Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves Mailbag: They've Got the No. 1 Pick. What's Next?

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas (USA TODAY Sports)

It’s mailbag time!

With the Minnesota Timberwolves landing the first pick in the lottery last week, we figured it’d be a good time to debut the Kyle Ratke NBA/Timberwolves/Zone Coverage/Sports! Mailbag. We are still working on the name. Let us know if you’d like to sponsor.

Let’s get onto the questions!

Biggest one, who to pick with the #1? What other possibilities instead of keeping it  – @kuba_lakomy

We’re starting out hot and heavy!

We’re a month out from the draft and the three players most experts have pegged as choices for the first pick are LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman. Out of the group, I think Ball has the highest ceiling and fits what the Wolves are trying to do the most.

If the Wolves had Steph Curry (we know, we know . . . ) and Klay Thompson already with a giant hole at center, Wiseman would make sense. If the Wolves think Wiseman is the best player in the draft, they should take him and figure the rest out later. In a draft with no clear-cut No. 1 player, you don’t want to end up like the Cavaliers in 2013.

As for Edwards. Man. I have a tough time convincing myself he’s going to be really good in the NBA. Maybe he’ll be solid, but why isn’t anyone talking about how he shot 40% from the field and 29% from the 3-point line last season?

I get it. He’s 19. He looks like he should be really good. But guess what?! We just found out after six seasons of Andrew Wiggins that just because you look like you should be good, doesn’t mean you will be good. And who is Edwards compared most to heading into the draft? Andrew Wiggins! Aren’t there enough red flags here?

I would feel much more comfortable if he were the fifth or sixth pick rather than a top-3 pick.

The other option is trading the pick. That’s been the buzz among Wolves’ fans. Talk is mostly around Devin Booker and Ben Simmons right now. I think there’s about a 5% chance of either of those moves working. If you’re the Phoenix Suns or Philadelphia 76ers, why are you making that trade? It doesn’t really make sense for either team.

I’d be interested if the Wolves think about trading down. What if Minnesota gave up the first pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fifth pick and Darius Garland? What about No. 1 to the Suns for No. 10, Mikal Bridges and a future pick? Those aren’t the sexiest trades, but in a relatively weak class, these moves might be more realistic.

Is it purely the system that would cause us NOT to consider JW (James Wiseman) next to Kat? Twin towers in LA, Portland, Denver seem to work fine.. – @migguelangelAMI

This is a great question. I think most are writing Wiseman off as an option for the Wolves. It makes sense. The Timberwolves already have Karl-Anthony Towns and in today’s NBA, having two big men isn’t a very cool thing to do.

But as Miguel points out, the Lakers have Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard. Portland has Jusuf Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside. Denver has Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.

What makes the Towns-Wiseman pairing possible is that Towns has the versatility to stretch the floor and he’s shown the ability to defend players on the perimeter. Wiseman, from what we saw in limited action at Memphis, is able to defend the rim — something Towns hasn’t quite figured out yet.

I really like the Wiseman fit in Minnesota, to be honest. The team would still be able to find minutes for players like Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie, which would probably be threatened if Edwards was the first pick. Culver had a disappointing first season and Okogie is limited offensively, but these are still players who need to develop and can contribute to a winning team if they’re given that chance.

Teams are building to their strengths in the NBA. Minnesota’s strength is Karl-Anthony Towns. Why not double-down and make it nearly impossible for teams to matchup with the Wolves inside? Plus, it would give the Wolves a better chance to defend the teams above — all Western Conference teams.

If you combined this year’s draft prospects with last year’s, what would your top 10 big board be? – @marioleuang

Oh boy. The old “combine two draft classes” question.

Before we get to that, I want to reflect on something a scout told me before last year’s draft. He told me that Kevin Huerter (MY GUY) would have been a top-10 pick in the 2019 draft. Looking back, he was probably right! He would have been right around the 8-10 pick. It’s fun to look back to see where a player would have gone in another class, especially since these players and their families are probably looking at that as well to best position themselves.

This would be my top-10 and surely someone will find this in five years and I’ll get absolutely roasted.

  1. Zion Williamson
  2. Ja Morant
  3. Brandon Clarke
  4. LaMelo Ball
  5. RJ Barrett
  6. James Wiseman
  7. Coby White
  8. Tyler Herro
  9. Cam Reddish
  10. Anthony Edwards

That’s seven players from last year’s class and three from this year’s class. That seems about right for now. It’s probably too low for Edwards, but whatever. That’s how I feel right now and I’m sticking to it. I’ll be convinced eventually that he’s better than what we saw last year because that’s what happens throughout these processes.

A reminder that the Wolves had the chance to draft Clarke, White, Herro and Reddish.

