The Minnesota Timberwolves decided to stand pat during last week’s trade deadline. With just days before the All-Star break, the team is already only three wins away from their season’s projected win total. And with the front office deciding not to consolidate assets, the Timberwolves currently hold the rights to four picks in this summer’s upcoming draft.
The NBA gives franchises a first- and second-round pick in every draft. And with the Wolves acquiring two additional second-rounders in past trades, general manager Sachin Gupta now has to decide what to do with not one nor two, but three picks ranging from 31-60.
Having multiple picks is hardly a bad thing. And with names like Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren headlining the 2022 NBA Draft, many might assume that this draft class matches up well against those past years. But in typical Minnesota sports fashion, the Wolves own three second-round picks in a draft many experts see as shallow in talent.
So why do the Wolves still have these picks?
Second-round picks are rarely considered a commodity. But as time goes on, more hidden gems have been found late in the draft. The Golden State Warriors selected former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green with the 35th pick in 2012. Last year’s MVP, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, was the 41st pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. And former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon was selected with the 36th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in June 2016.
The Timberwolves roster is already one of the youngest in the league. With an average age of 24.3 years old, Minny ranks as the NBA’s third-youngest team, behind only the Memphis Grizzlies (24.2) and Oklahoma City Thunder (24.1). And with the majority of the team’s minutes already being shared by players 25 and under, the front office should be looking to find players with more league experience. Sure, the front office can take three shots in the dark at acquiring a player who scouts say is “league-ready.” But with top draft analysts saying that this year’s class doesn’t offer much after the top-10 prospects or so, the chances of Gupta finding a player who can immediately provide help near the bottom of draft boards are low.
It’s unclear what the return would be should Minnesota look into packaging up some of their second-round picks. During the insanity that was last week’s trade deadline, the Detroit Pistons sent out Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles, and two second-round picks to acquire former second overall pick Marvin Bagley III from the Sacramento Kings.
It was well-publicized that Bagley wanted Sacramento to trade him due to a diminishing role. And Detroit’s front office seized the chance to pry away the disgruntled 6’10” forward from the retooling Kings. If the Timberwolves could swap out an expiring contract, role player, and two second-rounders for a player similar to Bagley, the number of petitions for a Gupta statue in front of Target Center would be astronomical! But alas, the Wolves failed to make a deal at the Feb. 10 deadline and cannot make a deal until the upcoming offseason. Which in turn, leaves Minnesota’s front office unable to package an expiring contract such as Josh Okogie or Jake Layman’s alongside some combination of their three seconds.
Minnesota has its eyes set on the upcoming postseason. The team hasn’t sat above a .500 win percentage this far into the regular season since the Jimmy Butler Wolves, who finished 47-35. So it’s understandable that the team didn’t want to rustle any feathers by making mid-season changes to their roster. But the offseason will be here in just a matter of months. Mock drafts will flood the internet, and trade rumors will circulate again. And whether they’re ready or not, the front office will have to quickly decide what they plan to do with three second-round selections in a seemingly weak draft.