Bleacher Report wrapped up its fake offseason with viceroy GMs for every team in the NBA last weekend. With the draft in the books, let's evaluate the Minnesota Timberwolves' offseason.
Last week, our friends over at Bleacher Report kicked off a fun NBA Fantasy League idea, in which each team in the NBA was given a fake GM from their fanbase.
The league ended up including a whopping 40 trades to go along with a full, two-round mock draft with each pick graded by B/R's Jonathan Wasserman.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' GM was none other than my man Barflaan Tedoe, a member of B/R's social media team, fellow lifelong Wolves sufferer, and one of the funniest follows on NBA Twitter. If you like A+ references and you like to laugh, he's a must-follow.
The offseason began essentially as if the season ended last week, so there was no playoffs, no champion, and the draft order was set based on every team's current record, factoring in tiebreakers.
Here was the official draft order, which was influenced by a slew of pre-draft trades. For the sake of keeping this clean, I only referenced picks that were originally owned by the Wolves.
- Minnesota (via New York)
- Golden State
- Chicago (via New York from Minnesota)
- Oklahoma City
- San Antonio
- New Orleans
- New Orleans
- LA Lakers (via Minnesota)
- New York
- San Antonio
- Oklahoma City
- New York
Barflaan was wheeling and dealing before and during the draft, and ended up with the No. 33, No. 38, and No. 39 picks.
So, all in all, Tedoe ended up making picks for the Wolves at the following selections:
- Round 1, Pick 2
- Round 2, Pick 4 (33 overall)
- Round 2, Pick 9 (38 overall)
- Round 2, Pick 10 (39 overall)
Before we dive into Barflaan's draft performance, let's take a look at what trades he made as acting GM of the Timberwolves.
Trade No. 1 - Jarrett Culver packs his bags, heads to New York City
The Knicks have had a rough time making trades over the last five years and, thankfully for Wolves fans, did nothing to change that in their dealings with Minnesota here.
What a heist for Tedoe and the Wolves.
Here, Minnesota gets the No. 2 pick, which solidifies an opportunity to draft a franchise cornerstone player that can make an immediate impact on the floor at Target Center alongside All-Star talents Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell.
With Anthony Edwards gone as the presumed No. 1 pick, Barflaan gave himself the opportunity to draft one of three excellent fits that he should consider with the second pick.
The first of these three is Onyeka Okongwu, who had a highly impactful freshman campaign at USC. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game while registering a 64.5 percent true shooting percentage, a mind-bogglingly high defensive box plus-minus of 8.0, and a Net Rating of 29.5. The final three metrics all topped a competitive Pac-12 this year.
Okongwu was a force to be reckoned with in the paint for Andy Enfield's Trojans squad.
He ranked in the 94th percentile on points per possession (PPP) when he posted up, the 90th percentile on offensive rebounding and putbacks (he is an excellent second leaper), and the 78th percentile as the roll man in the pick-and-roll. While he can't shoot threes, bringing in a guy with Okongwu's defensive dominance and offensive energy would be an excellent complement to Towns, and a major shot in the arm for the Timberwolves.
LaMelo Ball is another prospect that should warrant strong consideration from Tedoe in the draft. He has incredible primary playmaking skills as a combo guard, a really fun bag of tricks with the ball in his hands, excellent range on the 3-ball, and an NBA-ready body that will allow him to battle from day one in the NBA.
While his time down under in the NBL didn't exactly blow anyone away, he flashed all the skills that have made him a coveted prospect throughout the pre-draft process.
The third prospect is French point guard Killian Hayes. The 6-foot-5 phenom ran the show for Ratiopharm Ulm in the Eurocup, averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game on 45.5/39.0/90.9 shooting splits. Hayes is a lefty who possesses incredible passing accuracy, touch, and flair in the half-court, but especially in pick and roll with pocket passes, over the top lobs to slipping bigs, and cross-court lasers to the corners for open threes.
