It’s been about two days since the 2014 NBA Draft occurred, and, like many Timberwolves fans and followers, I have experienced a wide range of emotions surrounding the draft night activity (?) of the hometown squad.
Largely, I’m still disappointed. But then I stop and think about last year’s debacle and I feel a bit better. I mean, it could have been worse, right?
I feel fairly confident in stating that Zach LaVine will not be a good NBA player during the 2014-15 season. That said, he absolutely possess that dreaded thing we call “potential”. And while there is no question about it, drafting LaVine with the 13th overall pick is still not acceptable.
With plenty of players on the board that would tangibly improve the team moving into next season, why take a long-term play? Why gamble on a project if the whole reason that Kevin Love was not already traded for a load of draft picks is because you want your team to “remain competitive”, despite losing it’s best player? If you’re trying to keep Love in the fold and rolling the dice on that possibility (likely what I would do), why would you pick a guy that was barely a positive contributer at UCLA and expect him to improve your current squad and therefore convince your superstar to stick around?
It makes zero sense. What about Gary Harris, a productive player over two seasons at Michigan State? He’s a 6′ 4″ combo guard that could replace J.J. Barea as the backup point guard and occasional running mate with Ricky Rubio. Harris shot 37.6% from three-point range over the course of his career in the Big Ten, and would have been an immediate positive contributer for the Timberwolves.
What about Kyle Anderson, who only slid to #30 due to his lack of athleticism (coincidentally is the only reason why LaVine was drafted in the first round)? Anderson is an exponentially better passer, rebounder, and team defender than LaVine, and shot an identical 37.5% from the three-point line over his UCLA career as LaVine did in his lone season. Of course, Anderson improved from his freshman campaign to shoot a crazy 48.3% from deep last year.
Yep, it’s still frustrating. But it still isn’t Shabazz, so there’s that.
And while the Glen Robinson III pick at #40 softens the blow a bit (Robinson and LaVine are actually very, very similar prospects), selling the other second round picks can absolutely never be explained away. Flip Saunders can talk about how he doesn’t want to bring in guys that don’t fit the program, etc., etc., all he wants, but it does not change the fact that the NBA’s most successful organizations don’t offer up their picks to auction. Look at the Houstons, the Oklahoma Citys, the San Antonios, and the list goes on and on. They don’t sell picks, and if they do, there’s a specific reason for it, not just because ‘why not?’.
I feel better about this draft than I did after the 2013 version, but it still left a sour taste in my mouth, although it’s not like it was a surprise. Let’s hope that Zach LaVine and Glen Robinson III prove me wrong and Flip right moving forward, but I don’t feel great about the prospect of that occurring.
Keep your eyes peeled for some announcements regarding who may be joining the Wolves in Las Vegas Summer League. Play starts in just a couple of weeks, so names should begin to trickle out shortly. More importantly, free agency starts on Tuesday, July 1, so we’ll have a ton of news/notes/rumors surrounding that upcoming event.
As always, we’ll see you back here at DWW for any Kevin Love updates, too. Have a great rest of your weekend.