Timberwolves

Grading The Timberwolves' Offseason Moves Up To This Point

Photo Credit: Chris Nicoll (USA TODAY Sports)

Wowzas. Since we last chatted, a lot has happened for the Minnesota Timberwolves!

It turns out when you cram the draft and free agency in the same week, there’s a lot to digest.

My guess is that you probably feel better about the team than you did a week ago. Certainly, you feel better than you did at this time last season when the Wolves traded up to draft Darius Garland, only to have the Cleveland Cavaliers draft Garland unexpectedly (the Cavs had drafted Collin Sexton the season prior) with the pick before the Wolves. That left Minnesota with Jarrett Culver. A fine prospect, but one who didn’t live up to expectations as a rookie.

In the Timberwolves’ defense, Garland wasn’t great either.

That’s not here nor there, though. Let’s talk about what’s happened over the last week.

The Timberwolves are better than they were heading into last week, certainly. Enough to make a push into the playoffs? We’ll see.

Drafting Anthony Edwards First Overall

Grade: B+

It wasn’t a secret that I wanted the Wolves to trade down. I was hoping there would be some sort of bidding war between the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets to acquire James Wiseman, but the Hornets being just fine with LaMelo Ball threw a wrench into that. If Minnesota would have been able to acquire the third pick AND someone like Miles Bridges or P.J. Washington, that would have been absolute magic from Gersson Rosas and his staff.

Regardless, I’m not sure what Edwards’ ceiling is, but I would say his floor is higher than anyone else in this draft. He’s already got an NBA body and he fits in nicely with this roster. The Wolves couldn’t help that there wasn’t a Zion Williamson in this draft. Edwards isn’t Zion, but he is probably the best prospect in this draft.

Trading Pick No. 17, A 2024 2nd Rounder and James Johnson to Acquire Ricky Rubio and No. 28

Grade: A+

I thought this was the move of the night for any team in the draft. Rubio isn’t a top-10 point guard. He’s not the savior that we thought he’d be in 2009 when David Kahn drafted him fifth overall. But he’s a well-respected veteran who has made his teammates better throughout his career.

Plus, he’s a guy who has a great relationship with coach Ryan Saunders and star center Karl-Anthony Towns.

I don’t want to get too deep here, but these three will bond over loss and pain. All three lost a parent way too soon. As someone who has gone through that as well, it’s so good to talk to other people who have gone through similar experiences. Don’t sleep on how valuable that type of bond can be.

I’m so sick of the ‘being a good guy doesn’t mean he’s a good player.’ Yes, that’s true if I were to join an NBA team. I am a very bad basketball player. But getting a good person and a good player is a huge positive for any team, and Rubio is just that. I’ve been around plenty of teams with not-so-great guys, and it ends up being a giant dumpster fire.

Some have speculated that the Wolves will start Rubio alongside D’Angelo Russell. I don’t buy that. Will the two play with each other from time to time? Sure. But that’s not exactly uncommon in the NBA.

The Wolves had to give up James Johnson and the difference of 11 picks in the first round to get Rubio. It feels to me like Oklahoma City could have gotten more, but Timberwolves’ fans certainly aren’t complaining.

Drafting Jaden McDaniels 28th

Grade: A-

I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m a McDaniels expert, but the Wolves were able to get a player who many thought would be a top-20 pick at 28. Plus, he’s a position of need. That alone deserves a plus grade. If he doesn’t work out, well, not many 28th overall picks do.

McDaniels has a curse in front of him. The last impactful player taken 28th overall was Greivis Vasquez back in 2010.

The classic curse of 28. Bless his soul.

Trading Mathias Lessort and Detroit’s 2023 2nd Round Pick To New York, Drafting Leandro Bolmaro 23rd Overall

Grade: B

It sounds like Bolmaro will stay overseas for this season, but everyone thinks he’s a really smart player and that he’ll be impactful in the NBA. And guess what? He’s only 20 years old! A lot of times, these international players are 28 when they are drafted and scouts rant about how the player is “NBA ready!” Well, of course they are NBA ready. The problem, however, is that the player only has 3-4 years of positive impact in the league.

The Wolves have now proven they will open all doors to their roster. G League. Draft. Free agency. Trades. International players. Well done by Rosas and Co.

A pretty low-risk move. I would give this an A, but I feel like I’m being too generous with these picks. I’ve turned into the cranky substitute teacher.

Signing Malik Beasley To A Four-Year, $60 Million Deal

Grade: C-

Of all the moves, this is the one I’m not super-high on. Actually, as you can see from my grade, I’m quite low.

Beasley played well in his short stint with the Wolves last season, averaging 20 points per game while shooting 40-plus percent from the 3-point line. I guess the offseason incident is a little alarming to me. I get the argument that the Wolves know more than we do about Beasley’s situation is probably true, but it wouldn’t be the first time a team overpaid for a troubled young player that turned out to be a mistake.

Hopefully it’s just a blip on the radar and we forget this in a few years. But to pay $15 million a season for a guy who hasn’t played consistently well and who is coming off an offseason arrest seems like a mistake. Again, I hope I’m wrong.

If Minnesota was forced to pay more because there was so much interest in Beasley, wouldn’t that also open the door to a sign-and-trade possibility?

As far as Beasley’s fit on the team on the court, the Wolves are better with him than without him. But there are off-the-court red flags that are a little too concerning for me to like a contract like this.

Trading Omari Spellman, Jacob Evans and a 2nd Round Pick For Ed Davis

Grade: B+

Let’s say that Davis isn’t the positive impact player, especially defensively, for this team that we all expect. You’re still getting a stand-up guy who is beloved in the league. Plus, you’re getting rid of two players who probably weren’t going to play regardless, and you open up a roster spot in doing so. A very smart move.

Signing Juancho Hernangomez to a Three-Year, $21 Million Deal

Grade: B

I don’t mind this deal in a vacuum. But the whole reason the Timberwolves traded Dario Saric last year to trade up in the draft was that they thought he’d be too expensive to sign this offseason. Not only did the Wolves miss on the sixth pick (I’m not saying Culver is a bust, but you’d certainly much rather have Tyler Herro or Brandon Clarke), but they also misread the Saric situation. Saric just signed a three-year, $27 million deal to remain with the Suns. In my mind, Saric is certainly worth $2 million per season more than Hernangomez.

The Wolves still find themselves with a hole at power forward. Hernangomez is the favorite to start, but many hoped if Minnesota were to bring him back, it’d be in a back-up role.

Overall, the Wolves have had a very solid offseason. What does that mean in the bloodbath that is the Western Conference?

We’ll find out shortly.

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