For those following this blog, you know the draft is my favorite day of the season. Not always by choice, but it is the only thing for the last 12 seasons the Wolves have been at the top of.
The Wolves find themselves in the middle of the draft lottery at pick 7. This is typically an indication of an inflection point in the Wolves rebuild. They usually only go up or down from here. The last inflection point was 2013 when the Wolves pick 9th. They were seemingly on their way on the upwards swing after landing the 13th pick in the 2014 draft. Of course, the Kevin Love drama led to a reset.
So the Wolves are in a position to truly improve their team. The 7th pick is really, really valuable in this draft. The caveat though is, the pick will likely require patience. Every player that is projected in the top 10 is a Freshmen. Every single one. Some of them can have an impact immediately, but none are going to completely change the fortunes of the team that drafts them as of this upcoming season.
With these expectations set, you also have to take into account the goals for the Wolves in the 17-18 season. The Wolves are absolutely looking to make the playoffs. Whoever the Wolves draft tonight might not push the Wolves over the hump this season, but equips them for the years afterwards, which are equally important. The Wolves also have the option to move the 7th pick to really bulk up their lineup with a veteran. Because the Wolves have so many assets and the 7th pick, they could be positioned to be involved in a Blockbuster deal tonight.
So diving into what is available today. There are two players that have been floating that the Wolves should absolutely pursue. Kristaps Porzingis and Jimmy Butler. The only thing that is untouchable would be Towns in both deals. But I have to believe the Wolves will be trying to construct something around the 7th pick, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio, and/ or Gorgui Dieng. Many might disagree here, but this has to be the top option for the Wolves. The draft this year is set up in that the picks are extremely valuable.
Now, without the pipe dream, the most likely scenario is the Wolves will take the pick at 7 and add them to the roster. From the sounds before the draft, the top 5 picks seem pretty solid. Fultz, Ball, Taytum, Jackson, and Fox should be gone. The Orlando Magic will ultimately decide the Wolves’ fate tonight. Had they not just got a new GM, I would feel more comfortable with them making the wrong decision. My biggest fear going into tonight is that the Magic take Jonathan Isaac at 6. It doesn’t make a ton of sense for them, being that Aaron Gordon is their franchise cornerstone, but he certainly will be the best player available.
Jonathan Isaac is easily my favorite player in this draft and for the Wolves. If the Wolves leave this draft with Isaac, I will be the happiest person on the planet. Unfortunately, he didn’t work out for the Wolves. Being that the most realistic scenario tonight is that the Wolves take a pick and keep it, the best case scenario tonight is drafting Jonathan Isaac at 7. There has been concerns about his response to a question around if he does drugs when asked by the Celtics. Celtics and Thibs should have a decent relationship, so the Wolves should know what they need if they take him. With the Magic potentially taking Isaac and the fact that he didn’t work out for the Wolves, my hopes are low and I am trying to think of a consolation.
My consolation on the day of the draft is Malik Monk. A smaller version of Zach LaVine. I typically don’t like taking scorers in the draft. Scoring is not a great skill that translates well in the NBA. Monk, however, can shoot the lights out too. Monk probably has the biggest range of floor and ceiling going into the draft. If Monk could defend, he would easily be a top 3 pick in this draft. He could be the next Rashad McCants or the next Jamal Crawford. There have been some stretch, great shooter comparisons done to Malik Monk. Like Steph Curry and Ray Allen. I think that is wrong. But I see Monk as the 1b pick for the Wolves. Luckily, Isaac and/ or Monk will be available at pick 7.
Dennis Smith Jr is also an intriguing prospect and has the most potential as ‘the guy I can’t believe everyone passed on’. He is extremely athletic and did everything on the court. He seemingly can be compared to Westbrook with his style of play. My issue though is not with Smith, it is more so that I like Dunn and Rubio too much. I still think Dunn is going to be a good starter in the league and also believe Rubio is the point guard this team needs right now to make the playoffs.
Then there was Lauri Markkanen. The best shooter in the draft apparently. Listen, I am sure he can shoot. I just don’t think he will be able to do anything else. Also, a red flag always goes up when a player gets compared to Dirk. A rule of thumb for me is avoid those guys. They never come close. If the Wolves take Lauri at 7, that would be the worst case scenario for the Wolves. If the Wolves trade down and get Lauri, I might be able to sleep at night. Unfortunately, Markkanen is getting attached to the Wolves a ton. There are also rumblings that the Mavs absolutely love him too.
I also like a couple of guys in the later lottery in Zach Collins and OG Anunoby. It could be interesting if the Wolves could potentially move down to grab one of these two. I would not be opposed to having one of these guys if the Wolves don’t get Isaac. I personally like Collins and Anunoby over Markkanen.
The underrated part of the draft is that trades are being made, and not only for picks. There are a few players that could be available for trade that the Wolves could really use. The two players I hope get linked to the Wolves would be Danny Green and Ryan Anderson. Danny Green is a great 3 and D guy the Wolves could desperately use, along with his veteran presence. Ryan Anderson is a crazy shooter who could really spread the floor for the Wolves and could play the Mirotic role for Thibs’ offense.
The Wolves don’t have a 2nd rounder but there has been rumors that they are interested in purchasing one. There are a ton of solid players that could drop into the 2nd round of this draft. I like sleepers like Sterling Brown and George de Paula. Brown is a great 3 and D prospect that could develop into a good role player. I also have been following de Paula since the 2015 draft, mainly because of his physical tools. He has bigger hands than Kawhi Leonard and has incredible length for a point guard. He would be one of the biggest point guards in recent history. He reminds me of Giannis at point guard. Being that it is a 2nd rounder, I have no problems taking a project. I pray Thibs is reading this and takes George de Paula.
Caleb Swanigan, Ivan Rabb, Josh Hart, and DJ Wilson are guys I like if they drop into the 2nd round. Would keep an eye on them.
Thats all for now. Can’t wait for tonight!