A Dunn Deal?

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The title is cliché, but wanted to take the opportunity to use it before it was over-Dunn. Get it? Yes I did it again. A quick shout out to @kadung1 for his tremendous Wolves photoshop work as well. He put together the image. Go give him a follow on Twitter. 

The Wolves have the 5th pick, officially. So the smoke is finally beginning to clear. The Wolves will likely shop the pick but it should be of no surprise to any executives in the league that this is a two-man draft. In comparison to other years, the value of a lottery pick may be low due to natural supply and demand. Many teams in the lottery, especially the Boston Celtics, will look to trade their picks. There is also a group of prospects between 3 and probably 15 where they are merely the same level of talent. 

One prospect that is becoming more and more intriguing by the day is Kris Dunn. I will be the first to admit, I wasn’t a fan midway through the season. I still think there are some major holes in his game. He can’t shoot and I believe he made a living of taking advantage of his size to get to the basket. What is also concerning is that he has had a series of shoulder injuries in his career. His camp has already declined to provide information on his physical to Boston and Phoenix, the two teams picking before the Wolves. It could be strategic since both the Celtics and Suns have point guards that are foundational to their franchises. 

Before diving into this discussion, Britt Robson wrote something similar, but I still had a good amount I wanted to get off of my chest. Please check out his piece. 

Why is Dunn growing on me? For a few reasons. First off, I love defense. More important than that is Thibs loves defense. If the Wolves keep their pick, I have to imagine that the player that is drafted is a player that can play defense. Dunn is a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year where he averaged 2.6 steals this last season. Dunn’s 6-4 athletic frame paired with a 6-10 wingspan is something that could disrupt opposing ball handlers.

Dunn also can rebound, pass and score. Not only was he the Defensive Player of the Year, but he was also the back-to-back Big East Player of the Year. This season he averaged 16.4ppg, 6.4apg and 5.2rpg. His advanced stats are also nice. He has an offensive rating of 106 and defensive rating of 95 while having a 28% usage over the last two seasons. What really makes him stand out though is that his offensive and defensive Win Share and Box-Plus-Minus are basically equal. That means he is a damn good two-way player. To be honest, he may be the best two-way player in the draft. 

Dunn is also growing on me because I really dislike risk, especially in the draft. Dunn is an experienced player who has played two seasons at a high-level. He is one of the most NBA-ready players entering the draft. At 22, he can still grow with the other Wolves young players. He could be a starter in the league but could also have a Marcus Smart-type of role for the Wolves. 

Speaking of his role, there is a reason why Dunn is eyeing the Wolves roster. He isn’t only interested in the plethora of talent that is on the roster. He believes he can break into the rotation and earn a significant role with the team. Before withdrawing his name from the draft last season, DraftExpress.com projected Dunn to be the 13th pick in the draft. You know whom that is ahead of? The 24th pick, Tyus Jones. You have to imagine that Kris Dunn’s camp is eying Tyus Jones current role as the backup point guard. Dunn can score and defend better than Jones and both are probably at the same level in terms of being a ‘floor general.’ 

The other thing that isn’t mentioned enough is Ricky Rubio’s future. A disclaimer is that I love Ricky. I am a part of the problem though. I can’t imagine this team as performing better without Ricky Rubio. Dunn could be the future starting point guard of the Wolves. And if he is capable of being that, as Robson mentioned, it’s a good problem to have. There is the possibility that Rubio and Dunn can coincide in smaller lineups or in a ‘death’ defensive lineup with Rubio/Dunn/Wiggins/ Dieng/ KAT. 

The reality of the situation is that, the Wolves don’t really need another wing or another sub-par power forward. The Wolves could use some consistency and security at point guard. Picking Dunn could mean that Shabazz has a future for at least another season with the Wolves. Dunn’s scoring could also be extremely helpful off of the bench alongside Shabazz. Adding Dunn is making more sense by the day.

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Just Trade the Pick

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.

Wolves All-Time (Missed) Draft Picks Team

In Light of the recent 2009 Draft T-shirt (as seen below) that appeared at Tuesday’s game against the Spurs, we decided to publish the Wolves All-Time Missed Draft Picks Team.

