Archives For NBA draft

Love at the Lottery

Benjamin Polk —  May 17, 2013 — 4 Comments

This from the Wolves:

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that All-Star forward Kevin Love will represent the team at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery, to be held on Tuesday, May 21…

“It’s an honor to represent the Wolves at this year’s Draft Lottery,” said Love. “With two first-round picks, we are in a good position to add to our current roster. Hopefully I can bring us some luck.”

Repping a team at the lottery is not a huge thing obviously. Jay-Z has done it; season-ticket holders have done it; nerdy little kids have done it (click on that link and just look at David Kahn’s face); Real Housewives have done it.  But just days after Kahn capped a career of subtly belittling his team’s best player, this seems to me to be a small but decisive acknowledgement of where this team’s fortunes lie. Perhaps this is a baby step to repairing Love’s relationship with the team’s management.

Robbie Hummel, small forward from Purdue University.

I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with a 58th pick. Do you grab someone you can stash away in Europe for a couple of years? Do you essentially pick a guy that can develop in the D-League for you? Is there a way to address a need at 58? Are you just grabbing someone you hope can push the guys on your roster to compete in Summer League and training camp?

Wolves took Robbie Hummel with the 58th pick for two reasons:

1) He can shoot the lights out and this team sucked at shooting last season.
2) He’s torn his ACL twice.

I’m not sure that Hummel will ever be able to truly compete in the NBA after his injuries. We don’t know if it’s completely robbed him of the athletic ability and quickness to stay with NBA talent on a nightly basis. Before he was injured, Hummel was being picked as an All-American candidate and projecting to be a first round pick. He could have probably gone anywhere from late lottery to the mid-20s in the first round. On February 24, 2010, he tore his right ACL in a game here against the Gophers. About eight months later, Hummel tore the same ACL in a team practice on October 16th. Because these injuries happened to him, he fell drastically over the past two years. He essentially ended up in the Wolves’ reach because his ACL tore twice.

Through both of these devastating injuries, he’s come back. After two ACL injuries in the same knee, Robbie scored 16.4 points per game (career-high) for the Boilermakers last season. Sure, he shot a career-worst 41.7% from the field to get those scoring numbers but he also averaged a career-best 7.2 rebounds per game. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He doesn’t make a ton of plays. He just knows how to shoot the ball and find ways to score.

As far as his athleticism, he’s doing okay. Hummel was never the guy to wow you with his movement from a pure athletic standpoint. But when he measured out for the Draft Combine a couple weeks ago, he finished 23rd out of 40 small forwards in the 3/4 court sprint. He finished 25th out of 39 small forwards in the lane agility test. When he had his workout here in Minneapolis, he looked to be in phenomenal shape and moving quite well without even wearing a knee brace.

It’s unrealistic to think the 58th pick is going to come to the team and have an impact. In the last 10 years, only Luis Scola has been the third-to-last player drafted and made a real impact. The second best player in this classification is a fight between Brandon Hunter, Lester Hudson and Derrick Caracter. No, seriously. But Robbie Hummel isn’t your typical end of the draft guy. He was a legit NBA prospect before blowing out the same knee twice. He came back from those injuries to prove he can still play, and he showed enough in the pre-draft workout to let the Wolves think, “what the hell?” and give him a shot.

This week, the Wolves added two really incredible shooters to their roster. This is a good thing considering the Wolves were 27th in FG%, 23rd in 3FG%, 18th in TS%, and 20th in EFG%. If there was a way to measure shooting from anywhere that wasn’t the free throw line, the Wolves pretty much struggled. Now with guys like Chase Budinger and Robbie Hummel on the roster, you can feel a little confident spreading the floor. And when you can spread the floor, you open up driving lanes for Ricky Rubio (when he’s back) and J.J. Barea. You also open up entire sides of the floor for Kevin Love, which in turn opens up the middle for Nikola Pekovic. Adding shooting to this attack is a symbiotic relationship. It allows the offense to be a living and breathing organism.

Chase Budinger and Robbie Hummel may not be the sexiest of moves for this team, but the Wolves are addressing a huge need. They need a specific set of skills (like Liam Neeson in Taken) and are grasping them in the morning sunrise of the 2012 offseason.

