For the second time in franchise history, the Timberwolves have claimed the first overall pick via the NBA Draft Lottery. Minnesotans were bracing themselves for the worst case scenario and were ready to claim that the lottery was rigged once the Warriors claimed that first pick, but were shocked when the Golden Gate Bridge popped up on the screen as 2nd overall.
While I do fully believe in the frozen envelope theory from the 1985 draft (NBA was hemorrhaging money, Patrick Ewing was a no-brainer first overall pick who was one of the most dominant college players at Georgetown, and the Knicks, the biggest market, needed the local star to hopefully jolt the NBA), those days are long gone with the NBA’s health in tact and Adam Silver at the helm.
For those complaining that the Wolves never move up in the draft, you do have to realize how the NBA lottery works. The Wolves only had a 14% chance for the first overall pick, equal to that of the 1st and 3rd teams. With the way that the top pick is determined, the Wolves had a 52.1% chance of staying in the top four, meaning it was almost a coin-flip’s chance to fall out of the top four, let alone wasn’t reasonable to expect to get the first overall pick.
But now that they have it, what are they going to do with it? While the draft has no obvious first overall picks like when Minnesota drafted Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015, there are certainly some talented prospects in the pool. More popularly, fans seem to want Gersson Rosas to continue his aggressive nature and trade the pick for a veteran difference maker.
What trades are realistic? One of the most popular ideas being thrown around is to trade for the Suns superstar Devin Booker. This was mostly based on two things. First, it has long been public that Towns, Wolves point guard D’Angelo Russell and Booker want to play together at some point. With the Wolves having two of the three, it seems like a good fit. Second, the Suns have been awful in Booker’s time in Phoenix. That is until the recent bubble games, where Booker played outstanding and led the Suns to an 8-0 record.
Simply put, Devin Booker is too good and the Suns have no incentive to trade him. The only way it might happen is if he explicitly says “I’m not playing another game here. Trade me to Minnesota.” And even then, it might not happen.
Another option being thrown out there has been Ben Simmons, due to the 76’ers lack of success with Joel Embiid and Simmons together. Most basketball minds are convinced that those two superstars simply cannot win a championship together and that Philadelphia is going to have to pick one.
However, again, the likelihood that the Wolves can put together a package that meets the 76’ers win-now mindset without a third team being involved is minimal. Even if there is a third team, there will be many moving parts making it an incredibly complex and unlikely scenario.
There aren’t currently many other B-list stars that seem to be available, making trading the first overall pick for a high impact player difficult to do. That leaves the Wolves with the option of drafting someone.
There are pretty much three players that appear to be at the top of this draft class, with a lot of disagreement about which one has the brightest future. The three are Anthony Edwards, a shooting guard from Georgia, LaMelo Ball, a controversial point guard, and James Wiseman, the center who played two games at Memphis. I personally will throw out Ball as an option. I don’t want to deal with that headache.
That leaves Minnesota with two options and I’m not sure which fit is better. If the Wolves want to play like the Rockets and hoist 3-pointers and go cruise control on defense, Edwards is the guy. Edwards is an explosive perimeter player who likes to have the ball in his hands and take plenty of shots. Put him with Russell and Towns and the game will look like a track meet.
Inversely, the Wolves could go a different direction with the 7’1” center. Towns historically has struggled as a rim protector and Wiseman could be a great athletic option to pair alongside KAT to help stabilize the defense. Wiseman has a great post game and is a decent shooter from outside and due to his athleticism, should be able to play in a switching defensive scheme. However, scouts question his ability to give consistent effort, which usually isn’t a great sign.
Regardless, it is going to be interesting to see what Gersson Rosas has planned for the future of this franchise. This draft will have a large hand in determining the future success of the Russell and Towns core. On the bright side, I don’t think it can go as poorly as the last time the Golden State Warriors picked after the Timberwolves…