As we get closer and closer to the draft, I am becoming more and more convinced that the Wolves need to trade their 2016 1st round draft pick.Unless it’s top-3 of course. The exception to the rule for me would be getting Simmons, Ingram, or Bender. All would be worth holding onto the pick.
As I was car shopping this weekend, it dawned on me. Draft picks are like new cars. They depreciate the second they leave the lot. The same goes for draft picks. The Wolves will likely land somewhere in the top 6 picks with the 5th best odds of getting number 1. What sounds better, a shiny-new top 5 draft pick or Jamal Murray, a kid who can score and shoot pretty good, but thats really it. Oh and he is a few years away from contributing. To add to it, he is going to be buried behind Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and maybe even Tyus Jones. Shiny-new top 5 draft pick sounded better right?
Lets try another scenario. A shiny-new top 5 draft pick or Buddy Hield, an older rookie who still will need to adjust to the pace of the NBA and not being the focal point of the offense. And he isn’t really a good defender. And he is prone to chucking up shots. The shiny-new draft pick still right?
The reality is, there is not a talent in the 4 to 10 range that really sound better than a shiny-new draft pick. At least from the Wolves perspective. The Wolves are stacked with young players and breaking into the rotation, especially if you are a guard or small forward, will be extremely difficult. There isn’t a power forward that really complements Towns in that range that also doesn’t have ‘bust’ written across their forehead. Why? Because it’s been proven time and time again that scoring doesn’t translate to success in the NBA. And the prospects from 4-10 have that as their claims to fame.
So what do the Wolves do with the pick? Trade it. To whom you may ask? A team in a desperate need to rebuild. There are a lot of those on the horizon. We may look at the Thunder if Durant decides to leave. The Bulls if everyone becomes unhappy. The Pacers may part ways with Frank Vogel which could be a problem there. The Clippers will likely reconstruct. The Rockets and Mavs will be candidates. Memphis will also be forced to start over with the likely departure of Conley and their aging roster. I am sure the list is longer but the point is, there will be a market for a team who wants a draft pick of their choice to speed up their rebuilding process. The Wolves could potentially field offers from most of these teams that can be enticing.
Thibodeau has mentioned a few times in his press conference and interviews that free agents and trades would need to fit this team for where it is going in the next 3-4 years. Many of the teams I mentioned above may not have players that fit the bill to make a trade. I have floated the idea around on twitter (@timberrebuilder) of getting the likes of Serge Ibaka, Paul George, or Jimmy Butler. All guys that fit the bill but may have too high of asking prices. There also the question of fit with guys who play small forward.
Then there is the list of fringe teams that are somewhere in between rebuilding and figuring out their identities. Teams like the Kings, Suns, or Nuggets. I wouldn’t be opposed to dangling the 5th pick for a player like Eric Bledsoe or Kenneth Faried. Many would love to pair Cauley-Stien with his old college teammate Towns. All of these are players that can fit a need for the Wolves and don’t really fit on their current rosters.
There is also the possibility the Wolves trade down and add a role player. The Nuggets again come to mind as they have a lot of picks (three total, getting one from Houston and Portland). The Nuggets have a lot of big men prospects that could fit well with the Wolves. The Bucks are in the late lottery and also could offer a role player in which they could move up and grab a point guard like Kris Dunn. I have always been intrigued by John Henson and would be open to adding him to the roster. In the late lottery I would be interested in adding Timothe Luwawu from France or forward Ivan Rabb from Cal. Both are defensive-minded and would be good projects for Thibs and his staff.
All in all, I don’t get excited at the prospect of having Kris Dunn or Jaylen Brown on this roster. To me there is the same value or talent in picks from 11-17 for this draft as there is in 4-10. This leads me, someone who loves the draft, to want to trade the pick. The guys available in the 5th-pick range have a common denominator, not great defense. I am sure a few players could be argued for but in general, if a player can’t defend in college, they won’t be able to defend at a high-level in the NBA. This may have slid without question before when your coach is Flip Saunders or Sam Mitchell and offense is your forte. But Thibs could make a rookie’s life miserable if they’ve never played defense.
These are my thoughts as of now. These thoughts could change a month from now when the draft gets closer and the draft boards begin to sort themselves out. My logic is trading the pick before there is a name associated with the pick will be important to get the most value for it. Just like selling a brand-new car with zero miles vs selling a car with one owner.
The Timber Rebuilder.