 

That’s a good question.

With the Wolves now in possession of a competent wing player and the 58th pick, there really isn’t much commotion on the surface of our draft waters. We can assume that the feet are paddling furiously beneath the surface, but as of right now everything seems calm. What are the options that sit at the Wolves fingertips?

  • The team could do nothing, try to grab a guy with a decent chance of making the roster with the 58th pick and prepare for the qualifying offer deadline that is June 30th.
  • The team could trade up in the second round (Wes Johnson, anybody?) and try to grab a coveted big man like Miles Plumlee. Team is big on Plumlee and it doesn’t look like there’s a chance of him lasting 58 picks. I know most people are underwhelmed by him and you probably should be. But he is an imposing figure, athletic as all get-out (as the kids say) and could maybe be a decent fourth big man in the rotation.
  •  The team could trade Derrick Williams and try to grab someone in the first round. What’s kind of crazy is D Dub’s value seems pretty low after a mediocre rookie season. If he were going in this draft and hadn’t played in the NBA yet, he’d be a lock for the second pick. The news yesterday that Derrick has lost roughly 12 pounds so far this off-season and is looking to get down to 225 bodes well for trying to maximize his ability with this team. If the Wolves tried to trade him to get into the Top 5, they’d probably be laughed off the phone lines. Personally, unless we’re getting a good wing veteran in return, I’d like to see what Derrick Williams 2.0 can do for this team with a full training camp.
  • (Obligatory point guard joke that isn’t made by anybody but people who haven’t paid attention to the team since Draft Night 2009 and have no idea the Wolves didn’t select Ty Lawson but that Denver did)
  • Targuy Ngombo 2: Electric Boogaloo

There is a list of second round picks that I’d love the Wolves to be able to pluck. Kim English is the top of my list because I think he’d be a great addition to this locker room and to the attack of the Wolves. But he’s projected to go near the beginning of the second round and the Wolves may not have the enticing pieces to move up 25-ish spots in the second round. When the Wolves seemed to not be working out many prospects in the weeks leading up to the draft, I assumed tonight would be kind of insane for us. With the Budinger trade, that Draft Night storm seems to have quelled itself.

Ultimately, it might be a really quiet evening here in the Twin Cities. And I’d be fine with that. I like where this team is (assuming Ricky comes back healthy) moving forward and I think the flexibility of the roster and cap space can be used properly this off-season to help the team greatly improved, depending on which guy is really making the moves (Team Rick).

Wolves have taken themselves out of the 18th pick fiasco that I babbled about yesterday by dealing it to the Houston Rockets for Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu.

The Eliyahu aspect of the trade shouldn’t really matter. He’s a good athlete that really can’t shoot or do much with the ball. I guess a guy like Rubio could make him valuable in the open court on some level, but he really shouldn’t have a real chance at making the team if the Wolves are serious about filling out this roster. He’ll be at Summer League and we’ll see how he’s progressed.

As far as Chase Budinger goes, I love this deal for the Wolves. Is Chase Budinger a future star in the NBA? No. It’s also unlikely the Wolves would have picked up a wing player at 18 that would have provided the instant production that Chase will bring to the team. Terrence Ross falling to the Wolves seems like the only way the team could have maximized this pick. Otherwise, it’s a lot of square pegs into holes that already have square pegs there.

Chase Budinger is as good of an athlete as anybody that will be available, so let’s not pretend they downgraded there. He’s also a guy that shot 40.2% from 3-point range last year. Not only did he shoot 40.2% from 3-point range last year but he can make corner 3s as well.

Check out the next three shot charts.  Continue Reading…

Befuddled by the process

Zach Harper —  June 25, 2012 — 3 Comments

The Timberwolves are confusing me.

There are some things we know for sure:

- This team plays at the Target Center.
- They currently have a team with two star-quality players in Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
- Rick Adelman is the head coach.
- Glen Taylor is the owner.
- David Kahn is the president of basketball operations.
- The Wolves currently possess the 18th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. They also have the 58th pick.
- They’re currently running one of the oddest draft processes a lot of people have ever seen.