How realistic are the talks of us trading for Devin Booker or Ben Simmons and how can we make it work financially? Where would you rank us in the West if we had either of those two? – @codygoldy

The bubble really killed Minnesota’s vibe with either trade.

Had the Suns gone 0-8, I think there would be more chatter of Booker wanting out or the Suns mixing things up. Instead, they went 8-0 and optimism couldn’t be higher for them — and rightfully so. Booker and Deandre Ayton are a fun one-two punch and we saw players like Bridges and Cameron Johnson have plenty to offer.

As for the 76ers, their first-round sweep against the Celtics proved just how much they need Simmons. He’s probably the second-best defender in the NBA behind Giannis Antetokounmpo. He can guard all five positions. I know he can’t shoot and that’s a problem, but he can do so many other things. He’s like a mansion without a bathroom. It’s wildy inconvenient, but you convince yourself a porta potty is okay because you live in a freaking mansion.

If the Wolves had either of these players, they’d have to give up the No. 1 pick, Malik Beasley and another rotational player. They’d jump into the 4-6 range of top teams in the West and the timeline with their three stars would be a perfect match. I just don’t see the 76ers or Suns wanting to make a deal given their situations.

Are the Wolves in development mode or win now mode? Would a #1 pick start and get good minutes if he’s not “there” yet? Are we wrong to think that Beasley is no longer a “lock” to return? – Joe N.

I appreciate Joe just throwing three questions out like my time isn’t valuable.

Narrator (in a Ron Howard voice): His time is not valuable.

The Wolves are stuck in the middle right now. Ideally, they’d be the seventh or eighth seed in the West next year. They are still very much in development-mode, though. Towns and Russell are good, but how will Beasley fit? What about Culver and Okogie? These are all players who will have to contribute next season and they are still all young. Even Towns and Russell can be looked at. While the two are great offensively, calling either a two-way player is an insult to the term.

Whoever is picked first overall will probably get minutes regardless. I remember the Anthony Bennett disaster in Cleveland and a lot of it was started because of Bennett’s inconsistent minutes. That led to media coverage and eventually, it just wore Bennett down mentally. When he came to Minnesota in the Andrew Wiggins trade, he had ZERO confidence. In press conferences, it felt like we were talking to a zombie. Obviously, confidence wasn’t Bennett’s only problem which is why he’s not in the league, but it will be important to let whoever is taken first overall go through his growing pains. As my great grandfather always said: There will certainly be rough patches, but it’s better than no patches.

The only way Beasley isn’t back in Minnesota is if the team decides to do a sign-and-trade for a Booker/Simmons/Bradley Beal type or if another team offers wayyyy too much for Beasley as a restricted free agent. Both of these seem unlikely, and I’d bet that Beasley is the team’s starting shooting guard next year.

What young player do you think will make the small improvements necessary to make the biggest leap going into next season? – Michael I.

The obvious choice for me is Jarrett Culver. I really hope the Wolves don’t crowd their wing rotation so much that Culver can’t get 20-25 minutes per game. Offensively, his shot needs fixing. I think some of that is mental. How else do you explain Culver shooting 46.2% from the free-throw line?

Culver is already a very good defensive player, and that will be huge for this team moving forward. The faces of the franchise — Towns, Russell and Beasley — aren’t helping much in that area. Players like Culver and Okogie will help immensely. Minnesota will never be a good defensive team unless the stars on the team at least buy in, but it’s hard to imagine either of those three will ever be the best defensive players on the team. Culver certainly could, but the rest of his game needs to develop as well.

If Culver can improve his shot even a little bit, that will be huge for his development. After a year of not even being in the Rising Stars Game, Culver could salvage his early reputation as a bust from the 2019 draft class.

SNACK TIME

Old cheez its are a classic snack, but what do you think of the modern era of cheez it snaps? I think they’ve outdone themselves and no one is talking about it. – @Kevin4213235

Kevin asks a question that needs to be asked more often.

I love his enthusiasm for Cheez-It Snaps. While I too am a fan of the Snaps, I don’t think they compare to the regular Cheez-Its, especially the Toasty Cheez-Its. When I’m looking for something a little lighter, though, or something I can dip in Top The Tater, Cheez Its Snaps are a good option.

Thanks to Kevin for a hard-hitting question that I imagine will be asked at the Presidential debates.

Is candy considered a snack? And if so if not, why do people give out almond joys for Halloween? – @corona_sadness

I’m not sure if candy is a snack or not, but nobody should give Almond Joys out for Halloween. Almond Joys should be given to people as a punishment.

That’s all we’ve got this time. Didn’t get in this round of the mailbag? Hit me up on Twitter and I’ll do my best to get you in next time.

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