Oh my goodness gracious, you guys. It’s draft week!
Normally, we’re a month into the season in mid-November. Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of this. When we’re at more than 100,000 cases per day in the United States, it seems trivial to talk about sports. But here we are.
We’re entering what’s going to an incredibly exciting week in the NBA. Russell Westbrook is trying to get out of Houston. James Harden could go to the Brooklyn Nets? Dennis Schröder seems to be on his way to the Los Angeles Lakers.
We’ve talked about this before, but this is a weird draft. Let’s do our best to answer five questions for Timberwolves’ fans before Wednesday night:
Who I Would Take If The Wolves Keep Their No. 1 Pick?
What everyone wants to know. Who would Kyle Robert Ratke take with the first-overall pick?
Let’s say that the Minnesota Timberwolves keep the first pick. I would say the odds that this happens at 50/50.
If the Wolves like a player more than anyone else in this draft class, they should keep the first pick and not get cute. We can all agree on that. However, if they have the same grades for Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball or whoever else, trading down makes sense. We’ll get into that in a hot second here.
If I had to make a pick at this spot, I think I’d take Edwards. For a team that is kind of in ‘win now’ mode with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, I think Ball would be too much of a project to take on. The Wolves can’t take the risk that the player wouldn’t be ready to contribute for another three years when there’s a lot of pressure to convince Towns and Russell to want to build in Minnesota.
Edwards’ body is NBA ready, his 3-point form is very good and it’s a position of need for the Wolves. Last year’s No. 6 pick Jarrett Culver wasn’t impressive in his first season, and I think there’s a serious chance the Wolves don’t bring Malik Beasley back after he was arrested this offseason.
Of the three, I think Ball has the highest ceiling. He’s a better prospect than his brother, and his brother has turned into a pretty good player. Obviously, with the No. 1 pick, you’d like a can’t-miss guy, but this draft just doesn’t have that. I would say that that’s a very Timberwolvesy thing to happen, but it’s also worth noting that a team with Towns and Russell shouldn’t be in a position to have the first-overall pick in the first place. The Wolves are in a good place.
Trades I Like Involving The No. 1 Pick
Any trade that lands the Wolves a star is a good trade in my book.
If you’re able to get Devin Booker, Bradley Beal or Ben Simmons in a deal, that’s the best-case scenario. I think this situation is EXTREMELY unlikely, but a boy can dream. What would it take for the Wolves to make a trade like this? Probably the No. 1 pick, Culver, Josh Okogie, James Johnson and a 2022 first-round pick. That seems worth it to me. If you can get a third star to join Towns and Russell (calling these two stars seems like a reach to me, but you get it) that makes you a team positioned to fight for more than just a playoff spot in 2020-21.
The Timberwolves would be set to sell out every game in 2020-21! Unfortunately, there will probably not be any fans in the stands this year so again, not great timing for Minnesota.
The trade that is the most appealing to me is a trade with the Charlotte Hornets involving their No. 3 pick for the No. 1 pick. It’s been no secret that the Hornets are high on Wiseman and it appears as if Miles Bridges, the 12th pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, is available for trade.
It seems weird that a team that needs young talent is willing to trade young talent, but here we are. If the Wolves would be able to get the third pick and drafting whoever is left from the trio of Edwards, Wiseman, Ball or maybe someone like Deni Avidja or Tyrese Haliburton, AND BRIDGES, that seems like a no-brainer.
Bridges, who averaged 13 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 33% from deep last season, would fill a need for the Wolves at the power forward spot. Suddenly, the Wolves could have Bridges and Juancho Hernangomez, assuming the team brings him back as a restricted free agent, and the position could be viewed as one of strength for the team.
Plus, Bridges is more of a perimeter 4, which would fit well with how talented Towns is inside.
This is the move that I would be rooting for the most if I were a Timberwolves fan.
A Trade I Don’t Like
Any trade that involves the New York Knicks.
There have been no reports, even from the very reputable Scoop B, that a trade between the Wolves and Knicks is in the works . . . BUT . . . there has been some fan Twitter chatter that the Wolves could trade the first pick to the Knicks for either RJ Barrett or Mitchell Robinson.
Fan Twitter chatter is worthless, but it’s fun speculation and that’s what Twitter is for, along with arguing people about politics.
The Barrett move is a little more tempting to me, and I guess you could talk me into it if I had a few blackberry brandy shots. Barrett is a good young player who has succeeded at every level he’s played at.
As for Robinson, well, I’m not as bullish. Yes, the Wolves need a rim protector, but moving down seven spots for a guy who is only going to play 20 minutes per game seems silly to me. Robinson is a good young player, and I would love the Wolves to land him, but not for anything that includes the No. 1 pick.
Now, if you could get both Barrett and Robinson, well hot diggity, we might be onto something here. For some reason, though, I don’t see a Tom Thibodeau-led team trading two rotational players for a player with no NBA experience.
Should The Wolves Try To Get Into The Top-10?
It all depends on the price, of course. But if the Wolves are able to trade 17 and someone like Culver to get back into the top-10, that seems like a good trade to me. There are a lot of guys from 7-13 on the board who are pretty attractive prospects.
I also wouldn’t sleep on the Wolves packaging 17 and Culver for a veteran who can help now. Could the Wolves figure out how to get Aaron Gordon from Orlando? Are we sure Aaron Gordon is even good? I’m not sure.
List The Wolves Who Are Most Likely To Get Traded On Draft Night?
As far as I can see, there aren’t any odds released yet on whether the Timberwolves will make a trade on draft night. If those odds become available, I would hammer the YES big time.
We talked about a possible trade with the Hornets, which I think makes an incredible amount of sense for Minnesota. But what if there was a trade that involved a Timberwolves’ player? Who would be the most-likely player to be included?
Here are the four most-likely Timberwolves to get traded on draft night. This list doesn’t include players like Omari Spellman or Jacob Evans, who aren’t really significant to Minnesota’s long-term plan regardless.
I think Culver will have a solid career, but if the Wolves end up drafting Edwards and they plan on bringing back Beasley, that doesn’t leave much room for Culver at all. I think there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be dealt on draft night.
If the Timberwolves do trade for a star, a deal will almost have to include Johnson’s $16 million contract.
Okogie is a pretty attractive asset for a contender. That would make you wonder why the Wolves, a team trying to make the playoffs, would deal him. But if there is a team that hopes to contend for a championship in 2020-21, Okogie would be a great option off the bench as a defensive energy guy. The only way I think Minnesota does this if is another team like the L.A. Lakers or Clippers (or another team that plans to have a late-round pick) deals a 2021 first-round pick. Remember, that is supposed to be a loaded class and Minnesota’s pick went to the Golden State Warriors in the Russell/Andrew Wiggins trade.
This might be a more realistic trade option at the trade deadline, though.
If the Wolves are trying to trade back up in the first round from 17, Layman could be an attractive piece for his team. Mostly because his $3.7 million salary from 2020-21 is a complete bargain.
That’s all I’ve got today. Only a few days away from wondering if the Timberwolves made a really bad decision that we’ll all be very sad about in 10 years.