Josh Minott Could Become A Steal If the Wolves Are Patient With Him

Photo credit: Joe Rondone-The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY Sports

The NBA draft has come and gone, and the Minnesota Timberwolves emerge from draft night having taken four players. We’ve got great coverage of Walker Kessler and Wendell Moore on the site. Wolves fans should expect to see those two make appearances in the lineup this season. However, the player that has me most excited is Josh Minott, who they drafted with the 45th overall pick.

I had Minott ranked 24th on my board pre-draft because I saw the skills for him to develop into a valuable rotation player, maybe even a quality starter. Get your tickets to ride the Josh Minott hype train before they sell out. As soon as Timberwolves fans can watch him play in summer league, the tickets will be harder to get than tickets to a Rihanna concert. I promise you will want to be here early so you can be the one to tell all your friends that you saw it coming with Minott.

First, let me be clear: The success rate on late second-round picks in the back half of the second round has not been great. We should generally expect that players drafted late will probably never crack a rotation in a deeply meaningful way. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and recently, some surprisingly impactful players have been drafted late. Specifically, pick 45 has produced some fairly quality players. Here is a list of the last five 45th picks in the NBA draft:

Outside of the international man of mystery Juhann Begarin, that’s an excellent success rate over the past five years. Yes, this is all just circumstantial, but it’s good to know that teams have acquired legitimate rotation players this late in the draft.

As for Minott, the counting stats are uninspiring. He averaged 6.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game. What’s really impressive about him is his frame. At 6’8.75″, 197 lbs. with a 6’11.75″ wingspan, he’s got the size and length of an NBA forward. He’s a solid athlete who did most of his work on offense in transition and off of cuts. He’s got a good feel for the game off-ball and should be able to play well off of a high-level facilitator (see D’Angelo Russell). Though his shot is a work in progress — he shot 14.3% from three-point range last season — Minott has got great touch around the rim. He scored an efficient 1.27 points per possession on shots at the rim.

Beyond his ability to attack the rim, his offensive game is a bit limited right now. I wouldn’t call his handle weak, but I don’t think he’s ready to be a threat from the perimeter with the ball at his hands at an NBA level. There are also questions about his consistency. He had a really up and down year at Memphis. He barely touched the floor on some nights. But he played a heavy minutes load on others. All in all, he averaged just 14.3 minutes per contest.

Early in his career, he will be able to get out in transition and score while holding his own defensively. While his defense is impressive, he is far from a finished project. Minot had an impressive 3.1% steal rate and 5.4% block rate, but he also averaged 6.8 fouls per 100 possessions. He has the physical ability to play excellent perimeter defense and a nose for the ball. However, he is undisciplined and ends up compromised defensively far too often.

Here’s what The Athletic’s John Hollinger said about Minott’s defense:

Minott probably plays closer to the dribbler of any other player I saw in this size class, which is notable — players tell on themselves by how much cushion they give the dribbler. Minott has tremendous hands and long arms and legs; he uses the former to flick the ball from unsuspecting dribblers, and the latter to make up ground if he’s initially beat. Minott goes for the ball a bit too often, a high-risk strategy that can leave an open downhill run if it fails, and because he’s thin and has a high center of gravity, he can pick up fouls when opponents get into his body or spin-off him.

Right now, Minott is a pretty raw prospect. There is no guarantee that he can round out his game. But with time and patience, he could look like one of the steals of the draft. Every NBA team is looking for 6’8″ perimeter players who can defend and knock down threes. Minott is not that yet, but he’s got the tools to become that.

As the self-proclaimed leader of the Josh Minott Believer’s Guild — or colloquially, Minott’s For Real (MFR) — I’d like to coin a phrase for those who also believe in his upside: Why Not Minott? Why not put all your stock in his upside? There is no better way to be a fan of a team than to get overly excited about a second-round prospect.

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