Timberwolves

The Wolves Are Going To Have Enticing Options At 19

Photo Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NBA Draft is just hours away, and reports of teams looking to move up, down, and entirely out of the draft order continue to spread like wildfire. Predicting what each team will do with their first-round selection has always been difficult, but with a more balanced league, anything can come from Thursday evening. For the Minnesota Timberwolves, possessing a pick in the middle of such a draft could spell chaos in the team’s Draft War Room. But with plenty of talent projected to still be available, the Wolves have a chance at finding the steal of this year’s draft – starting with the 19th pick.

After being deemed Zone Coverage’s NBA Draft expert, I’ve decided to look at what the draft could look like for Minnesota in the leadup to their pick slotted at 19. My fellow Timberwolves contributor Brooks Davis and I will alternate selections in what we believe each team will do with their respective pick without factoring in any potential trades.

The 2022 Zone Coverage NBA Mock Draft

1. Jonah – The Orlando Magic select Forward Jabari Smith Jr. | 19-year-old Freshman | Auburn | 6’10” 220 lbs | 7’1” wingspan |

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski claims Orlando is likely to take Jabari Smith. A sharpshooting big who averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds on 42.9/42.0/79.9 splits on a 28-6 Auburn team, Smith has tremendous upside on both sides of the ball.

2. Brooks – The Oklahoma City Thunder select Forward/Center Chet Holmgren | 20-year-old Freshman | Gonzaga | 7’1” 195 lbs | 7’6” wingspan |

OKC fills a huge need at center by drafting Chet Holmgren. Holmgren, a player who excels at protecting the paint, also possesses immense potential on the other end of the floor. Toss in Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Josh Giddey, and the Thunder have a well-balanced core of scoring, playmaking, and defense.

3. Jonah – Houston Rockets select Forward Paolo Banchero | 19-year-old Freshman | Duke | 6’10” 250 lbs | 7’0.5” wingspan |

Houston is reportedly enamored with what Banchero brings to the table. The Rockets land another offensive threat to pair next to Jalen Green. And with the recent trade to ship Christian Wood to Dallas, the former Blue Devil should be clear for takeoff immediately.

4. Brooks – The Sacramento Kings select Forward Keegan Murray | 21-year-old Sophomore | Iowa | 6’8” 225 lbs | 6’11”* wingspan |

Sacramento, who currently holds the longest playoff drought, opts for best fit with Iowa’s Keegan Murray instead of the best player available in Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. The Kings reportedly view De’Aaron Fox as a Ja Morant type of player, so flooding an already crowded backcourt would only take away from their former top-5 pick’s sine.

5. Jonah – The Detroit Pistons select Guard Jaden Ivey | 20-year-old Sophomore | Purdue | 6’4” 195 lbs | 6’7” wingspan |

Detroit shouts to the heavens as Jaden Ivey, an explosive guard who will fit nicely in the backcourt with star-in-the-making Cade Cunningham, falls in their lap with the fifth overall pick

6. Brooks – The Indiana Pacers select Forward Shaedon Sharpe | 19 years old | 6’6” 200 lbs | 6’11.5” wingspan |

After canceling workouts with the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs last week, it appears Sharpe has received a promise to be drafted from the Indiana Pacers or Portland Trail Blazers. Sharpe’s athleticism and explosive scoring fit well alongside Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte.

7. Jonah – The Portland Trail Blazers select Guard/Forward Bennedict Mathurin | 20 year-old-Sophomore | Arizona | 6’6” 204 lbs | 6’9” wingspan |

Looking to get back into the playoffs, Portland chooses a versatile/athletic wing in Bennedict Mathurin, who pairs well alongside Damian Lillard.

8. Brooks – The New Orleans Pelicans select Guard Dyson Daniels | 19 years old | 6’6″ 195 lbs | 6’10.5” wingspan |

Dyson Daniels provides New Orleans with a high-level defender who showcased his ability to play on and off the ball during his time with the G-League Ignite last season.

9. Jonah – The San Antonio Spurs select Center Jalen Duren | 18-year-old Freshman | 6’11” 250 lbs | 7’5” wingspan |

Spurs find a developmental big and absolute freak athlete in Duren to match their team’s timeline.

10. Brooks – The Washington Wizards select Guard Jaden Hardy | 19 years old | G-League Ignite | 6’4” 190 lbs | 6’9” wingspan |

The Wizards lack guard depth, and with Bradley Beal’s future with the team in question, Washington takes a swing on a player who showed promise toward the end of his time with the G League Ignite.

11. Jonah – The New York Knicks select Guard Johnny Davis | 20-year-old Sophomore | Wisconsin | 6’8.5” wingspan |

This has been a popular landing spot, but Davis’ defense and shot creation ability fits well with Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks too well.

12. Brooks – Oklahoma City Thunder select Forward AJ Griffin | 19-year-old Freshman | Duke | 6’6” 222 lbs | 7’0” wingspan |

After questions about his defense and injury history, Sam Presti lands a high-upside player who would provide OKC with some much-needed floor spacing.

13. Jonah – Charlotte Hornets select Forward Ousmane Dieng | 19 year old via France | 6’10” 216 lbs | 7’0” wingspan |

Charlotte lands a talented developmental wing who can progress on his own timeline behind some older players in the rotation spots.

