Archives For NBA draft

I would have included this in my links yesterday but it hadn’t been written yet. Not my fault. But today at Truehoop, Tom Haberstroh opens eyes by revealing that while “draft efficiency alone explains 34 percent of the variability in a team’s record over the past decade” payroll size explains just seven percent. So much for economic inequality explaining competitive imbalance, I guess. (Effing hysterical, by the way, that some of the country’s most bloated plutocrats are whinging about economic inequality. As Dave Berri recently put it in this radio interview, “Americans love socialism in their sports.”)

Of perhaps more interest to us Wolves’ followers: Haberstroh includes a chart detailing the league’s best-drafting and worst-drafting teams over the past decade. Guess what is not surprising: the Wolves came in second-worst. This, more than any other reason–more even than market size or chilly winters–is why they are bad.

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Photo by Zephyrbunny

Becoming a media-savvy NBA player generally involves whitewashing one’s own spontaneity, taking care not to offend, not to reveal, not even really to amuse or express much of anything at all beyond rote gestures of confidence and deference.  Derrick Williams seems well on his way to mastering this drab, corporate non-speak (a style that is all the more disappointing when one overhears the colorful, often clever and playful, occasionally crass and nasty ways that players interact with each other).

But his principle charm, at the moment, lies in the fact his nervous smile, his wide eyes and mumbled, teenager-y speech belie the canned, practiced phrases. Williams is a late entry in the game of being famous. He still seems less like a professional personality than an actual naive, college aged human person.

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End of the tunnel

Myles Brown —  June 24, 2011 — Leave a comment

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Things are looking up. Again.

For all of the rampant speculation and conjecture that draft week brings, the results-even if unexpected-are always satisfying. There is no more blind chatter about what we want, only lucid assessments of what we actually have. Tonight, we have improved as a basketball team. Significantly.

Derrick Williams is now a Timberwolf and according to David Kahn, a Timberwolf he shall remain. Despite late rumblings that Enes Kanter would be the second draftee to shake Commissioner Stern’s hand, management went with the proven talent and the best available player; who in a year may prove himself to be the best overall. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, we have tomorrow to look forward to, where we’ll be able to get all up close and personal with Mr. Williams during his introductory press conference.

Our 20th pick, Lithuanian center, Donatas Motiejunas will be receiving the red carpet treatment elsewhere. Motiejunas was packaged along with the remains of Jonny Flynn in a deal for journeyman center Brad Miller, the 23rd pick, the 38th pick and a future first rounder. (Farewell, Jonny. We knew thee all too well.) Now Miller’s arrival may shed doubt on the development  of either Darko Milicic or Nikola Pekovic, but as my friend Chris told me, “That’s one of them good problems.” Only a miniscule amount of Miller’s contract is guaranteed and in the event that we keep him, we’ve inherited a defensive presence capable of holding down the post for 15-20 minutes a night.

From there, things got a bit confusing. Kahn traded to the 23rd pick to the Bulls for picks 28 & 43. Then he traded the 28th pick to Miami for the 31st and a future second rounder. Then the 31st was moved to New Jersey for a 2013 second rounder and cash. Just when our heads were about to stop spinning, Kahn gave the 38th pick back to Houston for more cash and somehow got the 57th pick from Dallas. In between all of that action, we actually did gain another player, Malcolm Lee, with the 43rd pick. Finally, we turned lucky no. 57 into Tanguy Ngombo.

It seemed as though the Wolves were attempting to kill two birds with one stone during this flurry of phone calls, and one of them was named Rambis. However, Kahn assured the collected media afterwards that the secured cash was not for our pseudo-coach’s buyout. Nonetheless, by using only one of our first round picks, we avoided the risk of cluttering our roster with more guaranteed contracts.

So hard as we may be on our P.O.B.O., he deserves congratulations for his work this evening. Another shrewd trade and within the span of one week, two of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year. Well done, sir.

Now who’s going to coach them?

