By the time most Minnesota Timberwolves fans go to sleep tonight, the Wolves will have finally ended the great mystery surrounding the third pick in the NBA draft. Most of us have had well over a month to envision a Wolves team with Al Jefferson and [insert rookie to be drafted here] because the Wolves were in lottery land from day 1 of the season. While the majority of Timberwolves fans had a clear rooting interest in the playoffs thanks to the decade-plus years of service from Kevin Garnett, the second thought on everyone’s mind (other than a generally entertaining playoffs) was who the Wolves would get in this year’s NBA draft. On draft lottery day, we were treated to the gut punch of the third pick in a so-called "two player draft". The only two "Sure Things" in this draft, much like Nicollet Sheridan in the 1985 movie of the same name (man, she’s old), Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose made this draft a supposed two-horse race. However, several candidates have intrigued our front office and there’s been a growing movement out of Miami that OJ Mayo is sneaking up on Michael Beasley like Birdstone on Smarty Jones in the final furlough of the Belmount.
I’m not telling any of you anything new and I’m not going to pretend I am about to. I’m not going to preview the players and possible scenarios because we all have the internet and most of us can read. You’ve all studied the various mock drafts and trade scenarios out there and we should all know the varying strenghts and weaknesses of each player. Barring any outrageaous trades, we know the probably name of our next first-round draft pick (including all realistic trade scenarios) will be Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez or Danillo Gallinari. Throughout a month of forum posting and "Blogprints of the Future", just about everyone here has taken a place in their respective corners. So why so much debate and buzz over this pick? First, because it could be anyone. Second, because our front office is, well, full of surprises.
The Wolves have made some bad draft picks in the past. I’m not talking about the drafts where we can have 20-20 hindsight after a decade of play in the league. I’m talking about the drafts where the front office has taken a flyer on someone nobody projected, passing up proven players or other talents. We all have our opinions on who we should have drafted in years past and who we should draft this year. The problem? None of us, as fans, get to make this pick. On top of that, there is a lot of speculation on what to do with the two early second round picks. Do we take a foreigner and let him develop overseas? If we don’t take a big early, do we try to address it in the second round? Do we try to trade both picks to move up?
In an attempt to be objective (as a quick aside – my personal preference has switched from the Lopez camp at the very beginning to the "if you don’t get Beasley, take Mayo or Love" camp), the Wolves have to approach this draft tonight from an angle that every player is expendable but Al Jefferson. That’s not to say there aren’t other important pieces on this team, but any of the players we draft tonight should be able to replace any starter on this team right now except for Jefferson (sorry, CW, even Gomes). Whether they go big or small with the lottery pick, the goal should be to get Al back to his "natural position", which most people agree is power forward. Every player in this draft coming out is flawed, those flaws are well documeted, so in a short while, we will soon see which direction this team will go.
With the third pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…