The Minnesota Timberwolves have their choice of who they want in this year’s draft, and yet, it seems like there is nobody there who really intrigues them. This is a class where the player taken first overall is more likely to end up like Deandre Ayton or Markelle Fultz, rather than Zion Williamson or Ben Simmons.
“There’s no guy that has separated himself from the pack from public or external view,” Wolves president Gersson Rosas said recently, “but I’m very confident that as we go through this process, the talent will rise to the top and we’ll be confident about identifying one guy as the best guy, the best talented player with the most upside and most ability for our organization.”
Minnesota beat the odds to get the first pick, but this is probably a present they want to re-gift. Usually a team with a 19-45 record that needs a third star would clamor for this selection, but we all know this draft class isn’t supposed to be great. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it would be a heist if Rosas can move this pick and get value.
Rosas has proven to be aggressive, but we don’t know if he’s savvy yet. This would be savvy.
After the Tom Thibodeau reign, Rosas and Ryan Saunders have been welcomed here with open arms. Saunders is the son of Flip, of course, the beloved former coach. He embraces analytics, connects with his players and has the same mannerisms behind the bench as his late father.
I’m not sure what to think of Rosas yet, though. Nobody can fault him for dumping the roster he inherited, it was essentially the remnants of Thibodeau’s scorched-earth, win-now methods. But we don’t know if trading out of the 2021 draft to pair D’Angelo Russell with Karl-Anthony Towns was wise. Or if Malik Beasley has long-term upside. Or if he would have made the Dario Saric trade to get No. 6 if he knew the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to take Darius Garland.
The Wolves don’t need to land Devin Booker or Ben Simmons to justify moving the pick. They could just move down and take a player like Tyrese Haliburton, who seems to be a roster fit and is almost One of Us — he grew up in Oshkosh, Wisc., and played at Iowa State. Or maybe they take a swing at an international player like Killian Hayes (France) or Deni Avdija (Israel).
In a draft with this much uncertainty, move down and load up on picks. Ideally they’d be trading back into the first round of next year’s draft.
It appears that Rosas is open to moving down.
“For us, we typically study the draft from No. 1 to whatever number we feel like is a draftable player,” Rosas told ESPN. “And we’ll evaluate those guys for trade scenarios, trade back, trade out, for undrafted free-agent opportunities, for minor league opportunities, so we really beat up the draft board as much as can all the way up until the draft.”
Rosas should want to be Danny Ainge in the 2017 draft. Instead of keeping the No. 1 pick and taking Fultz, who became a bust, or Lonzo Ball, whose dad is a headache, he traded back to No. 3 and took Jayson Tatum — the only player from that class to make an All-Star Team.
In order to do so, Rosas will have to move the pick.