14. Brooks – Cleveland Cavaliers select Wing Ochai Agbaji | 22-year-old Senior | Kansas | 6’5” 215 lbs | 6’10.25” wingspan |

Cleveland lands an NBA-ready wing whose floor spacing would allow All-Star point guard Darius Garland to better operate the Cavs’ offense which finished in the bottom-10 this season.

15. Jonah – Charlotte Hornets select Center Mark Williams | 20-year-old Sophomore | Duke | 7’2” 242 lbs | 7’6.5” wingspan |

Charlotte finds a traditional big man who did tremendously well with Duke this past season to instantly gain minutes due to the Hornet’s poor frontcourt rotation.

16. Brooks – Atlanta Hawks select Forward Jeremy Sochan | 19-year-old Freshman | Baylor | 6’9” 230 lbs | 7’0” wingspan |

Atlanta becomes one of the draft’s early winners as one of the top defenders in this year’s class falls to a Hawks team that posted a bottom-5 defense last season.

17. Jonah – Houston Rockets Forward Tari Eason | 21-year-old Sophomore | LSU | 6’8” 217 lbs | 7’2’ wingspan |

Houston takes a shot at an athletic forward in Tari Eason to add to their young and exciting youth movement.

18. Brooks – Chicago Bulls select Forward EJ Liddell | 21-year-old Junior | Ohio State | 6’7” 240 lbs | 6’11.75 wingspan |

With forward Derrick Jones Jr. hitting the open market next week, Chicago opts for a cheaper, younger backup for Patrick Williams.

WOLVES PICK

Brooks’ 2 options – (Jalen Williams and Dalen Terry)

The two players I feel warrant looks with the 19th pick are Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams and Arizona’s Dalen Terry.

Jalen Williams | Guard/Forward | 21-year-old Junior | Santa Clara | 6’6” 210 lbs. | 7’2.25” wingspan |

Minnesota’s front office should be thrilled if this prospect is still on the board here. After a strong showing at this year’s NBA Combine, Santa Clara guard/forward Jalen Williams has skyrocketed up draft boards. He resembles Dillon Brooks with his frame and defense yet has an offensive game eerily similar to none other than James Harden during his days in Oklahoma City.

Even with it being highly unlikely for him to reach “Beard ” status, Jalen Williams possesses everything needed to have a long career in the league as a 3-and-D wing. For Minnesota, Williams presents their front office with one of the draft’s safest picks and could fill the holes of a potential D’Angelo Russell/Malik Beasley trade.

Dalen Terry | Guard/Forward | 19-year-old Sophomore | Arizona | 6’7” 195 lbs. | 7’0.75” wingspan |

With the Timberwolves looking towards acquiring more versatile defenders, Arizona’s Dalen Terry should be at the top of Tim Connely’s big board. Arizona finished first in the Pac-12, mainly due to Terry’s stellar play for most of the college basketball season. Playing alongside potential lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin, Terry showcased the ability to impact winning both with and without the ball in his hands.

For the Wolves, a team not lacking in the scoring department, their front office should take notice. Terry excels in the fastbreak, which is often fueled by his 7’0.75” wingspan and premier defense in the passing lanes. He would also provide the Wolves another secondary ball-handler and energy provider (Patrick Beverley isn’t getting any younger). With the 19th pick, Minnesota should be focused on bringing in a player who can immediately impact winning without needing a ton of touches – and Dalen Terry proved to be just that this year with the Wildcats.

Jonah’s 2 options – (MarJon Beauchamp and Malaki Branham )

My favorite two potential selections at 19 would be F MarJon Beauchamp and G Malaki Branham.

MarJon Beauchamp | Wing/Forward | 21 years old | G League Ignite | 6’6.5” 197 lbs | 7’0.75” wingspan |

MarJon would slot in perfectly as a rangey wing/forward with the Wolves at 19. He is one of the more interesting prospects in this draft due to his unique pathway to the league. His strengths include defensive versatility, cutting ability, and athleticism, which he showcased in a professional environment. He has to continue to work on his shooting and shot creation but has shown flashes during his time with G League Ignite and his JUCO past.

If his shooting comes on more, it’s only a bonus as he already has translatable skills. He projects as a role player floor starter with a ceiling of being a very strong starter soon. The pick would be at good value, giving the Wolves another defensive option around their core.

Malaki Branham | Guard/Wing | 19-year-old Freshman | Ohio St | 6’5.5” 194.8 lbs | 6’10” wingspan |

Branham would be a great value here for the Wolves. I have him 14th on my big board, and he hovers around the fringe lottery range across platforms. He was relatively unknown in draft spaces until his impressive second half of the year that shot him up draft boards, including a 35-point outing versus Nebraska. EJ Liddell and Malaki formed an incredible duo that led to winning in their successful BIG Ten conference play.

He would be a perfect fit to develop behind Malik Beasley before they decide on his team option, giving them more depth for now with a potential 2-way threat. His midrange game stands out the most, using that to find shots. Branham’s wingspan also gives him an advantage to get shots over defenders and use it as he develops as a defender. His high potential, but his floor as a role player would be a great calculated pick here at 19.

The draft always goes in different directions than the public eye’s expectations. Still, the Wolves are lucky to find themselves within a comfortable position to find the right prospect around their current slot at 19. A trade-up could be in the cards for the Wolves. However, they have flexibility to find their guy. With no true hole outside of a rim-protecting big, the Wolves can look at any position for the future with any of these 4 options as strong leading candidates around this draft range.

*An earlier version of this post misstated Murray’s wingspan. We regret the error.

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