Football is back! NBA playoff basketball in the bubble is awesome, and we’re nearing the start of the MLB and WNBA postseason.
For Minnesota Timberwolves’ fans, we’ll get to see Jimmy Butler try to lead the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals. Most Timberwolves’ fans can’t stand Butler at all and that’s 100% understandable. The guy forced his way out of Minnesota. He acted childish. It’s the old “don’t give me any praise but also PAY ATTENTION TO ME!” trick we see from athletes who crave the spotlight. That’s Jimmy’s playbook: Half of the “Jimmy works hard!” stories that leak out are pretty easy to trace.
With that being said, it’s hard to argue with the fact that Butler is a top-12 player and could be the best player on a team in the NBA Finals.
What if the Wolves had decided to trade Karl-Anthony Towns and/or Andrew Wiggins instead of Butler? What if the team decided to build the team around him entirely? At the time, that seemed crazy. Now? Not so much. What would a team with Butler leading the way look like in Minnesota?
It’s a fun and depressing thought exercise.
Let’s get to the topics of the week.
NBA Draft Postponed
As we speculated in last week’s column, the NBA Draft will indeed be postponed to Nov. 18 while the 2020-21 NBA season won’t start before Christmas. My guess is that the season will start sometime in February, but we’ll get more clarity in the coming weeks.
It’s gonna be weird having the NBA Draft a week before Thanksgiving, but that’s kind of where we’re at.
Or, will the Timberwolves do something crazy and trade the No. 1 pick?
Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas has already made the rounds of “we are keeping all options open!” that we see from every team in the league as we approach the draft. It’s one of my favorite lines that we fall for year after year. Articles are written. Tweets are sent. And it’s so silly. Of course the team is keeping all options open! That’s how the job works.
What is he supposed to say?
“We are absolutely going to trade the pick?”
While that would be entertaining, leaving all options open is what his job is.
Wolves On The Run?
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Indiana Pacers are considering Timberwolves assistant coach David Vanterpool for their head-coaching vacancy. I’d imagine that Vanterpool will also get looked at in New Orleans and Oklahoma City as they try to find their next coach.
We can talk about schemes, but more than anything, Vanterpool is a guy who is beloved by his players. Both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum praised Vanterpool after he left Portland for Minnesota. As we saw with the Steve Nash hiring in Brooklyn, relationships with players means more than X’s and O’s.
If Vanterpool was hired by another team, that would be a huge hit for the Wolves. I won’t get into the “would Vanterpool be a good head coach for the Timberwolves?” talk too much, but there’s a reason why those questions pop up. Vanterpool is a well-respected coach in the league.
Shams Charania has also reported that Timberwolves executive vice president Sachin Gupta is a finalist for the Sacramento Kings head of basketball vacancy. Gupta, the man who developed the trade machine(!), would bring an analytics mind to the opening in Sacramento. It would be the opposite approach of their last hire, Vlade Divac.
With the draft and the offseason being pushed back, it could be a while before either of these openings are filled.
We’ll keep you updated.
Mock Draft Madness
Who should the Timberwolves take with the first pick?
I lean towards Ball or Wiseman, but it seems the consensus around experts is that the team should take Edwards.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has a great draft mind and does plenty of research when it comes to prospects. In his latest mock draft, he has the Wolves taking Edwards with the first overall pick. However, O’Connor has Killian Hayes, a guard from France, as his No. 1 prospect.
I’m of the belief that the Wolves should take the best player available. That seems silly to say, and should be obvious, but this is a weird draft. There’s no clear-cut No. 1 pick. And teams taking the best fit over the best player isn’t that unusual.
Think about in 2018 when the Suns took Deandre Ayton at No. 1 and the Kings took Marvin Bagley at No. 2. The basketball consensus was that Luka Doncic was the better player, but both teams needed a big man. Even at the time, the logic was incredibly flawed.
I’m not sure who the best player in the draft will be, but in post-draft interviews, that should be the catchphrase that Rosas uses time after time in his media availability.
When it comes to players who could be franchise-altering players, you draft them and figure everything else out later.
We’ll be creative with our content over the next few months considering there’s not a whole lot to discuss about the Wolves. Maybe a mailbag next week followed by a mock draft the week after.
Talk to you soon.