For as long as I can remember the NBA Draft night has been one of my favorite days of the year. While that may be kind of sad, and a sign of how bad things with the Wolves have been the past two decades, I enjoy it for more than just the development of T-pups. I have always been an NBA person and I love watching young players, and teams, develop and grow in front of our eyes. So it’s no surprise that I would love an event that puts those elements of pro-ball in the spotlight.
But I digress, you are probably wondering what’s going to go down this evening! I don’t blame you! It’s been one of the more confusing drafts in recent memory. A big reason for this, and common knock on this draft, is the lack of superstar talent in this draft class. While there aren’t any franchise changing players in this draft I do view this draft as deep. Sure the first 8 picks are about equal but there are also a number of viable players capable of being quality role players through the rest of the first round and into the second. Long story short every team should be able to get someone that can help them next year. Maybe not someone to be the star of your roster but a player or two who can contribute with at least one or two viable skills. You just need to focus more on what a player CAN do rather what they cant. And with that in mind, let’s look at some of the players! By now most people know who these players so I will give a quick opinion for each: Potential, Current Production, How we could get them/should we
Victor Oladipo: Great defensive player, very athletic. Motor runs hot and shows great drive to improve. Not afraid to do the dirty work. Limited offensive game at the moment with signs of an improved jumper. Worst case scenario he is Tony Allen with a better jump shot. The Wade comparisons are ludicrous but he is arguably the safest picks in the draft in that even if he doesn’t improve greatly he already is good enough to be a valuable asset to a winning team. He will be selected with one of the top 3 picks. He’d be a great pick for the Wolves but I’m he is worth what we’d have to give up to acquire him (9, 26, and D-Will). If we could get him for just D-Will and the 26th? Well, then I’m listening.
Ben McLemore: One of the top two wings in this draft with Oladipo, McLemore is a a freak athlete and one of the best shooters in this draft. While he needs to work on his dribble and asserting himself he would be able to help the Wolves immediately by spacing the floor with his shooting and providing a fast break partner to Rubio. McLemore is also an underrated defender and could end up being one of the premier 2 guards in the league if he reaches his potential. There have been talks of him sliding in the past couple days to the 5th or 6th pick. While I don’t want to trade the 9, 26 and D-Will for anyone if him or Oldadipo slide to the 5th or beyond I’d say we should try and trade up.
Otto Porter: Great glue guy with potential to be a fantastic third option. On one level it would make great sense to bring him in and have Kirilenko mentor him to take over the starting spot next year. Porter will go top 3 and while a good player not who we should target if we do move up.
C.J. McCollum: Not sure what to think of McCollum. A lot of people compare him to Lillard but I feel that is a lazy comparison. McCollum is an undersized two. Sure, he has a good enough handle to play the point but that’s not who he is. With Rubio’s height the two could co-exist in the back court and his ability to shoot and get to the line would be a nice addition to this team. He isn’t however a great defender and would have trouble keeping up with many of the point guards in this league, which is who he’d be forced to guard. He should be available when the Wolves pick at 9 and is a legitimate option. Ultimately though I think we’d be better off getting someone with more size who can better defend his position.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Has good size for a 2, can stroke it, an underated defender, good rebounder and is not afraid of being an aggressor on offense. Sound good? Yep! That’s why most mock drafts have had us selecting Pope. He isn’t quite the shooter that McLemore is and not quite the defender that Oladipo is. Plus, while athletic, isn’t in the same conversation as the two aforementioned top wings. That being said, Pope is a bit of a blend of the two and should be available for the wolves at 9. He would come in and start immediately (or win the job over before the all star break) and would be a large upgrade over what we currently have. While a decent ball handler he is primarily a jump shooter who doesn’t look to drive or get to the line that often. Additionally, as a function of playing on a bad team at Georgia, he has shown signs of poor shot selection and decision making. Given more talent around him this might not be a problem but it is something to consider. I view him as a less athletic J.R. Smith without the character issues.
Shabazz Muhammad: A strong 2/3 wing with good length and decent athleticism, Muhammad is a crafty lefty who should be able to come in and score from day one. He is a decent spot up shooter and can bang down low but in general has a long way to go in terms of ball handing and creating his own offense off the dribble. He’s a little slow to guard 2’s and a little small to guard 3’s so there is some question as to what position he’s best suited for. While over-hyped coming into college I’m confident he will make for a pretty good player in the league. I think 9 is a little high for him compared to where most have him slotted but if we were to try and move up from 26 into the mid teens he might still be available and at that point he’d be a great value.
