Unfortunately for Wolves fans, this time of year has been the most exciting over the past three seasons. It’s a time to speculate on what steps your team can make to get back to the playoffs and start making some noise. In negative news, the Wolves and their "braintrust" got the 3rd pick in an advertised two-man draft. In positive news, we have positive debate in the forums on what to do with the pick and it’s good to hear we don’t have to listen to a country-music station to listen to the Wolves next year.
With all of the debate raging over what to do with the draft pick, it’s important to remember that the Wolves have to make some decisions on its existing roster. Here at the Twolves Blog, we want to continue the discussions about this teams direction with in our series, the "Blogprint for the Future," which will include contributions from various TWolvesBlog contributors and guests, as this team transforms during the off-season.
Contributors to this edition:
Previous Editions of the Blogprint:
#1: Our #3 overall Lottery Pick and Wolves Free-Agents.
#2: What is the time frame on the Wolves becoming contenders?
In today’s edition, my esteemed colleagues and I reexamine our thoughts on what the Wolves should do with the #3 pick in the NBA draft, which happens to be next Thursday night. Should we trade it? If not, after dissecting a plethora of workout information and new findings about the various prospects, has anything changed in our decision(s) about who the Wolves should draft? Also, as a special little bonus for the KG and the Boston Celtics winning the 2007-08 NBA Finals, we discuss where KG now stands in the annals of history.
Please click "Read More" for the analysis of this edition’s topic.
Blogprint For The Future #3:
"With updated information regarding the draft prospects and workouts, have you changed your mind on who the Wolves should draft #3? Or, should they perhaps look into trading the pick? If so, what should we expect to get back in return?
Bonus: Now that KG has won a championship, where do you think he stands in NBA History?"
Stop-n-Pop: I keep going back and forth on the subject of whether or not this year’s draft is a good one or not. There seems to be a consensus with the top two picks and many Wolves fans would like to believe that OJ Mayo makes this affair a menagetrois at the top. While I’m not sure that Derrick Rose belongs in the same top-pick conversation as Michael Beasley, there does seem to be a significant gap between the talent at the top and the rest of the draft. The question for Wolves fans is twofold: where is the gap and are the players on the wrong side of the tracks worth a damn? The answer for the Wolves is both good and bad. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first.
OJ Mayo is not in the top tier of this draft. He is a 6’4" combo guard who will likely be a solid pro but whose jumper-based offensive game, solid defense, and average size will guarantee him many years in the league while never achieving the superstar status that many Wolves fans think they see in him. If ever there were a guard with a game that *did not* scream "I’m a star," it is OJ Mayo. Everything about the young man is workmanlike and he could end up somewhere between Chauncey Billups and Gary Payton, not Kobe Bryant and Alan Iverson. You can’t go wront with a pick like this, but I just don’t see the top end talent like many others do.
One of the most common schools of thought with Wovles fans in regards to Mayo is that he is the 1b star that is needed to pair with Big Al in order to take the Wolves to the next level. In other words: He’s the scoring mate that KG never had. Unfortunately, this hopeful thought simply doesn’t match up with Mayo’s track record or his style of play. Go take a look at Randy Foye’s senior season. Now take a look at Mayo’s freshman campaign. Take a look at their height, reach, size, and strength. Take a look at how each player relied on the 3 ball. Take a look at how each player was a volume shooter. It’s pretty hard to think of a player in this draft that duplicates what Randy Foye already brings to the table more than OJ Mayo.
Earlier in the year, the two biggest fan complaints were this: a) the Wolves need a true point guard, and b) the Wolves need a true center. While I won’t hold it against anyone for trotting away from either of these opinions, it is funny how quickly point a has morphed into "the Wolves need another Randy Foye". Unless OJ Mayo is a 25-30% improvement over the Wolves’ 2006 1st round draft pick (or unless they have a plan to trade him for additional assets), he’s simply not worth the pick, especially if the rest of the draft is filled with players that could develop into solid starters (in other positions) on par with Mayo. And so goes the good news…
OJ Mayo, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, Joe Alexander, and Brook Lopez are all going to be solid NBA players. Even players further down in the draft like Brandon Rush, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Kosta Koufos, and Courtney Lee have "solid NBA contributors" written all over them. While this draft may only have 1 (maybe 2) top end talents, it does have a collection of solid players above and beyond what has been available in the past 2 drafts. I strongly believe this draft has the potential to be one of the great role player drafts in recent memory. Young players like Alexander, Westbrook, Love, and Rose all have taken a very professional approach to the draft process and their hard work and dedication should pay off in the form of long careers in the Association. No matter who the Wolves pick (even if it’s Mayo), it’s pretty hard for them to screw this pick up. In fact, if ever there was a year to move the pick for additional assets, this is the year to do it.
