What players should be available for the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 17?
With the finalization of the NBA playoff seeding over the weekend, it is now official that the Minnesota Timberwolves will receive the No. 17 pick in October’s draft.
It was just over a week ago that the Brooklyn Nets clinched a playoff spot, thereby guaranteeing that the Wolves would receive their first-round pick. At that time, we only knew that the pick could fall between No. 14 and No. 17, with the two middle-cases appearing to be the most likely scenarios.
Alas, the Nets finished 3-1 and locked up the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. That means that the pick conveying to the Wolves will be No. 17.
Minnesota Timberwolves: What mock drafts say about Wolves’ No. 17 pick
This Thursday, we’ll find out where Minnesota’s first pick will end up after the lottery is completed. For now, however, we have the chance to take a quick look at what various mock drafts are saying about the No. 17 pick.
We’ve done a couple of mock draft check-ins here at Dunking With Wolves throughout the summer. They both focused on the Wolves’ first pick, although some of those same mocks also took stabs at the rest of the first round.
Let’s look at what everyone is saying about the picks in the mid-teens.
Sam Vecenie at The Athletic (subscription required) published his last mock about a month ago. He had picked Anthony Edwards for the Wolves at No. 1, but also picked for Minnesota at No. 16.
There, he selected Florida State forward Patrick Williams as a project wing with the upside to become a starting-caliber player as a pro. He would likely step into something of a Jake Layman-type role immediately, playing mostly the 4 with the ability to play some 3, although the offensive game is raw.
At No. 17, where we now know that the Wolves will actually be picking, Vecenie picked Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey for the Boston Celtics, who own Memphis’ pick. Following the finish to the season, that pick will actually be all the way up at No. 14.
Theo Salaun of Bleacher Report posted a new mock draft following the confirmation of the playoff field. That means it reflects the Wolves picking at No. 17.
At No. 3, the Wolves took LaMelo Ball in this mock. Recently, yours truly wrote why Ball isn’t a great fit for Minnesota, and with the likes of Killian Hayes, Obi Toppin, and Tyrese Haliburton on the board in this scenario, Ball is not the ideal pick.
At No. 17, Salaun has Minnesota selecting Maryland big Jalen Smith. We haven’t spent a ton of time talking about Smith at DWW, as he’s usually been mocked down into the 20’s.
Smith’s game is almost reminiscent of a more raw version of Obi Toppin. He’s an offensive-minded big with solid shooting touch. He’s big with a solid wingspan and plays hard, plus is only 20 years old. But the defensive issues are real when it comes to his lateral quickness and some of the more technical aspects of individual defense.
The most recent CBS Sports mock draft has the Wolves picking Haliburton at No. 3.
They still have the Wolves picking at No. 16, and has Minnesota picking Memphis freshman Precious Achiuwa. He’s a 6-foot-9 big man with plus athleticism and projectable touch from deep, although his actual shooting percentage in college wasn’t too awe-inspiring.
Despite being just 20 years old, Achiuwa should be able to step in and be a solid defender and rebounder immediately, making him a strong fit off the bench for the Wolves.
We now know the Wolves are picking at No. 17, No. 33, and … somewhere in the top seven. As soon as we know exactly what that top lottery pick will be, projecting out the best-case for the Wolves in the draft will be much easier.
Come Thursday night, we’ll be able to be much more precise, and these mock draft should come with a lot less variance.