I came back earlier from the Wolves’ workout of Will(ie) Barton, Ramone Moore, Yancy Gates and Garrett Stutz. This was Moore’s second time working out with the Wolves, so maybe they really like his chances of being available at 58 for some backcourt depth. Gates and Stutz are most likely irrelevant and just workout filler to get some big men in here to run some 2-on-2 sets that test guards.

This was Barton’s first workout with the Wolves. He’s been through so many workouts over the past month that he said he actually forgets what city he just came from most mornings. He’ll be in Indianapolis tomorrow and trying to remember that he was just here today. Barton has also been shooting up draft boards throughout this draft process.

When the Wolves pick at 18, it’s possible he’s the guy. When the Wolves pick at 18, it’s also possible Royce White will come home to make his NBA debut. It’s also possible that Fab Melo’s workout with the team Tuesday will vault him into being the 18th pick. Or maybe Draymond Green from Michigan State will get the nod because of his prior workout with the team.

Or what if… um… who else was here… Drew Gordon… yeah… what if Drew Gordon ends up being the pick for the Wolves? Is that a possibility?  Continue Reading…

We are 23 days away from the NBA Draft and we’ve already seen the Wolves invite 26 different players into Minneapolis to have a gander at what they can possibly add to this organization.

For the most part, we’ve seen players that probably aren’t good enough to be taken with the 18th pick in the draft and yet too good to fall to the 58th pick in the draft. This makes it a bit hard to construct our draft board. However, I’m going to attempt to do just that.

A lot of times, you’ll see a draft board for a team that includes anybody you’d like to see on the roster. You’re picking out names that you hope fall to the Wolves or any given team and hopeful that they’ll take a look at these prospects. Our draft board at AWAW will be a bit different. We’re only going to rank those that have come through for workouts and try to figure it out from there.

It’s too early to have a good idea of the actual options that will be there three weeks from now, especially considering we haven’t even had the Draft Combine yet (June 6-10, and on ESPNU at 9am on 6/7).  In both of the Mock Drafts since the lottery unfolded, Chad Ford has the Wolves taking Austin Rivers at 18. But we won’t really know how likely that is until much closer to the draft and if the Wolves end up working him out.

So here is the AWAW Draft Board for 2012 considering only the players that have been brought in so far and it will be updated as more workouts happen for our beloved T’Pups:  Continue Reading…

After Thursday’s first two rounds of workouts, the Wolves hosted 12 more players today while execs from all over the league visited the Target Center. As of right now, our beloved Wolves still have the 18th and the 58th picks in this upcoming draft.

First round of Friday workouts included:
Kim English, G, Missouri
Justin Hamilton, C, Louisiana State
Robbie Hummel, F, Purdue
Orlando Johnson, G, UC Santa Barbara
Julian Mavunga, F, Miami (Ohio)
Tony Mitchell, F, Alabama

Second session this morning was:
Marcus Denmon, G, Missouri
JaMychal Green, F, Alabama
Darius Johnson-Odom, G, Marquette
Kyle O’Quinn, F, Norfolk State
Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga
Mike Scott, F, Virginia
Continue Reading…

Timberwolves have announced the team will workout 12 players in two different sessions on Thursday. Our beloved Wolves have the 18th and the 58th picks in this upcoming draft.

First sessions will be comprised of:

J’Covan Brown, G, Texas,
Drew Gordon, F, New Mexico
Miles Plumlee, C, Duke
Tomas Satoransky, G, Sevilla (Spain)
John Shurna, F, Northwestern
Wesley Witherspoon, F, Memphis

Second session in the afternoon/early evening will have:

Quincy Acy, F, Baylor
Jae Crowder, F, Marquette
Scott Machado, G, Iona
Ramone Moore, G, Temple
Kevin Murphy, G, Tennessee Tech
Casper Ware, G, Long Beach State

J’Covan Brown, PG/SG, Texas, Draft Express ranked 46th, ESPN ranked 60th
J’Covan is most likely a point guard at the NBA level even though he played a lot off the ball next to Avery Bradley (Celtics), Cory Joseph (Spurs) and Myck Kabongo (one of the top PG prospects in next year’s draft) during his three years at Texas. Brown can flat-out score the ball. He can dribble past just about anybody, has a good looking 3-point shot, and kind of reminds me of a mix between Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum. Problem is he doesn’t really have a filter on what is and isn’t a good shot and he’s only about 6’2″, which isn’t ideal if in fact he can’t play the point at the NBA level. On a scale of 1 to Barea, he probably over dribbles the ball at about a 7.