With a quickly-evolving arsenal of dribble combos and shots off the bounce, plus an excellent spot-up jumper, he could very easily run a second unit on offense, or play alongside incumbent backup point guard Jordan McLaughlin.
Additionally, they secure a solid second-round pick at #38, which allows them to get a player they can send to Iowa and develop under the tutelage of the Iowa Wolves development staff. In a draft full of potential role players that draft experts are all over the place on, Tedoe could end up drafting a player who turns into a steal three or four years down the line.
The final inbound asset Wolves take on is a flip-able contract in Julius Randle as the cost of doing business for getting off Culver and acquiring the #2 pick. While Randle is intriguing as a rebounder, screen-setter, and cutter, he does not play well on the perimeter, is very inefficient for a post-centric 4, and does not bring much value to a team who needs an athletic 4 that can space the floor and defend multiple positions.
The only real plus out of this deal for the Knicks is Jarrett Culver, but only if he fixes a very, very questionable jump shot. If it never materializes, this trade quickly becomes a disaster for them. However, moving off Julius Randle's contract in exchange for an expiring James Johnson (who will be a free agent in 2021) could soften the blow of the trade blowing up in the organization's face.
Trade No. 2 - Julius Randle goes home to Texas
As alluded to earlier, Randle simply does not fit in any way on the Timberwolves' roster. Barflaan recognized this and decides to do business with a historically inactive team on the trade front.
In a simple yet rare one-for-one flip, Tedoe acquires a veteran presence in Rudy Gay, whose slightly cheaper, expiring contract creates about $3.5 million in cap space for the cap-strapped Wolves. Outside of potentially gearing up to unload LaMarcus Aldridge, this trade is puzzling from a San Antonio perspective.
In addition to Aldridge, the Spurs already have true 4-man in Trey Lyles and developmental power forward prospects Luka Samanic and Chimezie Metu. Neither are on two-way contracts, so the Spurs should be looking to play them in order to speed up their development and tank for a better pick in the already-loaded 2021 draft.
In return, the Wolves get an established veteran that can contribute to almost any offense in today's NBA. Gay, career 34.5 percent 3-point shooter who can also contribute as a sneaky good secondary pick-and-roll initiator and smart cutter, has no problem playing a role and coming off the bench.
He is a solid, albeit overpriced, wing that also provides upside as an excellent pick-and-roll defender and is capable of holding his own in the defensive low post.
In the end, there are no complaints here regarding getting off Randle for an expiring vet that can contribute right away in a small, concentrated role.
Trade No. 3 - You can never have too much shooting
Imagine a world where the Wolves have five shooters capable of shooting 40 percent-plus in a season, before drafting anyone. It's a far cry from the Timberwolves team that went 6-for-45 from deep in a loss to Denver back in November.
But yet, Fantasy GM Barflaan Tedoe turns dreams to reality here with the third of his three trades at the helm of the Wolves' front office.
Out of the whole entire B/R Fantasy League trade bonanza, I thought this was one of the most fair, understandable deals of the entire simulation.
In RJ Hampton, the Lakers get arguably the second-most-athletic point guard in the class, and an immediate upgrade over Rajon Rondo at the backup lead ball-handler spot.
Hampton is a very effective PnR initiator who has excellent burst and a quick first step that enables him to get past defenders and get downhill for finishes and crafty passes around the rim. He has good vision and would help create open shots for teammates without LeBron on the floor, which the Lakers have struggled to do all season. He shot just 29.4 percent from deep, but can fine-tune his jumper with time spent in the gym.
Gay gives them another solid rotational piece that could fill the void left by pending free agent Markieff Morris. Despite a lofty price tag, he's needed to match the $15M salary that Danny Green commands.