Getting around to the nuts and bolts of this Blogprint, if the Bulls do the unthinkable and pass on the BPA (as well as the guy who best fits their needs), the Wolves should do whatever they can to facilitate a trade with Miami for Michael Beasley (who will not slip past the 2nd pick). If such a trade is unworkable, they should immediately try and trade down to a team that has their eyes on OJ Mayo. As long as they can walk away with Joe Alexander, Kevin Love, or Danilo Gallinari + an additional asset like Kyle Lowry, David Lee, or an additional pick, they come out on the positive end of things. How does this work? At the end of the day, Mayo + Foye will never be greater than Lowry + Foye + Love or Lee + Foye + Alexander. There’s simply not that big of a gap between Foye and Mayo to make it otherwise.
Finally, the only way the Wolves should consider trading Beasley if the unthinkable happens and he lands in the 3rd spot, is if the Bucks offer their pick + Andrew Bogut for Beasley. The Wolves could still walk away with one of the Gallinari/Alexander/Love trio while landing one of the best young centers in the league.
As for KG’s legacy, I’m kind of ambivalent towards his success in Boston. On one hand, by winning the championship he showed all of us back here in ‘Sota that the Spree/Cassell approach could have worked with a few more tweaks/upgrades, but on the other hand, to ignore KG’s contract, sweatheart deals for buddies like T-Hud, and the last 3 years up here in the cold is revisionist history, as is any attempt to ignore the fact that the only reason he left in the first place was because he could get a contract extension as well as a cherry picked lineup that was supplimented during the year by the type of nonsense mid-season additions that the NBA is increasingly being known for. In fact, my thoughts about the Celtics title are affected more by the addition of the joker Cassell than by anything done by KG. At the end of the day, KG only moved when he was assured that his massive contract would live to see another salary-cap-killing day (and sometime during the 2010/11 season Boston fans will be wondering what to do with that much money on the books) and he spent more time in his post game celbration shouting out Adidas marketing slogans than he did shouting out to his beloved Sota.
Finally, the most notable thing about the Finals, to me, is that for all the hype and buildup associated with the NBA’s marquee matchup, the on court action turned out to be as "exciting" as your average Spurs-led series. Without the green and the banners, this year’s Celts are a carbon copy of Spurs basketball. They have an all-time great frontcourt player surrounded by 2 scorers and some solid role players. They also believe in efficient offense and tip-top defense. It would have been nice to see KG vs. Duncan in the Finals. Here’s hoping it happens next time around… without Cassell of course.
TheOldLogo: "With updated information regarding the draft prospects and workouts, have you changed your mind on who the Wolves should draft #3?"
As I said in the first Blogprint, I would have taken Lopez prior to workouts and analysis, but that I could easily be swayed as more information came out. All it really took was the video of Jim Peterson stuffing Lopez to make me change my mind. As of now, my preference would be Beasley (if he drops or if we can get a trade without having to take on Banks or Blount) first, then either Mayo or Love. Basically, if we end up with Beasley, Mayo or Love, I’ll be satisfied.
"Should they perhaps look into trading the pick?"
I think they should trade the pick only if it gets them one of the three above and moves a couple of players around. If Mayo is the guy, I would assume we would just pick him. In that case, I think we have to look into trading McCants away. If Love is the guy and we can move down a pick or two and make a good deal, I think that works. If Beasley is the guy and we can trade up to get him without taking on an awful contract, I think that’s the route. In any scenario, I think we should keep and develop one of those three players.
"Now that KG has won a championship, where do you think he stands in NBA History?"
I’m glad I have a chance to answer this question here, as I haven’t really talked about KG since I joined this site as a contributor. One of the reasons I don’t talk about KG much is the same reasons he has for taking the high road when Glen Taylor makes stupid comments about his passion. KG said he’s a Celtic now and that’s where he is. Well, I’m one of those fans who pull for my teams first and individual players second. That being said, of all the players I have rooted for in my life, KG is my third favorite just behind Kent Hrbek (spent my entire childhood rooting for Hrbek), Michael Jordan, then KG (who is just barely above Puckett). I was 7 when the Twins won in 1987 and 11 in 1991, so I only watched and remembered Puckett’s prime and unfortunate demise. However, I was a Timberwolves fan since day 1 of the franchise and, subsequently, a KG fan since he was a rookie.
