Although the Minnesota Timberwolves enter this draft with no picks, crazy things can always happen on draft night. Last season we saw the Wolves go into the draft with two first-round selections and come out with three and old friend Ricky Rubio. Mock drafts are usually busted after the first five selections.
Many core prospects have been flying up draft boards due to their performance and measurements at the NBA combine, while others have been falling. Nearing the draft, we begin to see what role these prospects will play at the next level and where they are likely to land. The Wolves could use an additional young player to this roster in lieu of some of the RFA options. Fortunately, they have options if certain players fall to the end of the first round.
Thor is a power forward out of Auburn who had unreal measurements at the combine. He will still be 18 years old on the day of the draft.
- Height: 6’8.5” (6’9.25” with shoes)
- Wingspan: 7’3.25” (second-longest at the NBA Combine)
- Standing Reach: 9’2”
- Weight: 203 lbs
Thor already checks boxes with his measurables for slotting in at the modern-day PF role. What separates him is that he showed a lot of promise with his outside shooting. His smooth lefty stroke matched well with his athletic upside, allowing him to get open shots with ease.
His comp is Al-Farouq Aminu, who came into the league with many tools but took a while to iron them out. Thor is still raw offensively and needs to polish his game, but fortunately it’s his offensive abilities that caught the eye of league scouts.
He could be the power forward of the future next to Karl-Anthony Towns or a high-caliber role player who can use his frame to defend multiple positions. He could be a rim protector and also play the small ball 5 at times. His defending will always be there, but the big question for him is if his shooting develops to keep defenses honest from the perimeter. This will make his play off the ball much simpler in terms of spacing and allow him to have a role, even when he’s in the corner.
If Gersson Rosas wants to move into the mid to late first round, Thor should be at the top of his list because of his upside.
McBride is a point guard out of West Virginia who led a stacked team to back-to-back seasons of finishing in the top 25 in Bob Huggins’ defensive-minded scheme. His combine measurements made him fly up draft boards due to his desired build.
- Height: 6’1” (6’2.5” with shoes)
- Wingspan: 6’8.75”
- Standing Reach: 8’3.5”
- Weight: 195.2 lbs
Duece’s best trait is easily his ability to defend both the perimeter and the primary ball-handler with his massive wingspan. Matching this with his high motor and quick feet, he was able to press players full court and deep into the backcourt because of his ability to recover. This also made things much easier on the rest of the defense, allowing them to get into passing lanes and get the ball out of the primary ball-handler or scorer’s hands.
McBride, 20, has the traits of a crafty league veteran, slotting him into the backup point guard role of the future. He could also serve as a secondary ball-handler, which would fit well with the future of the Wolves roster, given that Rubio is likely to depart by the end of his contract and Nowell not having the x-factor as a primary ball-handler or playmaker.
His shooting ability is already polished, showing huge spurts of scoring from all three levels effectively off the dribble.
The swing trait with Deuce is his playmaking. He showed the ability to facilitate, but if he improve this further it will only sharpen his scoring ability.
There are many first-round point guards who are projected to go in the mid- to late-first round. If Deuce falls into the 20s, the Wolves should make it a priority to move back into the draft to select him.
Trey Murphy III
Murphy fits the mold of another 3-and-D role player with upside. Like Thor and McBride, his measurables at the NBA combine may have pushed him over the edge into the first round.
- Height: 6’7.5” (6’9.25” with shoes)
- Wingspan: 7’0”
- Standing Reach: 8’9.5”
- Weight: 206 lbs
After transferring from Rice last year, Murphy excelled in Virginia’s defensive-minded scheme because of his ability to guard multiple positions. His length comes into play when he gets beaten by opposing players, giving him the ability to catch up and affect the shot at the rim. He is also an excellent 3-point shooter, shooting 43.3% on 4.8 attempts a game. This makes him one of the most polished 3-and-D prospects in the draft.
However, Murphy could be limited because he is defined by his role-player ceiling. He has the ability to attack the rim if wide open but his shot creation isn’t polished. His slender frame holds him back a bit, forcing him to be a spot-up shooter and limiting his driving ability.
At the end of the day, he will fall a bit due to his reputation as a 3-and-D prospect. Many contending teams could use a player like him, but rebuilding teams may look elsewhere for a higher ceiling on earlier picks. If he falls to the back end of the first round, the Wolves should do whatever they can to move up and get this polished rotational player to beef up their defense.
Any of these players would fill an essential role for the team, and Deuce and Murphy could instantly help. Thor would be the player with a high ceiling to take a swing on. All three players address needs the Wolves always have: more secondary ball handlers and better defending/shooting. Rosas should trade back into the draft if any of these players drop.