Timberwolves Need to Take Chances With Five Draft Picks


As you can tell by the last few posts, we are looking to the  positivity that is the future around here.  There will be very little talk about Kevin McHale as a GM, or the cause and effect of the secret Joe Smith deal, Randy Foye for Brandon Roy, or William Avery and  Ndudi Ebi.

We will continue with forward vision to ensure the betterment of this team.   Because, at this point, we really have nothing else to hold on to.

That was pathetic and dramatic, but true.

Currently, the Wolves enter the draft in a great position with a ton of options.  With three first round picks and two second round picks, the Wolves will come away from this draft a better team with more talent – unless they trade Al Jefferson.  With so many picks, I expect the Wolves to take some chances on players with talent and upside in the second round, but may also have questions surrounding the “character” and willingness to be a team player.

Let’s take a look at a few players that Wolves will have to consider with later picks, but first, a disclaimer.

If the Wolves had only two picks instead of five, I would not draft any of these players.  When a team has fewer picks, the main goal is to maximize each pick in their current situation and while certain players are talented – DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside – drafting a player with question marks around their personality in the lottery, is very dangerous and can sting long-term.

Cincinnati’s Lance Stephenson – Stephenson comes with baggage.  Let’s just get that out there.  He has never be classified as a “character-guy” or “team-first” player, but Stephenson does have the type of game that the Wolves are lacking.

Stephenson is an aggressive, offensive-mind player that can create his own shot.  Even though Stephenson is not the most explosive athlete, he already has the “NBA Body” at 6’6″ 227 and he uses that size to create most of his offense.  Stephenson thinks his game is more complete than it really is, and he needs to either develop a long distance jumper, or stop shooting it.

Oklahoma’s Willie Warren – This guy has the hype and the attitude to go with it.  I heard a story that he didn’t want to be in a photo with Kobe Bryant because he did not want take picture with a guy he would compete with in a few years – and that was in high school.

But Warren is a player.  At 6’4″, some consider him too small to play shooing guard – apparently everyone has forgot about Ben Gordon since he signed in Detroit – but he has that scorers mentality.  He is a very good athlete with a 31.5 inch vertical, is solid at 208 pounds, and has the most complete offensive game of any player in the draft.  And that could not have been said about the other 6’4″ guards the Wolves have recently drafted. If you want to see the perfect example of the double-edged sword that is Willie Warren, watch this youtube clip.

West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks – Started the season suspend for three games and then broke hand in a fight with a teammate.  Like Warren, if teams were picking on talent alone he would be a first round pick.  But they aren’t.

Ebanks had a very unimpressive year, when the expectations had him becoming a very good “Robin” to DeSean Butler’s “Batman”, but he has the is a player that makes teams want.  Ebanks is 6’9″, has a 32-inch vertical, rebounds, gets to the rim and plays at a high rate. As for his fit with the Wolves, he seems a lot like Corey Brewer – not ideal, but good off the bench.

Xavier’s Jordan Crawford – He have all seen the “dunk on LeBron”, but that was nothing compared to his performances in the NCAA tournament.  Like Warren, Crawford was asked to handled the ball in college, but excels as the scorer.

Crawford is 6’5″, has a 6’7″ wing span,  a 34.5-inch vertical, can get to the basket and finish, and knock shots from range.  For me, he is a great option off the bench and the best player on your second team, adding offense and making the opponent’s head coach put the starters back in the game.

Connecticut’s Stanley Robinson – Robinson considered quitting basketball.  Plan and simple.  He had other concerns in his life, like children, and didn’t fully understand the opportunity this game could give him and his family.  Then he came back, found his drive and played his senior season with career highs of 14.5 ppg , 7.6 rpg, and 1.2 blocks a game.

Robinson has been inconsistent and at times, uncommitted.  But he seems to have turn things around.  Robinson gets off the floor like Shawn Marion is his prime and very well may succeed in the NBA in the same way.  He is best in the open court, a willing rebounder, and has a decent mid-range jumper.  He lacks the ability to create his own shot and is very unreliable from distance and the foul line.

West Virginia’s De’Sean Butler – The “risk” with Butler is completely different than the other players.  He has the character, he has the effort, we have seen the results, but he is coming off a major knee injury and can not perform drills for scouts.

Butler is experienced, skilled, smart and clutch.  Even before the injury he was not going to “wow” scouts with jumping ability and most of his offense come of the catch-and shoot, but he can get to the rim and made some very tough finishes.  The Wolves have two second round picks and while Butler may not fully recover for a couple seasons, he is the type of player that would be good for a young team.  And it would be a  great story if Butler makes the roster.

England’s Ryan Richards – I was able to see a few minutes of Richards combine drills on TV, and I was impressed with how well he ran and moved.  At his size, just under 7 feet tall, you worry about how the move.  But Richards got up and down the floor well and look to be pretty light on his feet.

Richards has the motor and the intangibles that are attractive: 7 feet tall with a 28,5-inch vertical. But he is a risk because he has no offensive game and is physically weak even though he not afraid of contact.  But as a player that is projected in the second round to undrafted, he might be worthy the risk.

Virginia’s Sylven Landsberg – Landsberg was productive during his two season as a Cavalier, minus the art class that he reportedly never attended.  But let’s be honest, that is not the worst thing he could have done.  Landsberg was suspended.

Coming into Virginia with a lot of hype and accolades, Landsberg’s personal ability was over-shadowed be bigger name freshman and poor teams.  Landsberg probably will never have career like Warren, Stephenson or Crawford, but choosing him in the second and asking to play his onto the team may be something he can, and needs, to do.

Other players who might be worth a second-round pick:

  • Syracuse’s Andy Rautins – He is smart, a good passer and does one thing really well – shots the ball.  If nothing else, he would make a good assistant coach.
  • Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody – A player can not be that productive for so long and it be a just a fluke.  But he lacks the athleticism that would make him as productive in the NBA, but he does have the motor and ability to shoot from mid-range.
  • Tennessee’s Tyler Smith – Even though he was kicked off the team, Smith is talented.  Jack of all trades, that may fit better with a veteran team than the Wolves.  But he would contribute right away.
  • UTEP’s Derrick Caracter – Left Louisville to rediscover his game – and leave Rick Patino.  Stands 6’10” and weighs 280 – his weight is a concern.  He can score and rebound, but seems to lack motivation off the court, in conditioning and on defense.