What does this do for him now? Well, for one, it ends what seemed like the inevitable inclusion of KG’s name in the discussion "Who is the best player never to win a championship?" conversations. It also, at the very least, gives some weight to the KG v. Duncan argument, and I passionately argued that KG was the better player up until the end of last season when KG missed the playoffs three straight times. Now, although I remain steadfast in my opinion that KG is the overall better basketball player, Duncan is the greatest power forward and, unless KG wins more championships (very possible) and does them in the dominating manner Duncan did in his finals, Duncan still is the better winner. HOPEFULLY, we can get Duncan v. KG in the finals in the next couple of seasons while they’re still near the top of their games.
Aside from the KG/Duncan angle, in my mind his legacy in NBA history is now this: He completely revolutionized how seven-foot players can play the game. There are a lot of KG clones out there now, but he’s the only one that does everything well (except maybe ball handling, for which he’s average). He is one of the truly unique players to ever play the game, his name can now be included in the next "Top 50 players" of all time team, and, at the very least, you won’t be laughed out of a room or called a homer for including him in a Top 20 players of all time conversation.
COLLEGE WOLF: I’m quite a bit more apprehensive than I was at this time when we did our first “Blogprint of the Future”, in regards to who the Wolves should draft. I just continue to get a sinking feeling in my stomach that our Front Office is going to somehow mess this draft up. It might not be a catastrophic screw-up on the level of Ndudi Ebi v2.0, but I am prepared for anything at this point. I think the biggest mistake will be if the Wolves pass on the “BPA” (Best Player Available), and concoct some convoluted trade to move down so that we can fill a “need.” (This is where we all collectively cringe and then drink to excess when Brook Lopez or Kevin Love’s name is announced.)
By now, I think 99% of all Wolves fans would agree that the ideal draft scenario is Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley falling to us at #3. But let’s face it, this just is not going to happen. Therefore, I honestly believe that the next BPA is OJ Mayo, in terms of the overall package. Even if Kevin Love was more athletic than he is (a.k.a. more than not at all), we just don’t need him. Drafting Love keeps Al Jefferson at Center for as long as Love is on the team. Various “Stat Guru’s” and “Wolves Rubes” will be able to tell you that Al Jefferson at Center is far inferior to Al Jefferson at Power Forward. So then, are we going to play Kevin Love at Center? If so, all I would say to the Wolves Brass is good luck with that. I know that the league has “gone smaller” over the past few years, but a 6’9”, un-athletic, slow, and average defending Center is not going to get it done in the Western Conference. Amazingly, even worse than drafting Kevin Love, would be drafting Brook Lopez. At this point, I think everyone knows enough about his workout to say “Thanks, but no thanks” to Lopez. If getting rejected repeatedly by Jim Peterson isn’t enough of a red flag, I don’t know what else is. Combine this with the fact that he tested awfully at the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp (overall, one of the slowest and least athletic players invited), and I don’t think it should be too hard to pass on him, rather than drafting him because he fills our need for a Center. There will be ample opportunities to select a Center further down in the first or second round.
If we keep our #3 pick, this leaves us with OJ Mayo as the BPA, and I think we should take him, despite how crowded our backcourt would become. If they are properly motivated, our Front Office should conceivably be able to trade Randy Foye or Rashad McCants for some decent asset(s). Mayo is bigger and more athletic than either of McFoye. He is also a better shooter from downtown, and more inclined to take it to the hoop. Lastly, his defense is somewhere between “above-average” to “very good.” Don’t take this the wrong way, but anyone that thinks either of McFoye is anything more than an average defender (at best) is delusional. Basically, Mayo is better across the board than either of McFoye, and has been widely panned as a top level talent since he was in 8th grade. Lastly, the Wolves still do need a stud point guard, and I would argue that a 20 year old Mayo has a better chance of developing into a star at the PG position than does a 25 year old Randy Foye (or Telfair/Marko Jaric.)
