The Wolves Should Be Willing To Shop Their 1st Round Pick

Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves in a rare predicament; they currently have a core that they believe in. But they are still looking to certify themselves as a playoff team. Minnesota currently has the third-youngest roster in the league and is building a sustainable winning roster.

Even with the young roster, they have experienced players in Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been through a tumultuous career for only being in Minnesota, and D’Angelo Russell, who is finally finding a home after being traded three times over his young career. Despite their critics, you cannot put them down for buying into things here. It is something we should all be grateful for, no matter the circumstances.

Towns, 26, and Russell, 25, are veterans and have been through a lot. Towns has had a tumultuous career on and off the court, despite spending all of it with one franchise. Russell bounced from coast to coast before finding a home in the Upper Midwest.

Towns and Russell have their fair share of critics. But they’ve bought into what’s happening in Minnesota and have taken ownership of the team’s success. Anyone who wants to see the Timberwolves succeed should be grateful for that.

The addition of core young players in Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid, and Jaylen Nowell has created a reason to believe the Wolves have a bright future. They were all acquired through various means, and all of them have risen above their draft status. They should form the nucleus for years to come.

Patrick Beverley, 33, isn’t part of the youth movement. But he’s a crafty veteran picked up for two young players who were not going to get playing time.

Add it all together, and you start to see the winning formula.

Youth Movement

It is clear that this team still has a ton of room to grow. The starting lineup’s average age is 25 years old, and the oldest player on the roster, Beverley, is six years older than the next oldest Taurean Prince (27). Getting Beverley was huge because of his veteran presence, and it has paid its dividends. However, this team would benefit from another vet to guide the youth.

The Wolves should have no concerns about shopping their first-round pick available in trade talks this upcoming deadline. That is unless they are going to take an NBA-ready, experienced college player like teams did with Desmond Bane or Chris Duarte in the last two drafts. If they aren’t set on that type of prospect who should have an immediate impact, they should go the trade route and dump some pieces for a minor upgrade.

Trading a first-rounder a year after having no picks would indicate a lot of trust in the core. But Nowell’s recent breakout and Vanderbilt asserting himself as a top-tier defender on an affordable contract are shining examples of trusting the development staff.

Making A Realistic Move

If this team does anything, I believe that it will be around the fringes of the rotation. Packaging any combination of expiring deals such as Prince, Josh Okogie, or Jake Layman along with the pick could net a player who could have a more immediate impact on the team. Think Juancho Hernangómez and Jarrett Culver for Beverley. We’re not talking a blockbuster trade here. But if the team wants to continue to strive forward, fill a role, and not lose the comradery that they have within the normal rotation, this is the kind of move they have to make.

While a Ben Simmons or Myles Turner trade is always tempting, those come with heavy price tags. The Wolves should do their due diligence, but taking a big swing shouldn’t be a priority right now.

The more realistic approach would be a veteran who can fill a position of need like a veteran shooter or a veteran big. Working around the fringes was a past skill of Gersson Rosas, and the contractual dealings have been a trait of Sachin Gupta. Snagging another role player from a selling team or finding a hidden gem could be vital.

Potential Trade Options

The deadline will be moved by who is buying, selling, and retooling. Parity across the NBA makes it hard to decipher who’s buying and selling, making under-the-radar moves likely. However, that should benefit Minnesota.

Our first trade sees the Wolves pick up veteran shot-blocker Nerlens Noel.

The New York Knicks could easily be looking to shed Noel’s contract. He has a lot of injury concerns, and they could easily prioritize youth over giving him minutes. The Wolves would be giving up two inexpensive expiring contracts and their lottery-protected first.

Protections on the pick and year of the selection may vary, but the Knicks are looking to shake up rotation spots to get Cam Reddish in their lineup. The Wolves take on some salary for the coming seasons while getting something for two end-of-the-bench players. The Knicks could easily waive one of the two and give another favorable player a deal.

The second option could be a guy like Eric Gordon, who has been having an excellent season. The Wolves would swap him and Malik Beasley‘s deal, giving the Houston Rockets a youth flyer in Okogie and a top-10 protected pick. Gordon, 33, has been shooting a career-high 45% from three this season. This trade could vary depending on whether it’s Beasley or Prince. Prince is an expiring deal, but getting off Beasley’s contract and his baggage and opening up more creation opportunities for Nowell would be huge.

It comes down to which expiring contracts other teams want to take on, what they can get for Beasley, and what protections the Wolves can negotiate. The Wolves undoubtedly should keep the pick available, though. They should not receive a top-10 pick this season. Therefore, they should roll with who they currently have, see what they got, and be in hot pursuit of a roster upgrade.

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