Minnesota Timberwolves Draft Profiles: Xavier Tillman

Xavier Tillman Sr. of the Michigan State Spartans. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
Xavier Tillman Sr. of the Michigan State Spartans. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves need to look to add depth at either big spot, and bringing in a defensive-minded center that can occasionally shot and play-make could be a solid choice in the second round.

Xavier Tillman is an intriguing junior big man out of Michigan State that brings high IQ defensively as well as a workable shot and great playmaking for a center. He is a high-level rim protector despite being somewhat undersized and can raise the overall floor of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ defense.

Tillman, despite being older, does have a decent ceiling. If he can continue to work on his shot (improving from zero attempts per game to 26% on almost two attempts per game throughout his MSU career) and become a low-30% shooter at the NBA level, it will dramatically unlock his overall offensive game.

In terms of what he can do offensively already, Tillman displays high-level finishing with either hand and the ability to pass to almost anywhere on the floor. He already has enough to get on the floor at the NBA level, it is just a matter of expanding and optimizing his offensive game. Defensively, Tillman is a good post defender with enough length to disrupt passing lanes and be effective on closeouts. As stated, he is a good rim protector that is an effective team defender.

Fit with the Timberwolves

Xavier Tillman would be an excellent fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns. His combination of rim protection, switchability on defense, along with passing and overall shot potential make him one of the better players to pit next to Towns long-term. His floor is high enough to be a solid NBA role player but his ceiling, should the shot come around, is also relatively high in comparison to other experienced college bigs.

Tillman gives D’Angelo Russell another pick-and-roll teammate that is effective finishing at the rim, setting screens, and is an unselfish scorer. Tillman is enough of a transition threat with his potential shooting ability and can do enough to create his own shot in the post.

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Xavier Tillman would be an excellent target for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round of the 2020 NBA draft. As stated, he has both a high floor and decent ceiling which could allow him to help both in the immediate future and in the long-term goals of the Timberwolves. Selecting him means taking a swing at a front-court mate with Karl-Anthony Towns, but taking Tillman may be worth the calculated risk.