WW: Fixing the Pups Ch. 1
This is no one's opinion but my own so is it exactly how the process will unfold? Certainly not. The best I can hope for is to be partially right in the directions I think they should go but the names is will differ, at least after the refresher.
But to refresh, the Timberwolves will be down three key players from last season. Taj Gibson & Derrick Rose are the most impactful of the free agents but Jerryd Bayless proved to be an invaluable reserve as the injuries mounted. With Ryan Saunders getting the chance to fulfill what his father started and Gersson Rosas in charge of his first franchise it's going to be anyone's guess whether they even reach out to those three or any of the other players from last year. With both Point Guard & Power Forward/Center as the most thin positions on the roster, keeping any of the three would make sense but before free agency happens is tomorrow's draft.
The player I'm most intrigued by, that will go in the vicinity of the Timberwolves 11 is Jaxson Hayes from Texas. The odds of him being available at 11 are slim but I think he compares well with Jonathon Isaac and would make for a strong, young front court for the Wolves. If the front office agrees with that idea they will likely look to move up a couple spots.
In the event that all of the top bigs & ball handlers are gone at 11 then the Wolves should look to move down and acquire more currency. With all the money tied up in Towns, Wiggins, Teague & Dieng, I've been stumping for them to use more second round picks to help offset.
One name that has been thrown around a lot is Sekou Doumbouya. He's an international player with an upside that some think could be Pascal Siakam like. With what Siakam just did for the Raptors in the postseason, I would have no issue with having that sort of player on the roster except that small forward is well covered by the current collection of players. I would just as soon see more playing time for Okogie & Bates-Diop than to make that part of the roster even more crowded.
Another common name amongst the Wolves base is Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke. The positive that he would bring from day 1 is that he's an elite defender. Maybe that's enough to be a top 12 pick but a pick made to improve the defense would ideally also have a better ability from behind the line. Clarke attempted less than one 3 point shot per two games. So not a 3 & d player. Maybe the Wolves belief in their player development is so high right now that they think they could get him there. With the collective of the staff & front office being unproved, I'm not willing to buy that, yet.
So for me the first round comes down to Hayes or a trade down.
My second favorite prospect for the Wolves is Nickiel Alexander-Walker. He's more of a scorer than a distributor today but has the size & ability to be a steal at the guard position. The key would be trading down to just the right spot to grab him although if he worked out, maybe taking him at 11 would be ok. People would complain about it, but when does that not happen? If NA-W were the target, a trade down would make the most sense to maximize what I still hope is the last lottery pick for a few years!
As for the second round, the Timberwolves should find a way to be able to select at least twice. Jontay Porter would be the first played on that portion of the wish list regardless of the position addressed earlier. A close second would be Carsen Edwards. In some small way it would be as an attempt to make up for the Flynn fiasco but also as a punch of offense for the second unit. It would be a small back court but I think a tandem of Edwards & Jones would cause some problems off the bench. As for Porter, he would be a draft & develop play.
There will be players who prove themselves far beyond what anyone sees even this close to the draft. The first step for the Wolves is to fix the roster & return to the playoffs is to identify them then make it possible to select them. Plural because there will be multiple. Who I like or don't like right now is inconsequential when compared with the greater goal.
And there will be free agency.
A lot of talk has been about the Timberwolves bringing in D'Angelo Russell.
He had a breakout year on a surprising Nets team and seems to have put the Lakers drama behind him. He would also go a long way to fixing the guard position for the Timberwolves. And he's said to be good friends with KAT, which matters in today's NBA. The problem being that the Wolves are cash strapped for next season and to a lesser extent for the year after too. I don't hate the idea of Russell in Minnesota blue but can't help but find it funny that there had also been talk of RoCo & KAT being chums that has all but gone silent. Maybe because it no longer fits the narrative.
I'm fine with the star player having his bro's around as long as they do well on the court & help to keep each other in town longer. But there's still the issue of how it would be possible to sign him. Minnesota doesn't have much for tradable assets by which they could create the space. Maybe there is some Rob Brzezinski (Vikings cap wizard) type stuff that the Wolves could pull off, but until I've seen it happen I will remain skeptical. Fact is that I don't see the Pups acquiring any of the top free agents this year. Not unless they're able to unload some of the bloated contracts.
I thought to myself today that the Wolves could actually be in a worse positions then they presently are. How you may ask? They could have brought in the dual cancer's of Jimmy Butler & Kyrie Irving two years ago. Just considering how things unraveled with the one guy that they did trade for, I'm absolutely seeing the bright side of that non-decision.
But back to the point - how to fix the pups.
As I think I've already made clear, the draft is key. The type's of players they end Thursday with will speak volumes about the new team's operational strategy. Ultimately, it should be best player available with the ideal scenario being that each would also fill a need. Get two, three or four(!) of those kinds of players and then wade through the free agent pool on or after July 4th, approximately. With free agency set to start on the 30th, it may be a longer wait then Independence Day but that's a possible date for serious attention to start being paid to the Wolves in the frenzy. There are certainly some players that could help who played this past season for the type of money that the T-Wolves will be offering (Vince Carter anyone??).
It's a long process, about 30 years or so, but the key to fixing the squad lies heavily on the hours of Thursday evening. Until we know how that unfolds, it's just conjecture. While that's a lot of what blogging is, I'm going to take a little slower pace on it.
So until the next time,
enjoy your hump day
enjoy the draft