What About the Rest of the Litter?


With all the commotion surrounding international diaper dandy Ricky Rubio, the rest of the Minnesota Timberwolves seemingly endless draft picks from last Thursday have been lost in the shuffle. Other than aggravating Ricky Rubio, what does the Jonny Flynn selection mean? What about Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Nick Calathes and Henk Norel? Rubio was only one of six new pups taken by the Timberwolves last Thursday night, although Calathes and Lawson were immediately dealt as the Wolves could not carry that many rookies next year, let alone that many point guards. Norel is another selection that allows the Wolves to slim the number of rookies that they carry on the roster next season as he will most likely continue to play professional basketball overseas for at least another year or two before the Wolves evaluate where he is in his basketball progression and if they would like to offer him a deal at that time.

That leaves Flynn and Ellington, both college stars and both first round selections. The former is remembered by most for leading his Syracuse team to victory over UConn in a Big East Tournament quarterfinal game lasting six overtimes as he played 67 minutes tallying 34 points and 11 assists. The latter is remembered by most as being a key scoring cog in the high powered UNC offensive machine that ran everybody they played off the court, which ultimately led to a national title.

While Flynn is most notable for his heroics in that famed Big East tournament game, he is no one hit wonder. Averaging over 17 points and nearly 7 assists during his sophomore year at Syracuse, Flynn’s outstanding athleticism combined with this ball-handling ability and excellent ability to shift gears and turn on a dime allowed him to get beat his man off the dribble consistently and earn his way to the free throw line where he finished at nearly an 80% clip. These skills combined with the NBA’s “hands off” perimeter defense that allows minimal perimeter contact will all but guarantee that Flynn’s ability to get to the hoop will translate to the next level. In recent history, this has been a major weakness for the Timberwolves. Unlike former Timberwolf Randy Foye, Flynn can use either hand to get to the rim, and also unlike Foye, Flynn is a legitimate point guard and has the ability to make decisions on the fly in regards to scoring and passing, rather than Foye’s approach of making up his mind before hand and forcing the issue. On the other side of the ball, Flynn’s athleticism and quickness should allow him to become a very solid on the ball defender and stay in front of his man. This is an ability that, for the most part, was untested in his time at Syracuse as Coach Boeheim’s 2-3 zone defense does not necessarily showcase individual defensive prowess. Though Flynn does have some pronounced weaknesses in that he is a bit undersized standing only six feet tall and he needs to work on his perimeter shooting, he has a very nice set of skills and projects to be a very solid NBA player.

While Ellington is more known for his offensive ability than his defensive proficiency, he fills a big need for the Timberwolves. The Wolves recently traded two of their three best three point shooters in Foye and Miller to the Wizards and they were not a very good three point shooting team to begin with. Ellington can step in immediately and bring his trade mark NBA-ready skill, perimeter shooting. He is a nice complimentary piece at shooting guard, as he can fill up the scoring column hitting spot up jumpers and curling off screens. However he is somewhat limited in his ability to put the ball on the floor and create due to his average athleticism, which likely limits his potential to that of a role player.

The two guards complement each other well and both complement the post players already on the roster as Flynn’s drive and dish ability could free up some easy opportunities for Jefferson and Love down low as well as Ellington on the perimeter while Ellington’s perimeter stroke stretches the defense and makes it easier for the big men to post up effectively and for Flynn to drive the lane. While Rubio was clearly the prize of the night, he was far from the only valuable piece that the Minnesota Timberwolves added to their future on draft night. While it is unclear what will happen with Rubio next season and whether or not he will be in a Timberwolves uniform, there are no such questions with either Flynn or Ellington. Both are ready to suit up and step into a back court in desperate need of help.