Minnesota Timberwolves: Finding the floor for trading the No. 1 pick

The Minnesota Timberwolves are going to try to trade the No. 1 pick in the draft. What is the floor for such a deal?

There’s little question that the Minnesota Timberwolves want to trade the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.

The reasons are obvious, and we’ve discussed them plenty. But, in short, on the consensus top-three prospects, here it is in bullet-point format:

  • James Wiseman simply doesn’t fit with Karl-Anthony Towns.
  • LaMelo Ball is largely redundant with D’Angelo Russell, and a defensive backcourt of Ball and Russell is largely untenable.
  • Anthony Edwards is an overrated prospect with an ideal physical profile but defensive issues and an inefficient offensive game.

Therefore, a trade is the best-case scenario for the Wolves. If the Wolves are hell-bent on making a deal, however, what is the absolute floor of any deal?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Finding the floor for trading the No. 1 pick

We’re officially in the middle of Fake Trade Season, and several writers over at Bleacher Report have given us plenty to talk about.

In a recent article entitled “1 Offseason Trade For Every NBA Team,” Greg Swartz listed four trades that involve the Wolves. At least two of them would not be beneficial to the Wolves and aren’t worth much additional discussion, but there is one intriguing deal that could pique the interest of the Minnesota Timberwolves front office.

Timberwolves Get
No. 6 Overall Pick
De'Andre Hunter
Hawks Get
No. 1 Overall Pick

This trade is officially the Atlanta Hawks entry in this article, but the Wolves would likely come away winners in this deal.

Like the many trades that have been thrown out into the blogosphere featuring the Hawks getting to No. 1, it’s all about the assumption that Atlanta is desperate to draft native son and former University of Georgia star Anthony Edwards. Theoretically, he’s also a positional fit for the Hawks, who already have All-Star Trae Young and a pair of borderline star big men in John Collins and Clint Capela.

Their stable of young wings has yielded decidedly up and down results thus far, including Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, DeAndre’ Bembry, and De’Andre Hunter. The Hawks don’t need them all, and they need to add some star power to the wing position.

This whole trade hinges on the Hawks’ supposed desire to acquire Edwards by any means necessary. It’s not clear to me that it’s what they want to do, necessarily, but if they do, this trade could be on the table for the Wolves.

For President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas, this deal could be tempting if nothing involving a bonafide star materializes.

Minnesota would get back the No. 4 overall pick in last year’s draft in Hunter, who left the University of Virginia last year as a key member of the reigning NCAA champion. As a prospect, he was seen as having a floor of a rotational “3-and-D” player with the upside of an above-average starter.

Trending: "Most" insiders believe Wolves will take Edwards

His rookie year was uneven, but his size (6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan) and 3-point shooting capability (43.8 percent in his last year of college and 35.5 percent on 4.8 attempts per game for the Hawks) are enough for the Wolves to target him as a buy-low candidate.

Hunter wasn’t great defensively as a rookie, but he also spent a lot of time playing between Young and Huerter, who are both terrible defenders. In college, Hunter’s calling card was his defensive acumen and ability to lock down opponents; he was a huge part of holding Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver to 5-for-22 shooting in the NCAA Championship game in 2018.

It’s fair to assume that improvement is in the cards for Hunter. He isn’t a fantastic athlete, but that’s really the only red flag when it comes to his future as a pro. It’s quite likely that Hunter could be plugged into the Wolves starting lineup immediately.

As for the No. 6 pick, Minnesota would be virtually guaranteed to have at least three of four prospects on the board from the wing group of Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro, Killian Hayes, or Tyrese Haliburton. At least two of the three from the group of Deni Avidja, Obi Toppin, and defensive-minded big man Onyeka Okongwu will likely be on the board as well if the Wolves choose to go that direction.

Now, let’s be clear: a trade back of five spots and acquiring another young wing who has yet to hit anything close to his ceiling isn’t likely to be the most attractive trade out there. But if the market tanks — not out of the question, especially with Golden State likely to attempt to trade the No. 2 pick — this type of trade could become attractive.

Think of it as the Wolves, who don’t currently hold a first-round pick in 2021, acquiring two high lottery picks for the price of one. Hunter was picked No. 4 just last year, so the Wolves would have the No. 4 and No. 6 picks in the 2019 draft and the No. 6 pick in the 2020 draft all on their roster.

Next: Russell sounds lukewarm about possible Ball pairing

Clearly, Rosas and Co. would prefer to pick up a proven, star-caliber NBA player in any deal involving the No. 1 selection. But if that doesn’t come to fruition, grabbing Hunter and the No. 6 in would be far from the worst possible scenario.