With the NBA Draft just a week away, the Minnesota Timberwolves have plenty of holes to fill. They’re in the tough spot of having a talented roster that simply hasn’t had what it takes to be competitive in the Western Conference. Oh yeah, they also have a new – old? – head coach in Flip Saunders, and a superstar forward in Kevin Love, who could be gone at any moment.
On the plus side, with four picks scheduled, that’s plenty of room to make the moves that will get the team back on the road to relevancy. If the Wolves move Love but don’t get his replacement in the deal, then they’ll have their pick of power forwards at 13, where they should be targeting Adreian Payne of Michigan State. Payne is a solid fit for that “point forward” type of position and would free up court space for guys like Shabazz Muhammad to grow.
If the Wolves get someone to fill Love’s spot, like David Lee in a rumored deal with the Golden State Warriors, then Creighton’s Doug McDermott could step in and provide a spark at both ends from the three.
There’s a big drop from 13 to 40, and in the second round, guards will be the main focus. If Shabazz Napier’s performance in the NCAA tournament doesn’t get him picked the first round, then he would be the steal of the draft in the early second. The biggest concern with Ricky Rubio right now is his scoring, and Napier would bring a great touch, and could eventually grow into a star.
At 44, the Wolves should be looking for a guy like C.J. Wilcox out of Washington at the shooting guard spot. At 6-foot-5, Wilcox is a consistent scorer with the type of defensive reach that will make him effective late in games. He’s got plenty of room to grow, but the talent to make an impact right away.
With their final pick, the team needs to target a smart role player like Dwight Powell. The big man was a first-team All Pac-12 selection with the Stanford Cardinal last season, and he’s got an excellent passing touch for a guy who stands 6-foot-11. He can play as either a power forward or center, giving the team plenty of flexibility in their lineup selections.
This draft is obviously important for the team’s immediate future, but it’s also the first step in getting out from the weight of the failures of the David Kahn administration.