The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t get lucky in the NBA Draft lottery this year, remaining in the same number nine position that they were slotted for prior to the lottery. Although they don’t have a top-five pick, the Timberwolves can still land a player that can help them immediately, and should target Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum.
Minnesota struggled to score from the perimeter all season after their plan to have Brandon Roy fill their void at shooting guard backfired when Roy was lost for the season with knee injuries, possibly ending his career for good. The Timberwolves were forced to turn to point guard by trade Luke Ridnour at the two guard position, with mixed results.
The Timberwolves finished near the bottom of the NBA in three-point shooting last season, ranking 28th in the league in threes made and an even worse 30th in three-point percentage (.305) so they can use help on the wing as much as any team in the NBA.
McCollum is the type of combo guard that step in and contribute immediately for the Timberwolves. The 6’3″ scorer is capable of creating his own shot off the dribble, knocking down spot-up jumpers and scoring in transition, as evidenced by his career scoring average of 21.3 points per game after four years at Lehigh.
Even though McCollum played at a mid-major, Minnesota can look at the success of the Portland Trail Blazer‘s Damian Lillard as an example of a small conference player being able to perform well in the NBA.
Drafting McCollum — who on paper appears to be a great compliment to Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio — would be a great way for new GM Flip Saunders to begin his tenure with the Timberwolves. Despite being just 6’3″, McCollum’s height defensively won’t be in issue as the 21-year old sports a 6’6″ wingspan, and the 6’4″ Rubio can defend bigger guards if needed.
The Timberwolves haven’t reached the postseason is almost a decade while searching for the right combination of players to be competitive, but selecting a guard of McCollum’s caliber would be a definite step in the right direction.