Kanter emerges

Benjamin Polk —  June 22, 2011 — 1 Comment

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Photo by Austin Kleon

You may have begun hearing chatter that the Wolves are considering taking Enes Kanter over Derrick Williams with the second pick. Now, two things. First, I think its always a good thing for a team to sow a little uncertainty as to their draft decisions. Even if the Wolves are still dead set on taking Williams, floating the Kanter rumor is a good idea if for no other reason than to generate more and better trade possibilities.

But second: Kanter is clearly a big, smart, amazingly skilled player. He is agile; he passes well; he can score down low and also hit a midrange jumper. In so many ways he seems to be the big man that the Wolves have been dying for.  But now consider the idea–which I find very convincing–that the only even marginally reliable indicator for how a player will perform in the NBA is how he has performed in the past. There have been countless big, skilled, athletic players who seem like pre-destined All-Stars but who have just not turned out to be very good NBA players (one of them is on the Wolves right now). Now consider that Kanter has almost no experience playing at an elite level of competition. We literally have almost no information about how he has played in the past. This is not a good thing.

Now check out this quote from Jonathan Givony of Draft Express:

This lack of experience shows up first and foremost on the defensive end, where Kanter was incredibly ineffective in the film we watched. His fundamentals, instincts and positioning leave a lot to be desired. He can often be found standing straight up in the paint with his arms down, putting in little to no effort. He rarely boxes out his opponent and generally looks disinterested in anything that has to do with defense. He rarely bends his knees and often fails to get back in transition–doing very little to protect the paint when he does.

This draft, mediocre though it is, is still hugely important for the Wolves. Do we really know enough about Enes Kanter (and is what we do know impressive enough?) to wager so much on him?

Notes on a draft

Benjamin Polk —  June 22, 2011 — 2 Comments

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It is worth your while to check out John Hollinger’s Draft Rater, a metric that attempts to predict, based on their college stats, which players in the draft will have the most success in the pros. You may very well be thinking right now that such an attempt at the inexact science of predicting the future is probably a fool’s errand. And in some ways you might be right.

But Hollinger does something cool here, which is to be totally transparent about the ways that the metric fails. It has been a pretty accurate predictor of NBA success for perimeter players (Jordan Farmar seems like the only really glaring mistake over the past ten years), but has struggled a bit with big men. (You should definitely check Hollinger’s article for din depth discussion of his method).

Nonetheless, Hollinger’s work yields some pretty interesting findings for our Wolves. The first is that Derrick Williams is indeed the second-best player in the draft and should make a good pro. (This is actually more reassuring than interesting I guess).

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The 2011 ESPN TrueHoop Network NBA Mock Draft is here and I’m more than glad to represent the Wolves with the 20th pick. Each selection will be made available on network sites, will cover just the first round, and will be made according to prediction, not some blogger preference. Enjoy.

Previous Pick:
Check back hourly for picks until 5 pm today, pick 11 will start at 8 am on Tuesday.

#11 — Jimmer Fredette, Golden State Warriors — Warriors World
#12 — Chris Singleton, Utah Jazz —
Salt City Hoops
#13 — Tristan Thompson, Phoenix Suns —
Valley of the Suns
#14 — Jan Vesely, Houston Rockets —
Hardwood Paroxysm
#15 — Markieff Morris, Indiana Pacers —
8 Points, 9 Seconds
#16 — Nikola Vucevic, Philadelphia 76ers —
Philadunkia
#17 — Klay Thompson, New York Knicks —
KnickerBlogger
#18 — Jordan Hamilton, Washington Wizards —
Truth About It
#19 — Kenneth Faried, Charlotte Bobcats —
Queen City Hoops

With the 20th pick in the 2011 TrueHoop Network Mock Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select Marshon Brooks from Providence University.

With the Ricky Rubio press conference and the Wolves selecting Derrick Williams with the second pick in this mock draft already, getting Marshon Brooks at #20 couldn’t be a better draft scenario for Minnesota.