Is Danny Green worth giving up the Brooklyn first-round pick? Absolutely. Green is a definite upgrade from Gay in terms of the impact he could have on the Wolves offensively, and the 23-pick swing from 16 to 39 is a very fair way to bridge the value divide. The Green Ranger is also an expiring contract, which could come in handy if the team tries to trade for Devin Booker next season, or simply wants to renegotiate at a more team-friendly price in the summer of 2021.
Green has shot 36 percent or better on 4.5 or more 3s in seven of the last eight straight seasons and has finished with a 3-point percentage north of 40 in five of those seasons. While he does not offer much outside of his sharpshooting, he never has been asked to do so and is a star in his role. For a team trying to right the ship and get back in the playoffs, Green is exactly the type of veteran piece to plug-in for immediate results.
His defense has dipped in the last two seasons, but he is still a very smart, communicative defender who was a mainstay in the starting five for Gregg Popovich's Spurs from 2011 to 2018, before being shipped to Toronto with Kawhi Leonard. In order to play for Pop, you have to D-up, and Green can still do that a stop is needed. He also comes with a wealth of on-court playoff experience, which this current roster sorrily lacks.
Tedoe also acquired a second-round pick at No. 39, which will allow for the Wolves to take a couple of home-run swings on boom-or-bust prospects in the second round with back-to-back picks in No. 38 and No. 39.
Now, let's see how Barflaan faired in the scouting department, trying his hand at the NBA Draft.
Round 1, Pick 2 - The star-powered backcourt is complete
The star-hungry GM made his intentions known from the jump.
It's safe to say that with his job performance thus far, Barflaan has my endorsement.
LaMelo Ball undeniably raises the ceiling for the Wolves in 2020 and beyond.
Ball unquestionably has the highest basketball IQ of any guard in the 2020 class and is arguably its top playmaker, too. Combine that with range that goes out to the parking lot, a consistent array of floaters, runners, and layup shots at his disposal, plus an unmatched frame, and you have an incredibly enticing guard prospect.
Ball and has great size at the 1, standing 6-foot-7 tall at 185 pounds, and has a projected wingspan that approaches seven feet. These factors should enable him to be a more than competent defender if he puts the effort in.
The Stepien's Spencer Pearlman shows an example of what LaMelo is capable of when he flips the switch on defense.
While his defense was largely terrible during his time in the NBL - he gave up 1.278 points per possession as the primary defender this season, good for the 7th percentile in the league, per Synergy - he has length and basketball IQ that simply cannot be developed and moldable ability on defense as a point-of-attack defender.
The other intriguing aspect of Ball's game is his prospects to play alongside D'Angelo Russell. While both have skills that would translate well to a part-time off-ball, such as movement shooting, understanding of floor spacing, and incredibly high basketball IQs, Russell is likely the player who would spend more time off-ball, since he has found success in Minnesota playing as the 2 in two-point-guard lineups with Jordan McLaughlin. (More about that here.)
Ball is creative in the pick and roll and has A+ vision, which would pair exceptionally well with the most dynamic offensive big man in the NBA in pick-and-roll actions while being flanked by two five-alarm fire shooters in Russell and Malik Beasley. LaMelo graded out most favorably by Synergy in possessions with pick-and-roll-centric actions, which generated 0.846 points per possession, good to earn him an "average" rating league-wide.
If he was relegated to the second unit, he would immediately elevate the play of every other player on the floor with his knack for getting teammates the ball in their spots. He still has a ways to go as a scorer at the NBA level, so he could not justifiably be the second unit's go-to bucket-getter, but still offers a ton of value as a pass-first point guard who can get into the lane and make life easier, offensively, for everyone he plays with.
Ball shot just 27.9 percent from deep as a member of the Illawarra Hawks, but has shown the ability to knock down tough, contested jumpers when he is in a rhythm. I expect him to be less liberal with his shot selection in the NBA and more of a playmaker at first, which should give credence to the notion that he can make a positive impact from the first moment he checks into an NBA game.
