Minnesota Timberwolves: The General Manager Game

Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – November 30 – LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – November 30 – LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /


To maintain stability (and clarity), we are not going to run a lottery simulation, and rather, the Timberwolves will keep the third overall pick (along with Brooklyn’s 16th overall selection and the 33rd overall pick). The two teams in front of Minnesota in the draft order are Cleveland and Golden State.

Let’s say the Golden State Warriors select James Wiseman with the first overall pick (as he is the player rumored to be atop their draft board) and Cleveland takes Anthony Edwards (a consensus top-3 player in this draft. That gives the Minnesota Timberwolves many different options with the third overall pick, most notably Onyeka Okongwu, Deni Avdija, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, and Obi Toppin.

LaMelo Ball is the best overall player left on the board. His combination of size, playmaking, and shooting upside make him a high-floor, high-ceiling player, and that is exactly what you want with a top-3 selection in the draft.

Having Ball on the roster provides another source of playmaking outside of D’Angelo Russell, who can take on more of a scoring responsibility by having another excellent perimeter threat. The defensive fit between the two is questionable, but Ball has shown flashes of being a plus defender. Being roughly 6-foot-8 at the point guard position, he certainly has the tools to become a good defender.

With their next pick, the Wolves should take a look at the board and see who falls through the cracks. After securing a backcourt-mate for Russell, Minnesota no longer has to worry about drafting a guard. They do, however, need either a stretch big or two-way forward/wing.

Of those projected in this range, Aaron Nesmith, Saddiq Bey, Josh Green, and Patrick Williams make the most sense. However, Saddiq Bey’s versatile defense and quality perimeter shot-making make him the best fit available for the Timberwolves.

Bey can guard positions 2-4 and shot 45-percent from the 3-point line this past season for Villanova. He can play immediately as a rotational wing/forward and pairs nicely with either Towns or Russell.

Saddiq Bey, despite being older for a sophomore college player, improved in many ways from his freshman ceiling, which means it is even more likely for him to continue to improve as a basketball player.

With their second-round pick, ideally, the Timberwolves will take the last of their three needs — a stretch big. After taking a pass-first guard and two-way wing, getting a power forward/center that can play good interior defense as well as shoot above 30-percent from three would be huge, especially with the way that the NBA is going.

The main players in the early second round that fit that particular mold are Xavier Tillman and Jalen Smith.

Smith, though, makes more sense due to his incredible range for a big man. He is also younger than Tillman, and a better interior defender as well.

Having Jalen Smith means having a big that can either take over for Towns temporarily while he’s on the bench or playing alongside him as a floor-spacer and rim protector. Smith shot over 35-percent from three-point range his final year at Maryland, 10-percent higher than his mark the year before. Even if he only takes three 3P attempts per game, that would absolutely allow Towns to score inside at an even better clip.


3. LaMelo Ball, Guard, USA (~$7M annually)

16. Saddiq Bey, Wing/Forward, Villanova (~$2.75M annually)

33. Jalen Smith, Big, Maryland (~$1.3M annually)

Collective rookie contract worth: $11.05 million

Team payroll: ~$107 million

Updated Roster:

PG: Ball

SG: Russell, Culver, Nowell*

SF: Okogie, Bey, Evans

PF: Johnson, Layman, Vanderbilt*

C: Towns, Smith, Reid*, Spellman

(14 players)

*Non-guaranteed contract