. If the Bulls accept an offer of Muhammed/Dieng/5th for Butler you can’t accept that fast enough. I don’t think LaVine will ever be as good as Butler is now, but that’s just a projection. LaVine has come along well, but he is still a major negative due to his defense. However, as a sixth man offensive player he can be an asset in the future. I just don’t see the Bulls taking Muhammed/Dieng/ and probably Dunn for Butler. Maybe we throw in another future protected pick? NBA trades are hard to understand.

      • Mebert says:

        This comparison does not show what Butler added on the defensive end his second year though. I think at that point Butler was already better on that side of the ball then Lavine will ever be.

        I agree though, giving up on Lavine now might be one of those mistakes that haunt you for years. He could be one of the best scorers in the league within a few years, I think Butler is what he is at this point, he might take the Kobe route and improve an aspect of his game every offseason, but he has no more large leaps coming.

  4. sportsbygreg says:

    Lol. Oh ok, I only saw him briefly and also Googled his tape. I thought he had plenty of skill, upside abdominal all around game for a guy 6’10”. Kris Dunn, Murray and Buddy Hield will be in the mix too.

  5. sportsbygreg says:

    Typo – upside and all around game (Ellenson).

  6. sportsbygreg says:

    What about Thon Maker if we trade down out of lottery? Now there’s some real serious upside.

  7. Ryan Fortson says:

    The more I think about it, the more I am in favor of Hield (assuming Bender is gone). I am a big LaVine fan and think he should be our starting SG. Yes, I wish his defense was better, but he has shown a willingness to learn and has the athleticism to be a better defender, so maybe Thibs can teach him how to defend. (And no point in trading Bazz/Gorgui/5th pick for Butler if you are planning on keeping LaVine. It would decimate our bench for minimal return.) The biggest need the Wolves have is at starting PF. I see Gorgui more as a backup center who could do spot duty as a PF. Ellenson might turn into a solid player, but it will take a couple of years before he is better than what we already have in Bjelly. Maybe we can get a PF through free agency. But I remember too many games (especially after LaVine went into the starting line up) where our lack of bench scoring would squander leads our starting line up built. Bazz runs hot and cold. Hield may have his weaknesses defensively, but he is ready to be a scorer right now and could provide the spark our bench needs. I’m not saying he is the next Curry, but we overthought things in that draft. Hield had one of the best offensive seasons in recent memory for a college SG. This should not be that hard.

  8. sportsbygreg says:

    Great points! I’m a huge LaVine fan too. I think he will be a star. Hield wouldn’t be a bad choice, but, as you stated, Wolves need a PF. I honestly think Ellenson is a good pick at that spot if Bender is gone(and he will be).

  9. jumbob says:

    Dude, that $48 m is the luxury tax space. We can’t sign free agents up to that. We have more like $28 m in cap space to spend. Any deal for Butler will have to include the pick, so he will be on our cap before free agency. That will leave around $16.5 M left for all other needs, assuming your math netting him with LaVine and Dieng is right.

    The only way the the Chicago leadership are ever going to trade Butler to Thibs is if they feel like they are robbing him blind. They hate Thibs and that is why he is our coach now. Now as a fan of LaVine and Dieng, I do feel this favors Chicago. I just suspect that from Chicago’s perspective they wouldn’t be reaming Thibs enough. I think they can get similar offers from teams like Boston if they decide to move him.

    • Jello says:

      Can you not sign FA’s from other teams into the luxury tax? If you can, it just depends on how much Glen is willing to spend. OKC spent 93.7M this season, 23.7M over the cap. The projected luxury line for next year is 108M, the project luxury line in two years is 129M with a cap of 109M. You could be paying the highest luxury next season and be under the cap paying no luxury the next. Paying luxury tax for one season to lock up some good players is going to be well worth it this offseason.

      My guess is Garnett is not back next season, though. I think we can go just a little into the luxury with the Butler trade plus some FA’s. 24.5M before hitting the luxury still gives a lot of flexibility.

      • Ryan Fortson says:

        You cannot go over the salary cap to sign players from other teams. You can go over the salary cap to resign your own players (though it is complicated). This is what happens to most teams over the cap. If you go too far over the salary gap you hit the luxury tax, in which you pay additional penalties. Regardless, we have room for one max player (which I would only do for Horford) or an assortment of bench players (more likely).

    • gjk says:

      You’re absolutely right about Butler and the Bulls front office. It’s one thing for Thibs to go after free agents who used to play for him because he doesn’t have to deal with the guys who fired him and take every opportunity to throw him under the bus. There’s no way this deal happens for a price that any of us would find acceptable.

  10. jumbob says:

    As Ryan says, you can’t go into luxury to sign players other than your own. We have room for one max player and trading for Butler would eliminate that ability.

    I agree that if Horford would sign with us, he would be awesome. PF is a bigger need than SG. I’m not sure an all star will sign with a team pushing to get to the playoffs when he can sign with a playoff team pushing to get to a championship. This will be his last max deal and he’s still in position to push for the max for a contender. I absolutely think the Wolves need to make the call and see if young talent + Thibs are enough to start to draw in top free agents.

  11. jumbob says:

    I don’t know if there is a time limit on hitting reply, or if there is some other issue. For some reason, my replies aren’t being tied to the threads they are replying to.

  12. shlabotnik13 says:

    Keep the pick!! Lots of good players. I like Murray, Hield, and Jaylen Brown, although Murray will probably be gone before 5. Build the culture with a group of young guys that have the right desire and temperament. Then assess free agent needs next year (maybe a modest signing or trade this summer). Reaching for a big-name free agent at this point is premature, especially at the expense of loads of young talent. Patience, people. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  13. Matt S says:

    A good big man who can come off the bench is way more important than us worrying about shooting. Zach, Wiggie, and KAT will have that on lock down next year. I don’t want to see another dude like Greg Smith get playing time. He worked, but wasn’t great. Draft one of those two PFs, and see what happens.

    I am very intrigued by this Butler conversation. Rubio-Wiggins-Butler-KAT-whoever is a ridiculously big “small” lineup. Could work well in today’s NBA.

  14. gjk says:

    The one thing being overlooked in these comments is the guy at the top of the pyramid: Taylor. Thibodeau has nurtured young talent and gotten them to be productive, Layden probably understands the value of rookie-scale contracts and might not want to repeat the Nene-Antonio McDyess trade he made as Knicks GM, but Taylor is the wild card. I’m concerned about unintended consequences with this; they still need good talent, and it’s questionable that the pick has enough value to return more in trade than in just making the pick.

    They need good players. Now, they don’t need guys who do the same things at lower level of quality than Wiggins and Towns, but there will be options to get guys with complementary skills and NBA-caliber physical measurements. If they have a chance to move back in the lottery and pick up another asset to replace the one they gave up for Payne, it’s worth considering. The only person they couldn’t get later that they *might* get at 5 is Bender. I have no interest in Kris Dunn and find it annoying that they’re considering Worse Rubio at that pick.

  15. vicardwm says:

    I am fine with whoever is left between Hield, Murray, and Bender. Hield and Murray would fill needs for us and Bender has too much potential to be considered a bad pick. My guess is that we will be left with either Hield or Murray. I’m not a fan of trading for Butler unless we can do it w/o giving up LaVine.

    • sportsbygreg says:

      What about acquiring Hassan Whiteside and moving Towns to the 4, then draft Murray, who’s a great scorer and three point shooter and can be interchangeable at point or off gaurd?

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