Minnesota Timberwolves Draft Corner: Small Forward Edition

AUBURN, AL - FEBRUARY 01: Isaac Okoro #23 of the Auburn Tigers. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
AUBURN, AL - FEBRUARY 01: Isaac Okoro #23 of the Auburn Tigers. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Welcome back to the Minnesota Timberwolves Draft Corner! It’s time to look at the small forward position for the 2020-2021 season.

With the NBA set to resume on July 31, there are eight teams that will not be participating, including the Minnesota Timberwolves. And that means it’s time to talk draft.

At the 2020 trade deadline, the Timberwolves parted ways with Andrew Wiggins. For the previous six years, Wiggins had primarily been the Wolves’ starting small forward. After the deadline, Josh Okogie stepped into that role. Josh’s high motor and defensive prowess is certainly an upside, but his primary position is shooting guard.

Juan Hernangomez and Jake Layman will both contribute at the forward position, but there is certainly growth to be had at small forward whether it be through trade or through the 2020 NBA Draft.

Isaac Okoro, Forward, 6-foot-6, Auburn Tigers

NBA Comparison: Jimmy Butler

Yes, Jimmy Butler Timberwolves fans. We’ve found you a comp. Auburn’s Isaac Okoro is an athletic forward whose frame gives him the ability to guard four positions.

He stands 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. During his freshman year, he posted a line of 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 0.9 steals per game. He shot 51.2 percent from the field while shooting 28.6 percent from deep. While his outside shooting isn’t ideal for the high-volume-shooting Timberwolves, he did shoot 60.3 percent from inside the arc.

Okoro’s ability to guard multiple positions ascended his draft stock value into a middle-of-the-pack lottery pick. The freshman out of Auburn has the ability to be a star in this league if he can develop a consistent 3-point shot.

Deni Avdija, Forward, 6-foot-8, Maccabi Tel Aviv

NBA comparison: Toni Kukoc

Deni Avdija is an interesting player. Many of the doubts surrounding him involve his unique overseas career.

After winning MVP in the U20 European Championship, when he posted a line of 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.1 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game. Then, he parlayed that performance into consistent minutes in the Euroleague.

Avdija has the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting, and he can also facilitate in the open court. That skill-set is valuable in the NBA, and depending on what he is able to do defensively, he has a shot to play both forward spots.

While Avdija’s limited time spent in the Euroleague may scare some teams away, he has good value as a mid-lottery pick. Okoro and Avdija are certainly the top small forwards in the draft and either would provide quality minutes for the Timberwolves

Aaron Nesmith, SF, 6-foot-6, Vanderbilt Commodores

NBA Comparison: Buddy Hield

Looking for the best 3-point shooter in the draft? You’ve come to the right place.

The Timberwolves are looking for a shooter to come off the bench and the sophomore from Vanderbilt is the guy. However, much like Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt in last year’s draft, Nesmith’s season was cut short.

During his sophomore season in which he played 14 games, he posted a line of 23 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. What is more impressive is that he shot 52.2 percent from three while averaging 8.2 attempts per contest. Nesmith is certainly a sharpshooter, but he is also an aggressive rebounder that has the ability to grow on defense with his 6-foot-8 wingspan.

Nesmith may move into a lottery spot, but if he falls to the Timberwolves at No. 16, he would be a great addition to a team that will be shooting plenty of 3-pointers in the upcoming season.

Draft Corner: SF Edition

Small forward is certainly a position of interest for the Timberwolves as they seek to grow around D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. With the departure of Andrew Wiggins last season, the position that had been on lockdown for the past six years is now open.

The names mentioned are only a few of the small forwards in the draft, but those three could have a big impact on this team’s growth.

Next. 5 draft prospects to upgrade the Wolves' shooting. dark

Unfortunately, the new-look Timberwolves won’t get to finish out the current season, but that could be a good thing. Time to reset, and look ahead at the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves. And that includes these small forward prospects.