Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why Wolves Fans Don't Need to Stress the Draft

As you may know, the NBA draft is set to take place tomorrow night. Though, with all of the trades and speculation that have taken place this week, one might think that, instead, tomorrow is the trade deadline. Nope. Sources are saying it is, in fact, the draft.

I have a lot of thoughts about the draft. I mean, a lot. I was thinking about running through various scenarios for your future-NBA-champion Minnesota Timberwolves, but I've thought up a lot of scenarios and I think I'd still be writing this by the time the draft is over. I'm not sure how to compose this, so I think I'm just gonna go for it and see what happens. Before I dive on in, though, it should be noted that I'm not going to be speculating on who the Wolves will draft (or trade) based on any inside information. I do not have "sources," outside of Twitter, which, let's be honest, doesn't really count.

First, here's why there's no need for us Wolves faithful to worry: I think, if they keep the pick (which is far from guaranteed), the worst realistic scenario is that they take Lauri Markkanen. Now, to be clear, this isn't a great scenario by any means, and is the worst case scenario for good reason. However, what's the one thing the Wolves need? Er, defense, yeah, but what's the other one thing the Wolves need? Okay, yeah, probably a proven veteran player to provide leadership and also quality minutes. What's the other, other one thing the Wolves need? Shooting! Yes! And what's the one thing Markkanen can do? Yes - shoot! That one was much easier. He does fill a need, but in the draft, sometimes drafting for a need is a dangerous game. Markkanen, I think, has a floor of Andrea Bargnani, which is a pretty low floor, for sure. I think a more accurate comparison, though, is kind of a Channing Frye/Ryan Anderson type guy who's tall and knocks down threes and doesn't do much else, which is pretty "meh," but I'd take a guy like that coming off the bench. Unfortunately, I think this is the most likely scenario for the Wolves, but again, it's not a terrible worst-case scenario as far as worst-case scenarios go.

A much better and only slightly less likely scenario that also fills the need of a shooter would be Malik Monk. Monk would be a little redundant with Zach LaVine on the roster, but he definitely would help with bench scoring. I wouldn't count on him to carry the load off the bench as a rookie, but when the Wolves are ready to contend in a few years, he'd be a great piece who would at least keep the Wolves in games while the starters rest. Monk can score with ease and, I think, much like former Kentucky great/current Timberwolves great, Karl-Anthony Towns, was fitting into a role at Kentucky rather than being able to "be himself." This is scenario 1a. for me; I would be ecstatic with Monk

Scenario 1, of course, is Jonathan Isaac. Isaac is a raw prospect, but would still be able to contribute a bit as a rookie. He's a defensive-minded big who can shoot threes, which sounds fantastic to me. Isaac to the Wolves would be a perfect match, as he would provide much needed support for the defense, as well as being able to help out with the shooting issues, though I don't think I'd exactly call him a sharpshooter. For Isaac, Minnesota would be a great landing spot because he would not need to take on a large role right away, and even when he was ready to take on a large(r) role, he would be the secondary big man on the team.

Now, this is all provided they keep the pick. If they don't keep the pick, the worst-case scenario would be trading it for a turd, like former Laker great, Sasha Vujacic (how long has Vujacic been out of the league? That's how long the NBA has been great). Of course, the best-case scenario would be packaging it to get Kristaps Porzingis. Another, more realistic option, of course, would be to trade down. Trading up, technically, is also an option, but I really don't anticipate that happening. If the Wolves were to trade down, I think a great target would be OG Anunoby, an even more defensive-minded big than Isaac, minus all the offensive skills. According to wikipedia, OG has an eight-freaking-foot wingspan, which is just...Jesus...eight feet, huh? I'm not sure how accurate that is, but I'd take him just because he might have something close to an eight foot wingspan. Another trade-down target could be Gonzaga big man, Zach Collins. That'd be...okay. I wouldn't get excited about it, and, actually, would be a little disappointed. Collins is kind of a jack-of-all trades, master of none type of big guy. He'd be a safe pick and a solid rotational big, which, like Markkanen, is definitely not a terrible option. I would prefer Collins to Markkanen, just for the record.

I'm not even going to throw out any trades that the Wolves might make, because my only NBA trading experience is on 2k, and I can hardly throw together a trade that's accepted on there. I will say that Ricky Rubio is my favorite player, and I'd hate to see him go. But, if he were to be part of a package that would net Jimmy Butler or, dare I say, Kristaps Porzingis, and then the Wolves go ahead and sign a Jeff Teague/George Hill/Jrue Holiday (though maybe not Jrue because if he gets injured one more time he'll get put down; I'm pretty sure that's how that works), as they are rumored to be exploring, well, I think I just might be fine with that. However, I really don't think the Wolves will be adding a star.

Whatever happens, even if it's taking Markkanen or trading Rubio for not-Butler or not-Porzingis, we'll still have free agency to look forward to, as this is going to be the most pivotal off-season in franchise history. But, hey, no pressure.

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