How’s your summer going?
Me? I’m just coolin’ in the southern hemisphere ‘winter,’ watching Leandro Bolmaro highlights and dreaming. That and watching players from the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 drafts lead their teams to playoff wins and wondering if we missed our chance.
Anyway, back to the hindsight. If you read my article last week, you’ll know I am taking a second look at the first two years of the Gersson Rosas era in the Timberwolves front office.
I don’t want this to seem like a ‘drag Rosas through the mud’ exercise. There have been many great decisions and a lot of bad luck. It just happens that after looking at why the Wolves would let go of Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones simultaneously, it is time to discuss the 2019 draft.
It’s common knowledge that Rosas took a gamble trading Dario Saric and the 11th pick to move up in the draft to hopefully grab Darius Garland, thus why he let Rose and Jones walk, only to have him swept from his grasp by those meddling double-point-guarding Cleveland Cavaliers.
And so he drafts Jarrett Culver, the son of a chaplain, fresh off a dominant run to the NCAA championship. At first, it seems like a pretty good pick. Culver is a 6’7” wing with defensive potential, something that everyone is desperate for at all times.
It’s too early to say what Culver will be. He has established himself as a hard worker, but so far, it hasn’t panned out as anyone would have hoped. According to Cleaning the Glass, Culver’s effective field goal percentage this year was 46.7, and he literally did not hit an assisted 3-point field goal in the 2020-21 season.
So, Rosas missed. The best miss, the worst miss — everybody misses. There is a history of Timberwolves GMs missing, but that doesn’t mean that Rosas isn’t allowed his allotment. He wasn’t there for Kris Dunn or Jonny Flynn.
Still, this is a list of the next seven players drafted:
7. Bulls – Coby White
8. Pelicans – Jaxson Hayes
9. Wizards – Rui Hachimura
10. Hawks – Cam Reddish
11. Suns – Cameron Johnson
12. Hornets – P.J. Washington
13. Heat – Tyler Herro
There is a lot of this that ties in with last week’s column on D-Rose and Tyus. I’ll say it again, but Rosas’s handling of the point guard position has been questionable, to say the least. Was there simply no plan C for if D’Angelo Russell was unattainable and if someone else drafted Garland? Was White that bad of an option there?
To be fair, White hasn’t played out quite like the Chicago Bulls hoped he would. He’s most likely the sixth man on a good team, but he sure looks better than Culver’s 50 percent at the line. You will all remember White’s 35-piece against the Wolves in an overtime loss earlier this year. He is fast, can stop on a dime, and finish at the hoop. Culver is fast, but does neither of the latter.
There’s a lot of what-iffing going on here (such is life, I suppose). But if you want to really dig into it, Chelanga wrote an interesting article on the exact topic earlier this year.
One good point Chelanga makes is that the Wolves trusted their board on Culver and missed. Maybe White should have been above Culver at the time, but they trusted the pre-draft process, and I, too, am generally a fan of that kind of decision-making.
One last thing I will nick from Chelanga for this is the Eggman moniker for Culver. That story of him requesting his mother’s scrambled eggs may be the second most defining moment of his NBA career so far, a close second to the Robin Lopez Dunk. That or getting stuck in the lane and chucking up a tough one.
Whatever the case, the Timberwolves have won 42 games in two years since the draft, and that hurts.
However, all is not doom and gloom. Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid also hail from the 2019 class — a second-round pick and an undrafted free agent. Not everything is done at the top of the draft, and these two are now precious parts of a team that will likely rely on them heavily, both for their cheap price tag and their talents.
But if these playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference, are a case study for anything, it’s that for small market teams; all the important stuff is done at the top of the draft.
The Wolves started the 2019 draft with the 11th pick and ended it with egg on their face.