The former Chino Hills High School superstar is widely considered a top-three pick in this year's draft, and considering the Wolves need for additional shooting, primary and secondary playmaking, and high-potential additions, Ball fits like a glove. His defense and motor are still concerns for me, and I personally prefer adding a guy like Okongwu into the mix (even though Rosas would never do that), but snagging Ball at No. 2 is great value.
GM Tedoe's trio of second-round selections are smart, high-upside bets
With his first selection in the second round, at pick No. 33, Barflaan opted to take a swing on an athletic 4 with long-term 3-and-D potential.
Robert Woodard II
Woodard has an NBA-ready body at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, but also has the athleticism to go along with it that will help him matchup on the outside against stretch 4s in today's NBA. Considering he's a tweener, he'll need to have a consistent jumper at the next level to find success.
Thankfully, he shot 42.9 percent from downtown on 2.3 attempts per game, which was an improvement on the 27.3 percent mark he registered on 1.3 attempts per night in his freshman campaign.
Offensively, Woodard is an excellent cutter who does not mind taking smaller defenders down to the low block and playing bully ball for easy buckets. Per Synergy, the Bulldog big averaged 1.41 PPP as a cutter, good for 86th percentile among all NCAA D-I players. Down on the block, he averaged 1.05 PPP, which placed him in the 89th percentile.
Robert would provide the most value as a versatile defender who would pair nicely at the 4 with Karl-Anthony Towns or Naz Reid patrolling the paint. He ranked in the 95th percentile or better among college defenders in defending players coming off screens, hand-off actions, roll men in the pick-and-roll, and isolations, although all came with relatively small sample sizes.
The flashes are there, as is the defensive IQ, which gives the Wolves front office an exciting foundation to help build his defensive game on.
Woodard should be a late first-rounder, so this is good value in my eyes at 33.
With back-to-back selections at No. 38 and No. 39, Tedoe took a couple of swings on prospects with lower floors than most, but higher ceilings than most, too.
If you want a high-flyer, Cassius Stanley Is your man.
Yours truly was in the building for this one against Boston College, and phew, Stanley's hang time is something else.
Not convinced? Here's another wild one-hander to show you it wasn't a fluke.
He's the most athletic player in the draft outside of Alabama point guard Kira Lewis Jr. and even broke Zion Williamson's Duke program record with a vertical leap of 46.5 inches, besting Zion's 45-inch vert. Anything above a 40-inch vert is very impressive, so a 46.5-inch leap is downright absurd. If he gets drafted, he would have the highest official vertical leap in the entire NBA (Zach LaVine is currently the leader at 46 inches).
Stanley offers upside as a good-sized off-ball guard who can put the ball on the deck, get to the cup, and finish in a multitude of creative, athletic ways. His creativity around the rim and awareness navigating bigs patrolling the lane are advanced for a freshman in college. He also is quick laterally and is capable of getting in the passing lanes for steals leading to epic throw-downs on the fastbreak.
The former Sierra Canyon standout also shot 36 percent from deep on 4.3 attempts per game. He has good form that should translate well to the next level thanks to a relatively effortless stroke.
Stanley's Synergy profile is very encouraging as well.
Note: asterisks denote small sample size
- Overall: 1.00 PPP - 85th percentile
- Transition: 1.29 PPP - 88th percentile
- Spot up: 0.99 PPP - 72nd percentile
- Isolation: 0.763 PPP - 50th percentile
- *Cut: 1.36 PPP - 83rd percentile
- *Off screen: 1.33 PPP - 94th percentile
- Overall: 0.69 PPP as the primary defender - 85th percentile
- Spot up: 0.79 PPP - 67th percentile
- B&R Ball-Handler: 0.47 PPP - 92nd percentile
- *Isolation: 0.70 PPP - 59th percentile
Where Stanley struggles is when he gets stopped on his drives to the rim. The Duke freshman is not an adept playmaker and has to improve his vision at the next level if he wants to keep his turnover numbers down.
