Long and athletic. Long and athletic. Long and athletic. The familiar refrain was endlessly repeated by Flip Saunders’ predecessor. First it sounded spot-on, then it became iffy, tired, and eventually a cruel joke that was continually bandied about by disparaged and masochistic Wolves fans in an endless narrative about the front office’s embarrassing lack of competency. The same phrase was tauntingly bashed over our heads for the past four fruitless, frustrating years, and those two words can no longer be used in tandem in the presence of long-suffering Wolves fans.
Even though we absolutely cannot use the flagship Kahnsian phrase in everyday conversation, and especially not while partaking in the yearly Minnesotan ritual of discussing obsessing over potential selections in the upcoming NBA Draft, let’s not let the description of the exact players that the Wolves’ need ring too hollow and distant. There is a significant amount of irony that lies in David Kahn’s endless search for long and athletic players, as the current roster lacks precisely that, and his successor is charged with filling in the gaps that were left behind.
While the 2013 NBA Draft class is largely considered to be a below-average crop of players, there seems to be a certain depth of rotation-level players, even in the apparent dearth of potential all-stars in the overall group. For once, the positions that are sorely lacking in apparent first-round talent are the very positions that the Wolves are well-stocked at in point guard and power forward. There are a host of centers, and depending on the future of incumbent and restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic and the status of decent back-up Greg Stiemsma (his 2013-14 contract is not fully guaranteed), Minnesota could be in the market for a big man.
But more likely, the Wolves will search to acquire multiple wing players, as has been their goal over the past few off-seasons, yet without much luck to this point. Assuming the club is able to re-sign Rick Adelman-favorite Chase Budinger and Andrei Kirilenko also returns (he has an opt-out and may re-sign to a longer deal), the Wolves would still like to add at least one shooting guard or small forward while likely jettisoning either J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour in order to further balance the roster.
There will probably be four or five wings selected in the top ten picks of the first round in this year’s draft, and with the Wolves currently slotted to select at #9. For the next three-plus weeks, we’ll debate whether or not (and if so, how) Flip Saunders should trade up to select one of the top-three wings in the draft, who all should be off the board in the first five picks. We’ll look at what the Wolves’ draft board should look like, what it probably looks like, and how the draft will likely play out around the league.
Stay tuned, and enjoy a flurry of 2013 NBA Draft analysis, all from the perspective of your Minnesota Timberwolves.