Jan 20, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders reacts during the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Flip Saunders' New Direction

There’s a gamble in any draft pick. The NBA has so many cautionary tales about the worst number ones in history, or the worst busts drafted number two overall — it’s beyond arbitrary to note who was drafted at what pick ten or three years ago. Every year there are old redshirt players and injured players and Euro-superstars and hyped underclassmen that come out in different volumes and distort the field. A run on shooting guards or point guards can slide the best big man in his class almost out of the top ten. And yet, here the Wolves are at number nine trying to decide if they trust the guy in charge of evaluating all the information (or lack of it) at his disposal.

Regardless, a truly epic post by Zach Harper at A Wolf Among Wolves.

I think that Rick Adelman can handle the job of molding the talent, which means I have to decide if I think Saunders has an innate eye for talent with basketball or if he just got lucky during those years of minor league scouting being a way of survival. I’m not sure if I fully trust the idea that Saunders has a great eye for talent because of his time in the CBA. It’s not that I don’t believe it; I’m just often a skeptical person when it comes to this stuff. That evaluation of his evaluations sounds great and it could definitely translate to this job right now, but I’ll take a couple grains of salt with it.

The main reason I have pause with it is because of the drafting woes the Wolves had while Flip was here as the coach. It’s not necessarily fair to judge him by that. Kevin McHale was making the decisions on which players to draft, but with many organizations, the personnel decision-maker is often working with the coaching staff and especially the head coach. When the Wolves draft Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen/Stephon Marbury, was that Flip with McHale or was that McHale? Were Paul Grant and Ndubi Ebi with Flip’s influence or just a hunch from McHale? Would we have had a better look at the picture of evaluating how the packaged deal that included Flip drafted if McHale hadn’t squandered four first round picks by making an illegal offer to Joe Smith?

I trust Flip Saunders to find good talent, but I’m not fully invested yet and I think I’m fine with that. The idea that he’s not Kahn will only get him so far and we have no idea if that means things are a little better or if it means things are a lot better.

He’ll have to earn our trust and that begins with what happens in this draft. As of right now, here are some mock draft projections for the Wolves at the 9th and 26th picks:

Chad Ford’s ESPN.com Mock Draft: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG at 9; Sergey Karasev, SF at 26.

Draft Express Mock Draft: Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF at 9; Glen Rice, SF at 26.

Chris Mannix’s SI.com Mock Draft: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG at 9; Reggie Bullock, SF at 26.

Jonathan Tjarks’ SB Nation Mock Draft: Victor Oladipo, SG at 9; Rudy Gobert, C at 26.

Scott Howard-Cooper’s NBA.com Mock Draft: Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF at 9; Tony Mitchell, SF/PF at 26.

Hoops Report Mock Draft: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG at 9; Sergey Karasev, SF at 26.

The consensus with a lot of the draft people I trust reading is either C.J. McCollum with the ninth pick, which would be kind of like a do-over on the Randy Foye experience. McCollum is a better player than Foye was, in my opinion, although the lack of elite competition could leave doubts with how well he’ll play at the NBA level. Also, he’s kind of small for a shooting guard but I think we need to divorce ourselves from the idea that a lottery pick has to be a future All-Star, especially with this draft class. I don’t think this is a bad draft class like has been projected. I think there is plenty of talent to slide into rotations and really help teams out. I just don’t think we’re going to see a ton of future All-Stars.

I love the shooting stroke and composure in his shooting motion that McCollum possesses. I think he could be a 6th man for this team that can play next to Ricky Rubio in a lot of lineups. I don’t think we should have him be the full-time shooting guard, necessarily, because it would be cool if we had a regular-sized 2-guard next to Rubio. But I would not have a problem with the Wolves drafting McCollum at 9.

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Tags: C.j. Mccollum Flip Saunders Kentavious Caldwell-pope NBA Draft Rick Adelman

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