Drew Gordon, PF, New Mexico, Draft Express ranked 39th, ESPN ranked 54th
At 6’9″ and about 240, Drew isn’t the biggest of power forward prospects and that’s what is working against him. He’s a pretty good athlete and has a nice wingspan (I’ll be curious to see how he measures out with that), but he’s not a very strong big man. He also doesn’t really have a post game. The way he moves actually reminds me a lot of a shorter Hakim Warrick. He’s a really good rebounder (15.0 and 14.4 per 40 minutes the last two years) and is a solid shot-blocker. He can hit mid-range jumpers so maybe he can be a weapon in pick-and-rolls. He played four years in college (two at UCLA, two at New Mexico), sat out the 2009-10 season and is still not quite 22 years old.

Miles Plumlee, PF/C, Duke, Draft Express ranked 67th, ESPN ranked 55th
You may remember Miles Plumlee as the lesser of the two Plumlee brothers. Well, there’s actually a third Plumlee brother too. They’re basically invading every fabric of basketball we can imagine. Miles is definitely the worst of the lot but he’s also one of the few big men in this draft with an NBA ready body. He’s 6’11″ and about 250 lbs of muscle and… that’s about it. He didn’t try to do too much with the ball. He was a good rebounder (13.9 per 40 minutes last season) and a decent shot blocker. But there’s a reason he only played 20 minutes per game. He just doesn’t give a lot outside of his size.

Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, Sevilla (Spain), Draft Express ranked 42nd, ESPN ranked 41st
Tomas is a very tall (6’7″) and long point guard prospect that could be a really good combo guard in the NBA. His biggest issues are that he’s not a good shooter and he’s still learning what is and isn’t a pass he can make. However, he’s a heck of a playmaker and not afraid to try to find seams for his big men to make plays at the basket. He’s got a pretty good first step and his handle is more than solid. He could get pushed around at the NBA level because he’s not very strong, but that could all be negated by his ability to get around defenders with his long steps and his quickness. He’s only 20 years old so he could be stashed in Europe for a couple years.

John Shurna, SF/PF, Northwestern, Draft Express ranked 73rd, ESPN ranked 82nd
If Shurna sticks in the NBA, he’s probably going to end up as a Steve Novak/Ryan Anderson type of stretch-4. He can shoot from downtown (43.4% and 44.0% the last two seasons) and has a great release on his jumper. But he doesn’t really do anything else. He’s not a good athlete, he’s not strong and he’s a tweener at the 3 and 4 positions.

Wesley Witherspoon, SF, Memphis, Draft Express ranked 94th, ESPN ranked 86th
This guy is a 6’9″ pogo stick who might end up being a lockdown defensive role player. He can play both wing positions and shot the 3 pretty well over the last three seasons, but it’s hard to really believe he has good, consistent range on his jumper. He only took 177 3-pointers in the last three seasons. If he was a really good shooter, wouldn’t that number be a lot higher? You’re probably not drafting him for his offense though. He can guard either wing, and could maybe even guard stretch-4s and some point guards too. Can’t really create much off the dribble.

Quincy Acy, PF, Baylor, Draft Express Ranked 80th, ESPN ranked 64th
Quincy Acy is a MAN. He looks like Reggie Evans but he’s a lot more athletic than Reggie. With his size (6’7″ and 230 lbs), he’s more suited to be a 3 than a 4 in the NBA. However, he doesn’t have the skills of a 3 in any way. He’ll jump out of the gym and doesn’t shy away from contact at the rim, but for a guy with such athleticism and tenacity, his rebounding could have been a lot better (10 per 40 minutes). Maybe he’s one of these guys we doubt at the NBA level because he’s short for his position but ends up player much bigger. He’ll baptize anybody at the rim.