The immediate comparison that people have thrown out there regarding Brooks is Kobe Bryant. You’ll read a lot of places that he “has a little Kobe in him.” I think the comparisons come more from how his game looks than how his game is played. You can tell Kobe was an influence on Brooks when he was morphing his game into what it is now, because their jumpers, body control and moves look very similar.

But if you want a real NBA comparison for how he could translate to the NBA, I’d offer up Nick Young of the Washington Wizards. He’s not nearly the outside shooter that Young is (topped out at 35.1% from 3 in his college career), but he looks for his shot inside the 3-point arc in a similar way. Brooks is very skilled with the basketball and can penetrate the defense with veritable ease. He does a great job of using his quickness to get the angle on his defender, and then uses his strength and body control to absorb contact while putting up a quality shot.

Brooks has great athleticism and displays it whenever he can. He measured at a 38.5-inch vertical leap at the draft combine, and you’ll see it often when he attacks the basket. But the way times it really shines to me are when he’s attacking the offensive glass and playing help defense.

Marshon had an offensive rebounding percentage of 15.5% in his final year at Providence. He has spectacular timing and the ability to rise up over unsuspecting big men who aren’t boxing out. He also plays the angles in a very savvy way. He’ll adjust his path to the basket, as the shot gets closer to the rim, and slither into whatever opening he can find.

Defensively, Brooks is almost equally as effective. He plays passing lanes well and can defend one-on-one good enough, but where he really shines is coming over from the weak side to alter and block shots. As a senior, he averaged over one block per game. He’s so quick with his rotations on defense that he can get in position to challenge jumpers and pull-ups in the lane. He does get lost from time to time, as most young players do, but his instincts in helping off the ball really shine through the more you watch him.

Most importantly, Brooks is a guy who can break down the defense without being a complete ball-stopper. He put up big scoring numbers his last season because he just knows how to get into the teeth of the defense, absorb contact and never get rattled. He skyrocketed his free throw attempts in his final season from 2.7 to 6.8 per game.

The outside jumper is still a big question for him and he’s a bit undersized at the shooting guard position at just over 6’5”. But for the 20th pick in this draft, having Marshon Brooks fall to Minnesota would give them the potential to find a long-term starter at the shooting guard position in a draft full of role players.

The Portland Trailblazers are on the clock.

The 2011 ESPN TrueHoop Network NBA Mock Draft is here and I’m more than glad to represent the Wolves with the second pick. Each selection will be made available on network sites, will cover just the first round, and will be made according to prediction, not some blogger preference. Enjoy.

Previous Pick:
Check back hourly for picks until 5 pm today, pick 11 will start at 8 am on Tuesday.

#1 — Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers — Cavs The Blog

With the 2nd pick in the 2011 TrueHoop Network Mock Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select Derrick Williams from the University of Arizona.

While some may be wondering just how many forwards the Wolves can acquire in one 15-man roster (point guard jokes are SOOOOOOO before Ricky Rubio signed), this kind of has to be the pick for Minnesota in this draft. Now the Wolves have a glutton of tweeners at the forward position and it means they’ll have options in moving one, two or all of them.

The reason they take Derrick Williams is because he’s the next closest player to Kyrie Irving that is capable of becoming a star in this league. It doesn’t mean he will become a star though. Derrick Williams is an athletic freak that doesn’t always move all that athletically. He’s a deadeye shooter that doesn’t always snipe from long distance at a mercurial rate. He’s a can’t-miss prospect that could very well miss.

Does all of this seem confusing and contradictory? Absolutely. That’s kind of what I feel about Derrick Williams. He contradicts himself without ever really trying to. And it’s not necessarily his fault; he just is a pretty good player in a very star-shallow draft.

