Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Draft: Sam Mitchell makes case for James Wiseman

James Wiseman of the Memphis Tigers could be a Minnesota Timberwolves target in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
James Wiseman of the Memphis Tigers could be a Minnesota Timberwolves target in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

A former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach thinks that James Wiseman is a fit with the Wolves at No. 1 in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster of Minnesota Timberwolves rumors, and a fair number of them have included Memphis big man James Wiseman.

On it’s face, the idea that the Wolves would take a 7-footer who can’t stretch the floor and stick him next to Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t make any sense. But rumors have persisted.

From the rumor that Wiseman “doesn’t want anything to do with” the Wolves to the rumor that quickly followed suggesting that Wiseman would be Minnesota’s pick at No. 1, it’s been a busy couple of weeks.

And now, a former Minnesota Timberwolves player and coach has made his pitch for Wiseman as a fit alongside Towns.

Sam Mitchell says that James Wiseman would fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns

Sam Mitchell was the Timberwolves interim head coach during Karl-Anthony Towns’ rookie season following the tragic death of Flip Saunders. He is currently an NBA TV analyst and has always held an affinity for Towns, and by all accounts Towns enjoyed being coached by Mitchell as well.

But here’s Mitchell, making the case that Wiseman would fit in Minnesota.

Yes, comparing a potential Wiseman-Towns pairing to a pair of Hall-of-Famers sounds nice. But it’s also … aggressive.

Mitchell does acknowledge the obvious: the game in 2021 is much, much different than it was prior to the turn of the century. But that isn’t even the biggest issue with the Wolves drafting Wiseman.

The league isn’t going entirely towards small ball; that’s too simplistic of a way to describe the personnel movement across the league. Instead, it’s more about positional flexibility, and especially on the defensive end of the floor.

The issue is that Wiseman hasn’t shown the ability to move laterally with any level of fluidity, and plugging in a defensively stiff 7-footer next to Towns, who has had his own defensive issues, is a subpar fit. Yes, Wiseman can protect the rim, but he is likely to have significant struggles sticking with NBA wings in the pick-and-roll and some of the quicker 4s and 5s in the league.

Offensively, Wiseman and Towns would be fun together, but the fit is far from perfect. While he displays decent form and good touch, Wiseman may very well still develop into a solid shooter but he doesn’t posses range on his shot at this point in time.

Remember, the Wolves were hesitant to play Naz Reid next to Towns last year, and while he’s primarily a center, Reid only stands 6-foot-9 and can stretch the floor. Head coach Ryan Saunders simply doesn’t like having positionally inflexible defenders.

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All that to say … sorry, Sam. The Wolves are almost certainly not going to pick Wiseman first overall, and Duncan-Robinson Part II will have to wait for another day.