But, if someone as quick and powerful off the dribble as Stanley is can develop his passing ability, he will be a very tough cover as he matures and gets adjusted to the speed of the game.
He'll almost certainly be around at No. 38 in the draft, but could very well be around near the back end of the second round as well.
I personally think that Stanley will be one of the best 20-25 prospects from this draft five years down the line, so I am a huge fan of this pick. It is not great value based on how real NBA GMs are likely to think, but I have no issue with Barf taking a swing here.
With his final selection, Tedoe opted to bolster defense on the wing with a dependable collegiate veteran.
From the Wolves' perspective, it is hard to go argue with selecting a fringe first-rounder that also won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Bey, a three-year starter for Tad Boyle and the Buffaloes, was one of 10 players in Division I to register a defensive box plus-minus of at least 7.0 and a box plus-minus of at least 10.0. Among those 10, he had the third-lowest defensive rating (85.5). In summary, the dude has clamps.
He's 6-foot-7, 215 pounds and has a 7-foot-1 wingspan, which will allow him to play a rangy, free safety-type role at the next level, similar to what former Washington standout Matisse Thybulle did in Philly this season, and utilize his excellent off-ball defense.
The Sin City native is also more than capable of staying in front of twitchy wings on the perimeter and will almost certainly be able to cause problems on the defensive end right away as a rookie.
His offensive game leaves a lot to be desired, however. Although he shot 42 percent from 3 this season, he took just 31 all season, and is a career 30.5 percent 3-point shooter. What is encouraging, though is that he shot 74.7 percent from the charity stripe during his three years in Boulder. Plus, his form improved as a junior, so one would hope he can continue that upward trend into the NBA.
He is a pretty decent finisher around the rim but is not one I would count on to consistently finish at a high level around NBA bigs. Bey did draw fouls at a very nice rate of .586, meaning that for every one field goal attempt, he averaged .586 free throw attempts. For reference, anything above a .40 is a great place to be. Tyler shot 7.6 free throws a game, which is an awesome clip. He often flashed in the paint in soft spots in the zone or sealed bottom-line defenders in zones, which allowed him to frequently draw fouls.
Bey's primary fit in Minnesota would be on defense alongside defensive energizer Josh Okogie to make up for the defensive shortcomings of D'Angelo Russell and Juancho Hernangomez. If he can knock down the occasional wide-open 3 at a 35 percent clip in addition to providing great defense. he could make a bigger impact for Minnesota earlier than most would think.
Bey's stock is unquestionably lowered by his advanced age (he turned 22 in February) for a junior, but I would be surprised if the long, disruptive wing is around at 33, let alone 39. This is one of the better value picks in the entire draft.
Final Roster Review and Overall Grade
Overall, I think Barflaan did an awesome job with this simulation as GM of the Timberwolves.
He made a big trade to move up and get a prospect he clearly feels is the best in the entire draft in Ball, while shipping out the team's biggest question mark in Jarrett Culver.
After drafting Ball and Stanley, that first trade with the Knicks was a blowout dub for Tedoe and the Wolves. I'm talking first-game of the New Wolves Order, good old fashioned, disrespectful, leave-no-doubt blowout.
After the addition of Bey and Danny Green in the trade with the Lakers, Barflaan was left with an enormous roster that is overviewed here:
This roster (outside of being too large to be a real NBA roster) is one with a ton of fun players across the board.
The team is set with the backcourt of the future in Russell / McLaughlin / Ball / Beasley / Okogie and has a bevy of playable, talented wings in Green / Layman / Bey / Martin and great young talent waiting in the wings in Stanley / Nowell / Vanderbilt.
I love where this team ended up and think it might win 45 games based purely on the fact it might average close to 120 points per game. Defense is another story, but the Timberwolves will not be in a position where they can sizable immediate upgrades on that end of the floor this fall.
OVERALL GRADE: A-
Until the Timberwolves come calling, we'll always support our legendary, one-week GM, and his offensive juggernaut.