When I say he’s an athletic freak who can’t doesn’t always move all that athletically, here’s what I mean. Derrick Williams can be very explosive off the bounce. He gets up to the rim quickly and drops the hammer down on opponents like he’s playing Whack-a-Mole. Every time he comes down the lane, he gets a bit of a burst of athleticism. But when he’s moving around with the ball and trying to create in a less cutting-through-the-lane kind of way and more of an I-have-to-do-this-all-myself kind of way, the result is a bit of a plodding and clumsy player.

It doesn’t mean he’s bad or really all that clumsy. I’ve just noticed that he can move pretty awkwardly and in a heavy manner when he’s forced to put the ball on the floor. At times, he looks a little like Boris Diaw to me. Not so much with his skills but just the way he moves around. Darius Soriano from Forum Blue & Gold thought he looked more like Glenn Robinson with the way he plays. I can see both at times, which kind of scares me and yet intrigues me too.

When I say he’s a deadeye shooter that doesn’t always snipe from long range, here’s what I mean. Derrick Williams had a ridiculous 3-point percentage last year. He made 56.8% of his 3s last season, which sounds like a drool-worthy basketball skill. However, I’m a little skeptical because he hasn’t always had this reputation for being a long-range threat.

He only took 16 attempts from 3 as a freshman. As a sophomore (when he set his 56.8% mark) Williams attempted 74 3-pointers. Typically, shooters shoot no matter what their role is at the college level. And yet, Derrick Williams didn’t come in and establish himself as a long-range threat. Is it fair to favor his freshman numbers over his sophomore numbers? No, not at all. It just makes me skeptical and hesitant to buy into the fantastic shooting from this past season.

If we took Derrick Rose’s December 3-point shooting, he attempted 73 3-point shots and made 43.8% of those shots. That furious long-range shooting from early in the season gave everyone reason to believe his 3-point shot was now a deadly weapon. For months, he’d be touted as an improved shooter. But take away that month and he shot 30.7% from 3-point range. See how deceiving 73 or 74 3-point attempts can be?

Now what does all of this mean for the Wolves?

By taking Williams, they would possess a jam of logs at the forward position. You’re (hopefully) not going to take minutes away from Kevin Love by trying to fit Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams into the lineup. With Randolph possessing some defensive skills that Beasley just doesn’t, it makes Michael the most expendable asset of the bunch. And ultimately, this is a good thing for Minnesota.

It would be easy to look at Beas’ scoring average this past season and get tricked into thinking you need to lock him up with a new contract. But that would ignore the ball-stopping frustration he brought to the offense most nights. Yes, he got his points, but at what cost to the overall team flow? This offense is supposed to be cemented in ball movement and player movement from reading where the defense isn’t. It shouldn’t be cemented into Beasley’s understanding that when he gets the ball, it’s supposed to become a projectile towards the rim every time.

With Williams, you won’t have to worry about that. He’ll move the ball and move without the ball even more. You can probably use him as a quicker option against most power forwards or stronger options against most small forwards. He’s a huge guy at about 6’9” and over 240 lbs. His size and athleticism could give the Wolves more options without the stagnation that Beasley’s versatility gives Minnesota.

Just because I’m not sold on Derrick Williams being a star from this draft class, certainly doesn’t mean Minnesota shouldn’t pick him. Unless you can bring in a legit veteran to bring this roster closer to the playoffs, I say continue to acquire assets that may be more valuable down the road.

Williams’ potential makes him an asset to hold for later trades AND an asset that could becoming something integral to the Wolves.

And he’s the only option at the second pick, which continues to give the Wolves so many more options with constructing this roster.

The Utah Jazz are on the clock.


Photo by Kevin Trotman

You should check out this hugely dorky but also kind of cool video about Derrick Williams’ three-point shooting. Under laboratory conditions and using a “high-tech basketball” we find that Williams catches and shoots in .8 of a second, which puts him in the company of deadeyes like Kevins Durant and Martin. We also find that his shot rotates at 2.3 revolutions per second, which is, we are told, very good. Science!