For the most part, I love Stop-N-Pop’s various crazy/unique trades that he is perpetually dreaming up; but I don’t completely agree with him in this situation. What does trading down with Memphis for their #5 pick net us? Kyle Lowry? What does trading down with New York for their #6 pick next us? Maybe David Lee? No thanks, I’ll pass on both. I’d much rather that the Wolves get Mayo instead of Kevin Love + Lowry or Lee. Heck, McHale might end up trading one of our first round picks just to trade down for the chance to draft Love. Anything is possible with him! All joking aside, the one trade that I really did like (proposed by SNP), was with Milwaukee for their #8 pick. SNP proposed that we trade Beasley (if we somehow get him) for the Bucks #8 pick and Andrew Bogut. I’ve heard rumors that the Bucks are trying to trade regardless, and maybe it wouldn’t take Beasley. If this were the case, I would trade our #3 pick in an instant for Bogut and the #8. Bogut is quickly (and quietly) developing into one of the better young Centers in the league; and would fit in quite nicely next to Big Al. We could still land someone like Gallinari, Eric Gordon, Anthony Randolph, Joe Alexander, Russell Westbrook, etc. Heck, I could probably even live with Love at #8 if we were able to get Bogut, but that wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. Not Brook Lopez though, I honestly don’t think we should draft him under any scenario; well, I guess unless he drops to #31 in the draft.
“Now that KG has won a championship, where do you think he stands in NBA History?”
Deep down I truly believe that KG is now “certified.” Or, you could perhaps say he has been “vindicated.” Call it what you will; but KG has finally proven the haters wrong that said he would never win anything. Granted, he had some help, but The Big Ticket was obviously an integral part of the Boston Celtics 2007-08 Championship from the get go. The Celtics could not have won the title without Garnett, and he wouldn’t have won it without Pierce, Ray Allen, and the rest of the supporting cast. Regardless, that should not take away from his (and the C’s) accomplishments of having one of the greatest seasons in NBA history.
As Old Logo said, one can now justifiably argue that KG is legitimately within the “Best 50 of all-time” grouping, without being called a “homer.” He has obviously shed the label of “One of the greatest players to never have won a title”, which is sadly placed upon the likes of Malone, Barkley, Stockton, Webber, etc for the rest of time. Now that he’s got his ring, I’d also argue that KG is one of the Top 5 PF’s to ever play the game. His versatility for a big man was second to none, and his defense is up there with some of the best to ever play. I’m not going to list five PF’s in order of greatness, but the important thing is that KG can now be included the discussion.
Personally, I’m ecstatic that KG and the Celtics won the title, and as a fan I feel like I won as well.
JON MARTHALER: Here’s the problem with the Timberwolves, in their current draft slot at #3: nobody’s worth taking with that pick. Nobody wants Brook Lopez or Kevin Love, at least not enough to draft them at #3, given that Lopez is the second coming of Luc Longley and Love is a whiter, slightly more offensively-talented version of Craig Smith. OJ Mayo would give the Wolves something they already have too much of (think Randy Foye, think Rashad McCants). Heck, according to one team, Michael Beasley isn’t more than 6’7", which doesn’t exactly burnish his next-Derrick Coleman credentials – more like the next Ryan Gomes.
No, beyond Derrick Rose, there isn’t much for Minnesota to covet in this draft, and so the obvious move is to trade down – so obvious, in fact, that Minnesota can expect virtually nothing in return. Given that the Wolves have been working out a lot of mid-first-round guys, like Chris Douglas-Roberts, the rest of the league knows that they must be thinking about dropping in the draft – making it a lot less likely that any other team’s going to blow Minnesota’s socks off with a trade offer. I’d say that trading down might bring back an early second-rounder (Seattle has enough picks to make that happen) or maybe a late first-rounder (I could see Memphis swapping #5 and #28 to move up, if they really had a player they wanted to get – which seems unlikely.) It seems to me that the Wolves will be looking for picks, or cash, or really anything that doesn’t involve taking an established player.
As for the guy taken #5 in 1995: I think Kevin Garnett had already cemented his legacy as one of the 30 greatest players in NBA history, and perhaps one of the most consistently intense. The NBA title, as Garnett himself said, makes him "certified;" who now can argue Garnett’s greatness? He averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds during the Finals, had six double-doubles during that six-game series, averaged 20 and 10 for the entire playoffs – and ended the year with a ring on his finger. He erased a lot of doubts about his ability to produce in crunch time, and erased that one last "no ring" criticism that continues to dog players like Karl Malone and Charles Barkley.
He’ll be remembered as one of the giants of the game. As well he should be.
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