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via BleacherReport

If you are a Wolves fan, you probably look back at every draft and think ‘We could’ve drafted X instead of Y’. Its natural. All decisions are inherently easier in retrospect because, well the choices have played themselves out in which you can see the final product. I am sure there are reasons why we picked the player we picked over the player that would get drafted later. Its life. The point of this isn’t really to prove ‘what could’ve been’ but really just to have fun with it. The draft is essentially a crap shoot and no one really can tell who will be a star and who will be a bust.

The reason this is so interesting to look at for the Wolves is because the Wolves have the longest active streak without a playoff birth. It is now going to be 12 seasons in which the Wolves haven’t made the playoffs. Thats A LOT of lottery picks. Fortunately, the Wolves finally scored a number one pick in Karl-Anthony Towns and acquired a couple the summer before in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.

So, we will pick a player that could’ve been draft at each position. A player that could’ve been a Timberwolves, but the Wolves went in a different, usually wrong, direction. Rules are the player needs to have been picked after the Wolves pick and only one player per draft. I try to make it a similar position so it is realistic, but in the event that it isn’t, it needs to be a viable option for the Wolves at the time. So without further ado, I present to you, the Wolves All-Time Missed Draft Pick Team:

PG – Stephen Curry (2009 Draft. Wolves Drafted Johnny Flynn 6th overall)

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KAAHHHHNN! Ah, the one that hurts the most. Thank you David Kahn. Its good to tear the band-aid off quick here because none of them hurt as much as this one. The Wolves shockingly picked two true point guards back to back in Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn. Curry was taken 7th right after. It didn’t make any sense 7 years ago and doesn’t make sense now. Steph Curry would lead the Warriors to a championship and win MVP last season. He is the best player in the league today and breaking every 3-point shooting record possible. And Johnny Flynn has been out of the league for a couple years now. Demar DeRozan and 7 other more capable points than Flynn were also available. The T-shirt that appeared at the Wolves game was a wonderful reminder of this disaster. Of course Curry never worked out for the Wolves which indicated he didn’t want to play here. This one will always hurt.

SG- Kobe Bryant (1996 Draft. Wolves Drafted Ray Allen 5th overall)

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This one isn’t fair. We drafted Ray Allen then traded for Stephon Marbury. Which isn’t bad at all. You couldn’t predict Marbury wanting out. Kobe and KG could’ve been beautiful together. But many teams didn’t take a chance on Kobe and it seemed like  Kobe was headed to the Lakers in some way, shape, or form. But out of respect to Kobe, we technically did pass on him. So he makes the team.

SF – Kawhi Leonard (2011 Draft. Wolves Draft Derrick Williams 2nd overall)

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Derrick Williams was a clear 2nd best talent in the 2011 draft after the Wolves had gotten jumped in the lottery by the Cavaliers out of nowhere to take Kyrie Irving. But Kawhi Leonard is an absolute stud now after winning Finals MVP and a championship with the Spurs. Its always hard to tell if Leonard would’ve developed into the player he is today if it wasn’t for the Spurs Organization. But if you want a consolation prize, there were many other good players in this draft that went later. Klay Thompson and later on Jimmy Butler were all taken to name a couple. Derrick himself seemed to be his own biggest hurdle. He was stuck between a 3 and 4, couldn’t defend either, and never could solidify himself in the league.

PF- Shawn Marion (1999 Draft. Wolves Drafted Wally Szczerbiak 6th overall)

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Tough one here. Wally was absolutely a solid player in his time in Minnesota as he made the All Star game once. But the Matrix was among the top players in the league for a while. Marion was versatile enough to play the 3 and 4 and did so much on the court, namely play defense. There was always a lot of speculation as to how far the Wolves could’ve gone with KG and Marion on the same team, especially during the 03-04 season. Marion could’ve easily played in the role of Trenton Hassell alongside Garnett, Sprewell, and Cassell. The main reason Wally didn’t start that season was due to injury, which plagued his career and is unforeseeable, and being a liability on the defensive end. Could the Wolves have won a championship with the Matrix on that team? We will never know. The second option here would’ve been the Wolves draft Donyell Marshal over Juwan Howard.

C- DeMarcus Cousins (2010 Draft. Wolves Drafted Wesley Johnson 4th overall)

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Paul George would be the other option. But Cousins was absolutely an option at pick 4. The Wolves needed a center as Darko was the starter and Al Jefferson was on his way out. Cousins has put up monster stats and is probably the best center in the league today. Wes Johnson was an absolute bust. This should be an easy one to agree with.

 

Do you agree with who made the Wolves All-Time Missed Draft Picks Team? Let us know!