As we draw closer to what should have been NBA Draft season, it’s time to start looking at the prospects the Minnesota Timberwolves will be deciding between at the top of the draft.
The 2020 NBA Draft is going to be unusual for multiple reasons. We still don’t quite know when it will be, what the pre-draft process will look like and, when the draft does happen, when these rookies will get on the court.
This draft is also projected to be one of the weakest in recent memory, and will be increasingly difficult scouts from the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with every other team, to figure out with their limited resources due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Wolves will have their own pick somewhere near the top of the draft, and the Brooklyn Nets’ pick, which currently sits at No. 16.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen with the rest of the 2019-20 NBA season, but for the purpose of this article, let’s say the Wolves maintain the third-best odds of winning the lottery. That would give the team a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 pick and a 67 percent chance of landing in the top five.
A lot will happen between now and the draft, but for an early look at what to expect, here’s how the consensus top five draft prospects would fit with the Wolves:
Anthony Edwards, SG, 6-foot-4 (Fr.) – Georgia
NBA Comparison: Victor Oladipo
If the Wolves land the first-overall pick, Anthony Edwards should be their top target.
Although he’s only 6-foot-4, Edwards has elite athletic ability and a fluid offensive game which should translate well to the NBA. His selection would likely push Malik Beasley out one way or another, but at the top of the draft, the Wolves should be looking for the best player available.
Edwards seems to be that, and would be a great fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. Edwards looks a lot like Victor Oladipo offensively, and has all the tools to match Oladipo defensively in time.
LaMelo Ball, PG, 6-foot-7 (Intl.) – Illawara Hawks, Australia
NBA Comparison: Lonzo Ball
It’s hard not to hold bias against LaMelo for all the noise surrounding him and his erratic play back in high school.
If you just watch the tape, though, you see a player whose whole demeanor has changed since starting to play with professionals in Australia. If he can shore up his defense and 3-point shooting the way his brother Lonzo has, LaMelo could be a franchise point guard in the league.
If Gersson Rosas ends up in a spot where Ball is clearly the best player available, I wouldn’t be surprised if Minnesota trades down to avoid the complications of playing Ball and D’Angelo Russell together.
Isaac Okoro, SF, 6-foot-6 (Fr.) – Auburn
NBA Comparison: OG Anunoby
Like so many wing prospects in recent drafts, Isaac Okoro’s success in the NBA will depend on his ability to improve as a 3-point shooter.
The freshman showed elite athleticism and defensive ability in one season at Auburn, but shot only 29 percent from three. Of the top five prospects, Okoro definitely seems to be the best fit for Minnesota’s lineup. With shooters D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley now in tow, the Wolves should be more than willing to add a player like Okoro who moves well on offense and could be a serious difference maker on defense.
James Wiseman, C, 7-foot-1 (Fr.) – Memphis
NBA Comparison: Myles Turner
Had James Wiseman come into the league five years sooner, his value as a player and asset likely would have been much higher.
But with the abundance of quality bigs in the NBA today, it’s hard for any center to separate himself unless he can dominate offensively (see: Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic) or defensively (see: Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert).
Because he only played three games at Memphis, there will continue to be lots of question marks surrounding Wiseman leading up to the draft. The Wolves theoretically could use his defense, but it’s hard to see him playing well with Karl-Anthony Towns.
Deni Avdija, F, 6foot-9 (Intl.) – Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel
NBA Comparison: Evan Fournier
Avdija is another international prospect with a lot of confidence and experience for a 19-year-old.
He’s struggled to shoot, and that doesn’t bode well for the Wolves. The Wolves are looking for shooting and defense, and although Avdija’s defense has supposedly improved from what it once was, it doesn’t look to be game-changing.
If Minnesota did end up drafting Avdija, he would likely play some at both forward spots as a change-of-pace option on offense.
Minnesota might be in a tough spot with this top pick. Where the Wolves are looking for 3-and-D wings, there don’t seem to be many available.
It may not be the most exciting pick in the top five, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rosas follow up his Jarrett Culver selection in 2019 with a similar pick in Isaac Okoro. Defensive stoppers are a valuable commodity, and Okoro would be a great fit with the current team.
If not Okoro or Anthony Edwards, the Wolves might just want to go with the best player available and see how he develops. Whether that’s Ball, Wiseman, or any of the other top prospects, it will be interesting to see what the Wolves do.