Timberwolves Draft Scenarios: Guards

Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Buddy Hield (24) reacts during the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men
Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Buddy Hield (24) reacts during the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men /

While the power forward position is deep in this year’s draft, there are likely just three guard prospects legitimately contending to be taken with the fifth pick, which of course, Timberwolves’ selection.

With a remaining crop of guards that doesn’t seem likely to bear much fruit for Minnesota, all three potential selections figure to be meriting serious consideration from the Wolves at #5.

If Tom Thibodeau elects to draft a guard with his first-ever draft pick as a front office executive, those watching will stand to learn something about his roster-building ideologies. We know  that he needs a shooter, he covets defenders, and he wants to field a competitive team immediately. The question that remains is how strongly each of those needs will affect his decision-making, particularly if he is forced to choose between them.

Let’s take a look at the three aforementioned possibilities that could be on the board at pick #5 in next week’s draft.

Buddy Hield

Many see Hield as the presumptive pick for the Timberwolves, simply based on fit with the current roster. He’s the best shooter in the draft, played a full four years of college basketball at Oklahoma, and figures to be available with the fifth pick.

His defense leaves something to be desired (though Thibodeau may be able to get something out of his 6’-9″ wingspan), but he checks out as a shooter that should be able to contribute as a rookie.

The issue with taking Hield is that the draft is not a reliable place to get immediate talent. If Thibodeau is looking for a proven shooter, why not go one step further and get a proven NBA shooter? Taking Hield may not be a bad move, but it hardly seems like the best possible option for next year’s record. It would be a risk-averse decision that lacks creativity but fills a need.  For a team with a promising core, that may not be a bad thing.

Jamal Murray

Mar 19, 2016; Des Moines, IA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) dunks the ball against Indiana Hoosiers guard James Blackmon Jr. (1) in the first half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

Unlike Hield, there is a solid chance that Murray will be taken before the Timberwolves are on the clock. If the Kentucky combo guard slides, it will put Thibodeau at an ideological crossroads. Will he take the more polished prospect (Hield) or the player with greater long-term potential (Murray)?

It would be difficult for him to stray from the most-proven shooter in the draft, but common wisdom says that he should take the player with the higher ceiling. Murray is no chump shooting the ball (he hit 40.8 percent of his three-point tries as a freshman at Kentucky), and he is undoubtedly light years ahead of where Hield was at the same age. Will Thibodeau be willing to take a flier on a less proven prospect for the sake of value? His answer to that question will provide insight towards his long term decision-making if Murray slides past the first four teams on draft night.

Kris Dunn

Minnesota is not in need of a point guard, yet rumors abound that the Wolves have been giving Dunn serious consideration thanks to something that Hield and Murray don’t offer: defensive prowess.

The assumption is that if the Wolves are confident in Dunn’s ability to contribute immediately, they will take the point guard from Providence and trade away Ricky Rubio.

This scenario rides on a lot: Thibodeau would first need to be willing to put his faith in Dunn, and then would need to procure a suitable offer for Rubio. Dunn’s four seasons of college ball make it less daunting to trust him immediately, and the opportunity to add a proven player through a trade could pay dividends.

Next: Should The Timberwolves Trade For Jimmy Butler?

It would be an aggressive approach for the head coach to take in his first off-season as an exec, but boldness may be the final ingredient in cooking up a winning organization in Minnesota.