Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Can I Help You? Minnesota Timberwolves

Rubio looks to build off of a big rookie year.
For a team that's been historically miserable in the draft, Minnesota may have finally turned it around. By drafting Ricky Rubio and swapping O. J. Mayo for Kevin Love, the signs are there that this team is close to the playoffs. Having their two stars healthy for the whole season is key, but they need to add more talent in the draft.

The Timberwolves are lucky to only be losing three forwards to free agency: Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, and Michael Beasley. Both Anthony's are mediocre players who never lived up to their potential so they're out. As is Beasley, whose talented yet erratic play had him at the center of trade rumors last season.

So the team is pretty much the same as it was last year. Rubio should take over the starting point guard position and Luke Ridnour will shift to a backup role. J. J. Barea is another guard to eat minutes. Shooting guard is a tough position. Wes Johnson, although ineffective, has now shifted to small forward, so the team is left with Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington, and Malcolm Lee. Lee was drafted last year as a defensive specialist, so he's the only important one here, but he's not a starting caliber player. Johnson will probably slide into a backup role and Derrick Williams will take over the starting duties at SF as he looks to live up to his #2 pick hype.

Love is the cornerstone at power forward, but the team found a hidden gem in Nikola Pekovic at center. He broke out last season and has established himself as the new starter. Darko Milicic will play behind him.

So while this team doesn't have a tremendous amount of depth (except point guard), its main need is a shooting guard, and its secondary need is a big man to get minutes off the bench for Love.

At this point, Dion Waiters will probably be gone. Austin Rivers probably will be too, but it's not impossible to think he could still be available. I first mocked Rivers to Minnesota, but I don't like him as a prospect. I think his game can succeed in the NBA, but individually, not in a team setting. He certainly wouldn't be a bad option here, but I caution the pick.

Lamb is a cool 'Cat under pressure.
Instead, take a look at Doron Lamb from Kentucky. Lamb was the go-to guy for an extremely talented Wildcats' squad last year. He was their most consistent scorer, and when they needed a basket, he would give it to them. His leadership and offense would be extremely valuable to the T-Wolves. Another option is John Jenkins from Vanderbilt, although with Minnesota's luck, he'd likely turn into a one-dimensional shooter and get lost in the shuffle.

The team also has the third to last pick in the draft, which they should use on a power forward. Since it's so late in the draft, they'll have to dig deep here. Greg Mangano from Yale is a big man who has the ability to shoot threes. However, he strays to the perimeter too much, and he's not as valuable as Love who also hits the deep ball. Kyle O'Quinn from Norfolk St. would be a physical rebounder and give Minnesota a frontcourt that can effectively clean the glass for 48 minutes a night. Mitchell Watt is an athletic post player and big time scorer, as evident in his play at Buffalo.

Selecting Lamb and Watt is the way to go here. That would give the T-Wolves a starting squad of Ricky Rubio, Doron Lamb, Derrick Williams, Kevin Love, and Nikola Pecovic, and a bench consisting of J. J. Barea, Luke Ridnour, Malcolm Lee, Wes Johnson, Mitchell Watt, and Darko Milicic. Call me crazy, but I think that that team could possibly make the postseason if it stays healthy.

Tomorrow, I attack another mess in the Orlando Magic.

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