Jae Crowder, SF/PF, Marquette, Draft Express Ranked 43rd, ESPN ranked 47th
Crowder is another tweener at the 3/4 position but he’s 6’6″ soaking wet and not going to get any taller any time soon. His ability to score is impressive and since he can play the face-up perimeter game, maybe that’s his advantage against bigger guys at the next level. Crowder can also run well off of screens and spot up for jumpers. He has good strength but I just don’t know who he guards at the next level. He’s strong enough to guard 4s but he’s too small. Is he quick enough to guard 3s?

Scott Machado, PG, Iona, Draft Express ranked 49th, ESPN ranked 35th
I’m trying to decide if I like Scott Machado’s point guard prospects because he’s good or because this draft class just doesn’t have a lot of them. He’s a really good playmaker. He racked up 9.9 assists per game last year as a senior, which is kind of an insane number for college basketball. He had huge statistical jumps in his shooting percentages, which could be the sign of him finally figuring out his skill set or it could just be an outlier. Biggest question with him becomes whether or not he was successful because of his competition or because he’s this good. Reminds me a bit of Andre Miller with his body control and patience.

Ramone Moore, PG/SG, Temple, Draft Express not ranked, ESPN not ranked
I have no idea who this guy is. I just tried to get familiar with a mixtape of highlights on YouTube and what I took away is he has a nice shot from outside and a pretty good handle on the ball. Then again, they probably aren’t going to show the times he’s turned the ball over or failed to run the offense well. He’s the size of a big point guard (6’4″ and 180) but if he ends up being a shooting guard in the NBA, he’ll probably get manhandled. Definitely need to find more out about him.

Kevin Murphy, SG/SF, Tennessee Tech, Draft Express ranked 40th, ESPN ranked 37th
Murphy is a really big-time scorer that can be a little out of control with his ball security. He’s not much of a playmaker for others but with his ability to score the ball, he never really needed to be. He can stroke it from outside, is great coming off of screens, and can get to the basket to finish. He’s very smooth with the ball and makes a lot of things look effortless. However, he’s probably not even 200 lbs and will get pushed around a bit in the NBA. If he can add some muscle and toughness, he’s a great prospect at the 2.

Casper Ware, PG, Long Beach State, Draft Express ranked 58th, ESPN ranked 68th
Casper reminds me of Isaiah Thomas (Kings not Pistons) a little bit. He’s a strong but small guy that probably is much more of a scorer than he is a point guard. He didn’t do much playmaking at LBSU because his job was to get the ball in the basket. He takes a lot of shots and doesn’t shoot a very high percentage. However, he can shoot it from just about anywhere. He’s extremely quick and could make for a pest of a backup point guard someday.

Jazz hands

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.

In June of 2009, the Sacramento Kings were faced with a very tough decision. Do you draft for flash and marketability or do you try to change the culture of your organization?

At the time, the Kings were known as a “soft” organization, incapable of being consistently tough enough both mentally and physically. This identity, whether correct or not, had been stamped on the organization for the past decade. They were a wonderfully skilled team back in the Vlade-Webber-Peja triumvirate days, but as they continued to lose to the Lakers and couldn’t contain the power of Shaquille O’Neal year after year, they were tagged with the label of not being tough enough and not being a strong defensive team.

Looking back on this stigma, it was complete and utter guano. The early aught Kings were as good and as tough as any team in the NBA. Just because they couldn’t push Shaq out of post position time and time again had nothing to do with measuring just how macho they were as a unit. And yet there they were, labeled with being weak. After Chris Webber blew out his knee, the Kings struggled to find an identity. They traded C-Webb for more manageable roster parts, and tried to shift certain players here and there. After learning that Adelman wasn’t the problem (thanks for that, by the way!) and that turning Peja into Ron Artest wasn’t the solution, the Kings went back to the drawing board.

They had a tough decision to make. Do you draft the hype surrounding Ricky Rubio or do you take on a new identity with the soft-spoken and hard-driving Tyreke Evans?  Continue Reading…