All of these players are role players. That doesn’t mean they can’t be starters for a team or valuable pieces to a winning team, they just won’t be a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd option. You could do a lot worse though than finding a guy who can space the floor and take on the opposing team’s best wing player:
- Reggie Bullock: 3 & D
- Tim Hardaway Jr: 3 & D
- Allen Crabbe: 3 point (D?)
- Tony Snell: 3 & D
Jamaal Franklin: Jack of all trades glue guy. Great athlete, very long, good rebounder and defender, solid passer and decent scorer. Has a broken jump shot. A popular comparison has been a shorter K Leonard. If this team wasn’t so desperate for shooting I’d champion his cause a lot more. Until he fixes his jumper he will be a role player but will make up for that limitation by stuffing every other stat sheet category in the mean time.
Ricky Ledo: Wild card pick with 26th, rolling the dice on potential. Hard to know much about him since he didn’t play last year but was a highly touted guard coming out of HS. If his off the court issues can be sorted out he could be a steal at 26 assuming he reaches his potential.
Nate Walters: 2nd round pick guy I love. Will go too early in the second for where we are currently selecting but I think he’ll be a lot better than people think. A crafty scorer and underrated shooter, I believe he could be a very similar player to Shved with more scoring upside. He’d be provide great depth for the 1/2 and would be able to fill a number of roles depending on what the team needed. No, he’s not a defensive ace but he won’t be any worse than Luke last year either.
There is part of me that is tempted to go big at 9 and get one of the 3&D players I mentioned above.
Alex Len: Athletic big man with defensive potential and decent skill level. Will likely be selected before the wolves go at #9. Arguably one of the highest ceiling players in the draft. Could be a monster running the pick and roll or running the break with Rubio and would be able to protect Love’s shortcomings as a defender. Much more polished offensively than Adams.
Anthony Bennett: Think what D-Will was expected to be but a better ball handler and better rebounder and you have Bennett. I think he’ll be really good but I also don’t see how he fits this team. Ultimately I don’t think it will matter since he will be picked before #9 and I don’t see us moving up int he draft to grab a player that doesn’t fill a need. And yes, he is a 4 and not a 3. Whoever says otherwise is kidding themselves. His conditioning could be a problem if he doesn’t get on top of it soon.
Steven Adams: Athletic project. He already will be a good defender off the bench with ability to get garbage baskets and protect the rim. Terrible FT shooter. Classic athletic project big. Rim protector with the hope that his athleticism carries over to develop some semblance of an offensive game.
Cody Zeller: Went from being overrated to underrated. Very fast and quick big man with better hops than given credit for. Great hands. While not a dominant low block scorer has shown the ability to knock down shots from midrange with the potential of moving to out to the 3 point line. Active pick and roll defending and energy guy. Not particularly long. Primary position figures to be more of a 4 than a 5 but with enough size to play center part of the time. Would create a great big man rotation with Love and Pek if selected. Put Zeller, Love, Kirilenko and Budinger/a 3&D guy from the 26th pick and watch Rubio serve it up with the best shooting front court in the league.
Mike Muscala: 2nd round pick big that I love. Will go too early in the second for where we are currently selecting but I think he’ll be a lot better than people think. Very skilled on the block. Has a series of offensive moves and can finish with either hand as well as step out and hit from outside. Big men don’t come this polished on offense that often and he is being knocked for the conference he is in. Highly efficient, I believe he can bulk up some and be a valuable front court scorer off the bench at the very least.
What do I think/hope we do?
If we can move up to get either Oladipo or McLemore w/o giving up D-Will the 9 & 26th then I say we should. Both are high upside at a position of need and should be able to contribute from day 1. If we can’t do that I would consider sticking with Pope as the pick at 9. While I wouldn’t be thrilled I could see Muhammad becoming a good enough player to warrant the pick as well though I’d rather get him by moving up with the 26th than using the 9th.
I wouldn’t be opposed to going big at 9 if Len or Zeller are there and then went with a wing at 26 either. Additionally, like I mentioned above, if we could move up to the top of the 2nd or move from the 26th to say the 16th I think those could be some high value spots as well. In the end though, I’m just excited to see how this all turns out and am happy that Kahn isn’t running the draft room this time around!
Here’s to a fun draft, quality picks, and a successful (and healthy) 2013/2014 Wolves campaign!!