With the 2019-20 NBA season postponed, let’s look ahead at the point guard spot for the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves in 2020-21.
The Minnesota Timberwolves finally have their point guard of the future. But that doesn’t mean they’ll avoid taking whomever they deem as the best player available in this year’s draft.
Let’s dive into the 2020 draft and take a look at how the Wolves could use their two first-round picks to shore-up the point guard spot, as well as the possibility of retaining Russell’s current backup.
Despite two double-digit-game losing streaks during the regular season, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended the postponed season on something of a high note. It was a new beginning in a sense, out with the old and in with the new.
The headliner of the trade deadline blockbuster deals executed by our lord and savior Gersson Rosas ended by pairing Karl-Anthony Towns with his long-time friend and point guard D’Angelo Russell. But the duo can’t do it alone, and the Wolves are still in talent acquisition mode.
The 2020 draft has talent when it comes to the point guard position, but who might be the Wolves’ preferred target with their two first-round picks?
LaMelo Ball, PG, 6-foot-7, Illawarra Hawks
You mean to tell me that we could have LaVar Ball sitting courtside at Target Center come next season? Count me in.
LaMelo Ball is an athletic playmaker with tremendous upside. Ball opted to go overseas and play professionally in Australia where he posted a line of 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep.
The 3-point shooting isn’t ideal, as the Timberwolves averaged 39.7 3-point attempts per game this season, ranking third in the NBA. That said, what Lamelo lacks in long-range shooting percentage he makes up for in playmaking and confidence. The 19-year-old is a fluid playmaker who’s defense and 3-point shooting ability will only continue to grow under Ryan Saunders.
Cole Anthony, PG, 6-foot-3, University of North Carolina
NBA Comparison: Fred VanVleet
While the Timberwolves aren’t likely to take Anthony with their first pick, he could be in play at the Brooklyn pick (currently sitting No. 16) for solid value.
The guard out of North Carolina had high praises of being a top-five pick coming into his freshman season, but he missed 11 games due to a knee injury, dropping his draft stock drastically. He posted 18.5, 5.7, 4.0, 1.3 splits in his limited time playing while shooting 38% from the field and 34.8 from deep.
Minnesota needs depth and Cole Anthony can provide just that. I wouldn’t see him in a starting role, but I do see him leading the second unit off the bench. Cole Anthony would inevitably mean the Wolves deciding not to re-sign Jordan McLaughlin. Again, with the Wolves high volume 3-point shooting, Cole Anthony would be a great addition to the second unit.
Re-sign Jordan McLaughlin
Instead of using a first-round pick on another point guard, the Wolves could simply opt to do what they can to retain impressive two-way player Jordan McLaughlin.
During the 2019 edition of Las Vegas Summer League, the Minnesota Timberwolves had three players that stood out above the rest: Naz Reid, Kelan Martin, and McLaughlin. However, Reid is the only one still under contract entering the offseason.
McLaughlin spent most of his 2019-20 season playing for the Iowa Wolves. Jeff Teague, Shabazz Napier, and Andrew Wiggins were the primary ball handlers during the first half of the season, but once they were all traded it was McLaughlin’s time to shine.
The per-36-minute averages of 16.4 points, 8.5 assists, and 2.2 steals are good numbers from a point guard leading a second unit. McLaughlin knows the system and if the Timberwolves feel as though they can sign him affordably, Rosas could consider trading one of their first-round picks.
Draft Corner: PG Edition
The Timberwolves will have a top pick in the 2020 draft that even has a 14 percent chance to land as high as No. 1.
Taking LaMelo Ball early in the draft is a real possibility, depending on how the Wolves evaluate his ability to play behind or even alongside Russell, as well as the team’s prospects of retaining McLaughlin on a reasonable contract.
If the Wolves don’t take Ball early and don’t trade the Nets pick, taking Cole Anthony in the middle of the first round could have great value.