Also check out Stop-n-Pop’s exhaustive side-by-side analysis of Williams and college-aged Michael Beasley. Remembering that B-Eazy was an utter stat-producing colossus in his one year at Kansas State and was the consensus second pick in a strong draft, we should not be surprised that he outperformed Williams in most offensive categories (offensive efficiency, PER, winshare).

SnP does point out, however, that while Beasley was hugely superior from midrange, Williams is the much better three-point shooter (46-90 for his career compared to Beasley’s freshman year total of 36-95) and is much better at getting to the line (.58 ft’s/poss. for Williams vs. .4 for Beasley) than was Beasley in college. This is significant, of course, because shooting threes and getting to the line are hugely important to NBA success while the 16-23 foot jumper, Beasley’s specialty, is the least efficient way to score points.

The rub here is that much of Williams’ college success depended on him playing the four, where he has a quickness advantage on opposing defenders (whether he can defend NBA fours like Bosh, Dirk and Pau Gasol is another question). You may be aware that the Wolves already have a guy locked in at that spot. SnP boils the problem down to its pith and reveals why the Wolves have seemed so willing to trade the highest draft pick they’ve ever stumbled into:

Despite all of the virtual ink spilled here with Williams and Beasley, the big issue facing the Wolves should they draft the guy really has nothing to do with Senor Skittles. Instead, the “problem” is Kevin Love… If the Wolves draft Williams, they would a) have to gamble that he could play better than Beasley at the SF (and quickly, as Love isn’t going to wait around much longer) and b) that enough of his 3 point shooting and ability to get to the line will transfer to the NBA so that his overall performance eclipses that of B-Easy. The only other option is to move Love, either to the 5 or off the team.

 

Whether you believe or not the NBA Draft Lottery was rigged to screw the Wolves, ending up with the second pick might not be the worst thing that could have happened to them. In fact, I believe it’s the best thing that could have happened to David Kahn and Associates.

Grabbing the number one pick would have probably pigeonholed this front office with making the hilarious/meme-ish decision of whether or not they were going to draft another point guard. With Kyrie Irving as seemingly the only sure thing in this draft, it could have lead to Minnesota grabbing him and then jettisoning Ricky Rubio in a trade of certain desperation. It would have also meant that the first draft of David Kahn was officially marked down as one of the worst of all time (considering Flynn’s struggles and Wayne Ellington being the “best player from 4 first round picks).

Or if they passed on Irving because they believe in Rubio and his eventual residency in Minneapolis and Irving turned out to be the better point guard, Kahn would surely get buried over and over again for believing in an unknown prospect instead of the sure thing from Duke.

Kahn no longer has to worry about facing this dilemma. The Wolves have dropped to the second pick in the draft and will now have more options than dilemmas on their hands. Most likely, those three options are going to be drafting Derrick Williams, drafting Enes Kanter or trading the pick.

Let’s explore those three options.

Option 1: Drafting Derrick Williams

If you followed the NCAA Tournament at all this past March, you were probably served a heaping helping of everything Derrick Williams is capable of doing on a basketball court. He is a physically fit individual. He runs fast. He jumps high. He dunks hard. He shot the college 3-point ball extremely well. He has a wealth of NBA grocery list items.

He has unusual size for an NBA player. He’s not particularly big enough to be a traditional power forward and he’s not quite quick enough to be a traditional small forward. While we’ve begun the process of a positional revolution and transitioned into the idea of putting your best five guys out there to play, there is still some value in guys being able to fit into positions. Specifically, being able to defend certain positions in the NBA is still extremely important.

If you’re going to draft Derrick Williams and play him at the traditional or stretch-4, that means you’re probably going to have to slide Kevin Love to the 5 to have them on the court together. We don’t know if Williams is tall enough to really guard big power forwards in the NBA. He measured under 6’9”, which doesn’t make him short but it doesn’t make him big either. While Love has shown some pretty good production at the center position (great post at Hoopus), I’m skeptical to think it’s a great plan long-term to have Love as the center and put an undersized power forward next to him for defensive purposes.

