Timberwolves

3 Players the Timberwolves Could Draft 17th Overall

Photo credit: Joshua S. Kelly (USA TODAY Sports)

The talk heading into the NBA Draft for Minnesota Timberwolves’ fans will be who they will take, or what they will do, with the No. 1 pick.

We’ll go more into that over the next month. There will be plenty of time for chatter now that the season is over.

Quick tangent: The NBA did such an excellent job with their bubble in Orlando. Seriously. I thought it was going to be an absolute disaster, and it ended up being what should be a case study for those trying to create a similar atmosphere. With that being said, with how the NFL season is going, you really have to wonder what the NBA will do for the 2020-21 season. It seems impossible to do another bubble given the length of the season, but it also seems nearly impossible to avoid positive tests unless the players and their families are willing to make a huge sacrifice throughout the winter and just stay home. I’m not sure what the answer is. Maybe there will be a vaccine by whenever the season starts, but it has to be a real concern for teams heading into the winter. It seems almost impossible teams will be having fans during the winter months.

Back to the 2020 NBA Draft. We don’t know who the Wolves will draft at that spot, or if they’ll even keep it. I think it’s unlikely they keep the first and the 17th picks, but if they do, here are three players to keep an eye on:

Josh Green, G, Arizona

If the Wolves bring back Malik Beasley, they will have Beasley, Josh Okogie and last year’s No. 6 pick Jarrett Culver at shooting guard. Picking Green would certainly make this group crowded, but it’s not like either of three have really proven themselves in the NBA. This isn’t exactly an embarrassment of riches.

Green is 6’6″ and a defensive-minded player. A lazy comparison is to compare Green and last year’s 20th pick, Matisse Thybulle. On the surface, they are similarly both very good defenders and solid 3-point shooters.

Green is athletic and is a versatile defender. This move might double-down on the strengths of Okogie and Culver, two players who are solid defensively but have limitations offensively.

Green shot 36.1% from the 3-point line as a freshman at Arizona, but his form is a little funky and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to keep that up with the 3-point line moving back at the NBA level. He’s also super-athletic, but isn’t great at finishing inside. Green has a feel for the game that some players don’t have, though, so even with all of that I’m pretty optimistic that he’ll develop into a positive contributor offensively. He’s only 19 years old and he’s already built like a five-year veteran.

If the Wolves end up with Green at 17, there’s certainly a lot to like.

Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

There’s a good chance that Williams is gone by the time the Wolves are up at 17th. This draft seems so unpredictable compared to every other draft I’ve covered, so it’s hard to tell, and not having a combine doesn’t help.  Maybe things will start to take shape more in the next month.

Williams is a 6’8″ combo forward who can do a little bit of everything offensively. He’s a very good pick and role player who can either pick or pop. He only shot 33.3% from the 3-point line in his only season at Florida State, but just from the way Williams plays, I’d bet that continues to extend his range at the next level.

Williams is also a very smart cutter. He knows when to slide into an open zone. He’s a very good passer from the forward position.

He’s not going to force anything offensively that isn’t there. Obviously that could change when the game speeds up. Defensively, he might be limited to just guarding power forwards.

He’s such a good fit for Minnesota because of his ability to do a little bit of everything. He plays really good off-ball defense and does all of the little things on both ends. With players like Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, that extra effort defensively is really needed for the Timberwolves. That’s something that someone like Williams, along with Green who we just talked about, can bring.

Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

Smith is a 6’10″ power forward. At the pro level, he’ll be a forward/center combo given his height, but he’ll need to add some strength if he wants to bang with the bigs of the NBA.

Offensively, Smith is really good at rolling to the basket, and I’d be surprised if his 37% from the 3-point line doesn’t eventually translate to the next level. Smith has a really nice offensive game.

He’s not the best defender, but he averaged 2.4 blocks in 31 minutes per game — that’s something.

Smith is a fun fit for Minnesota’s second unit given his scoring ability and his ability to run the floor. He might be limited in some aspects like posting up and facing up, but he fits really nicely with Ryan Saunders’ fast-paced offense.

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Photo credit: Joshua S. Kelly (USA TODAY Sports)

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