You can’t say it was a boring night.
To no ones surprise, the Wolves took Wes Johnson at No. 4 and they made trades. Here is a quick recap as to what the Wolves walked away with from ESPN.com:
- Round 1: Wesley Johnson (4), Lazar Hayward (30, obtained from Washington)
- Round 2: Nemanja Bjelica (35, obtained from Washington), Paulo Prestes (45t h)
- The Wolves drafted Luke Babbitt at No. 16 and later traded him and Ryan Gomes to Portland for Martell Webster.
- The Wolves took Trevor Booker with the 23rd pick and then traded him and the 56th pick for 30th and 35th pick.
Let’s start at the beginning. I completely agree with the Wolves picking Johnson, but I also get everyone who is saying DeMarcus Cousins was a better pick. But here is why Johnson was the right pick.
- Johnson is talented. Very talented. I listened to the KFAN broadcast of the first round and it seemed the callers and the announcers were excited about his shooting, which is impressive. Last season at Syracuse, he shoot 42% from distance, 50% from the floor, and 77% from the foul-line. But Johnson also grabbed 8.5 rebounds a game and has a 37.5 inch vertical. He is more than “just a shooter”.
- The biggest knock on Cousins was his “maturity”. More so, how he fought with John Calipari all the time. Cousins seems to have an issue with an authority. With a young team like the Wolves, an individual’s issues can spread throughout the team quickly. Plus, Johnson is going to work hard-can’t guarantee that with Cousins.
- If the Wolves had taken Cousins, the would have another post player who struggles defensively. DraftExpress.com actually compares Cousins to these NBA players; Best Case: Taller Al Jefferson and Worst Case: Derrick Coleman/Eric Dampier. Is that what the Wolves really need? Another player in the mode of a player they are looking to trade. Don’t think so.
- Johnson has strengths that were weakness for the Wolves last season. The Wolves were not a good three-point shooting team and really did not have a single player teams feared from distance. The team shot 34% from behind the arc which ranked 23rd in the league – tied with the LA Lakers.
All in all, Johnson is the better choice. Cousins is a risk and I am not sure you take that chance with the No. 4 pick with a team like the Wolves.
So let’s move on to the selection of Luke Babbitt at No. 16. I was happy. As I wrote before, Babbitt was a player that the Wolves needed. But the need demises with the Wolves choosing Johnson. If Derrick Favors or Evan Turner would have been available or the Wolves went with Cousins, you keep Babbitt. But after drafting Johnson, it does not make sense to keep him.
The Wolves then packaged Babbitt with Ryan Gomes and sent them to Portland for Martell Webster. That did not make me happy – at first.
Gomes is a decent bench player, but he was not going to be a major player in the Wolves future. But why Webster when all we heard was the Wolves wanted Nicholas Batum? Currently, Webster is a better player than Batum and Webster will play the shooting guard spot. Webster is 6’7″ and is only 23 years-old, even though he has played in the league five seasons. Last season he averaged 9.4 ppg, shot 40% from the floor and 37% from 3-point range. He also shot 81% from the foul-line.
Webster played all 82 games last season after only playing one in the previous season. He played an average of 24.5 minutes a game and also grabbed 3.3 rebounds a game. I am excited to see what he will do with even more minuted and more touches.
So going into next season the Wolves are looking at a starting line-up of Jonny Flynn, Webster, Johnson, Jefferson, and Darko Milicic. With Ramon Sessions, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer, Hayward and others off the bench. I would imagine we will still see a good deal of Brewer early on in crunch time. Upgrade.
To be honest, I will have to do a little more checking to find out about the other picks not named Lazar Hayward.
I have seen various draft recaps giving the Wolves a grade in the B-C range, and I am unsure what I would give the choices. One major need that was not addressed a defensive post player. And there were players available at every pick. Maybe that is a free-agency concern.
However, I am excited about Johnson. He gives the Wolves a great personality, stunning fashion seen, and he is a player defenders will be concerned about from day one.