Sliding Williams over to the small forward position, keeping Love at the 4 and trying to acquire a decent 5 (you know, assuming Darko doesn’t finally break through in year 9), could also prove to be a problem defensively. Derrick Williams is almost 250 lbs and while he carries it and moves well with that weight, I really have my doubts about his ability to consistently guard quicker small forwards in this league. The upside would be (if/when Rubio comes over) you could run a huge lineup of Rubio-Wes-Williams-Love-Center Not Named Darko. This would potentially be a really good lineup for the Wolves because they’d have a ton of size and length to make up for a lack of team quickness defensively. They could cover more area with their reach and hopefully deter a lot of offense by challenging shots on closeouts and keeping driving lanes clogged up.

That’s all assuming that they could play together defensively as a unit with Williams being too slow to consistently slow down SFs and hoping Love can continue to show some of the help awareness we saw in the second half of the year.

Offensively, Derrick has some good skills. If he can extend his range out to the NBA 3, it adds another shooter for this team. He can certainly attack the basket on the offensive boards, moves well without the ball and may have enough ball skills to get some scores in isolation. I don’t think his footwork is very good though. His steps can be slow and a bit sloppy. We might see a lot of travels before he puts the ball on the floor. He also seems a bit uncomfortable going left. The good thing is if he can get to the hoop, he’s so strong that he can bounce off of defenders, absorb the contact and finish at the rim. Put Williams on the block against small forwards and he’s going to overpower them. Everything is a bit awkward with his moves at the basket, but he has a good sense of gathering himself for the actual shot itself.

If the Wolves end up with Derrick, a lot of people will look at it as a plus draft. Personally, I’m not sold on him as a future star. But he would be an upgrade overall over Michael Beasley in the long-term. Yes, Beas showed some good scoring last season (albeit not that efficient) but I think Williams will give the team a better well-rounded player at the position, in case Beasley can’t put it together.

Option 2: Drafting Enes Kanter

This is a bit of a wild card.

Enes Kanter is the top big man in this draft, while being a complete unknown. I know this already sounds sketchy and maybe it is. However, if anyone in this draft was going to be worth the risk, it’s probably this guy. Kanter is a HUGE guy. He’s 6’11” and 260 lbs. His wingspan isn’t anything special compared to a lot of NBA centers but considering he’s only 19 years old, his size makes you think he could end up being one of the bigger, physical guys in the NBA. Not only is he a big guy, but he is also an extremely physical player.

Offensively, you instantly see Kanter fighting for deep position in the post. It’s a lot like what we saw from Pekovic on multiple occasions, except he’s less clumsy in the way he does it. Kanter gets low on the block, holds his position with good leverage and makes it as difficult as possible for the defender to get lower than him to cut off angles. Kanter has an array of strong moves on the block and is able to show good scoring touch around the hoop. He’s great about knocking defenders off balance on his moves by really getting into their chest.

Kanter also shows that he can extend his scoring out to the perimeter. His jumper is approaching the 3-point line with a lot of comfort and he has decent ball skills for a young guy his size. The nice thing about this versatility is he doesn’t really rely on it as the easy way out. He’d much rather mix it up inside, put pressure on the interior defense and dominate that way. He’ll keep the defense honest with the jumper, but he won’t use it as the primary weapon.

Defensively, this is where the water starts to get murky. He’s a fantastic rebounder. His physicality keeps him stuck to a man as soon as the shot goes up and he does a great job of controlling him in the boxout. The problem is Enes isn’t a great athlete. He’s not a horrible athlete but we don’t see a lot of elite movement and reaction time from him. Putting him next to Kevin Love could either work out stupendously because of the rebounding and size, or it could work out stupidly if they’re slow-footed and unable to rotate defensively.

The reason things seem so sketchy with Kanter is he’s fairly unknown. There hasn’t been a lot of game film on this guy because he hasn’t played a lot of basketball. He played pro basketball in Turkey as a young player, decided to come to the states to attend Kentucky and was ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of his time as a professional in Turkey. So he’s been hanging around Kentucky, going to school and doing some side workouts with the Kentucky staff.

Drafting Kanter is a risk because of the unknown, but since there isn’t a lot of sure-fire talent in this class, you’re probably not passing up on a future franchise player by rolling the dice with him.

Option 3: Trading the pick

This is where the train pulls out of Speculation Station and we are simply just guessing at what could be available.

There was the rumor of a Danny Granger deal that could include the #2 pick, Michael Beasley, Ricky Rubio, half of the Target Center, 2003 Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love’s offensive rebounding abilities and probably future cash considerations. All of this would be fine and good if we hadn’t seen Danny Granger play since the 2008-09 season.

There is also the thought that Josh Smith could be available from Atlanta. After he had such a rocky conference semi-finals against the Bulls, maybe you can trade the #2 pick and a young asset (Beasley?) for Smith and hope he becomes the good version of Josh Smith on a consistent basis.

There is the idea that the Wolves could trade this #2 pick to the Clippers to regain the rights to Minnesota’s own 2012 first round pick. Personally, I don’t see why the Clippers would ever make this deal. You’d have to throw in someone like Rubio to get it done, and I’m not sure that it makes this team any better. Even with next year’s draft class being stacked, I’m not sure this team can afford to wait essentially another 2 years at least to get some significant momentum in building this roster back up again.

This team has plenty of young assets to deal, and we all saw last year, especially in fourth quarters, that this squad needs some veteran leadership. If you could acquire a really good veteran for the #2 pick and cap relief, which would be ideal. But David Kahn isn’t really in the position to panic here because drafting a player at #2 and adding him to the stable of trade assets for down the road, could end up being the best move.

I think the Wolves should make a selection at #2 and see what they have with him. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming up, we don’t know what the team’s financial layout is going to be. They might end up being in one of the best situations with the bevy of cap space the team has. Or they might be no better off than a lot of young teams with low salaries because the entire playing field is leveled. We just don’t know yet.

Unless this team can get a steal by using the #2 and someone like Beasley or Randolph as something of value, I hope Kahn makes the pick and we get to see who in this roster should be kept long-term.

It’s good to have options.

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Well the draft lottery was hard to watch and not really because of any smoldering tension or desperate hope that the Wolves might land the number one pick. It was tough to watch the network’s attempts to manufacture suspense with their endless teasers and makeshift narratives; it was tough to watch the nervous, serious men; it was tough to watch Kevin Johnson and Gavin Maloof smile so big and wide; it was tough to watch David Kahn be pale and awkward; and it was tough to watch Dan Gilbert’s 14-year-old son be processed into a Story of Courage in The Face of Adversity right before our very eyes (although I guess you can’t really blame TV for indulging in all the manipulative heartwarmth; its what TV does).

Finally, it was a bit hard to stomach the manufactured optimism and the televised sheen of the whole thing. We Wolves’ fans know the truth. We know that for the majority of the teams on the podium, this lottery will not mean much at all.

Nonetheless, for a queezy, hilarious moment, it looked like the Wolves might find themselves with that number one pick after all and the unenviable task of having to do all of the following: 1) acquire a really good basketball player, 2) appease a Spanish teenager, possibly by 2a) trading the first pick in the draft while still 2b) not alienating their entire fan base and 3) avoiding showing the entire rest of the league all their cards. Given the team’s track record, I can’t say I was hopeful about this working out, but I was surely amused by the idea of watching them try.

Now, though, we’re face with a different situation. The second pick is a strange country, equally capable of producing Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Hasheem Thabeet. Derrick Williams, by all accounts a pretty good player (although I must confess that I have seen him play a total of one half of one game) appears to be close to the consensus choice. Of course, he does happen to play the same position as Kevin Love and B-Easy himself, depending on whom you ask. I will not pretend to have any clue what the Wolves will do, but I will say this: they desperately need to get a very, very good player out of it all. And I really don’t care who it is.