With the NBA Draft now in the books, Let’s take a look at how the Minnesota Timberwolves scored.
Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly isn’t new to the scene. But he is known as one of the best executives in the NBA today, most notably when it comes to talent evaluation and selecting prospects in the annual NBA Draft
Connelly, the former Denver Nuggets president, was key to the Nuggets drafting two-time MVP Nikola Jokic with the 41st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. What are the odds he’ll be able to find another hidden gem in the 2022 NBA Draft for the Minnesota Timberwolves?
With the 19th overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, Connelly and his team failed to trade up into the NBA Lottery but capitalized on a pick swap with the Memphis Grizzlies, trading back three spots for the 22nd overall and picking an additional first-round pick at the 29th overall pick. Two first-round selections in the NBA Draft. A risk that paid off.
With the 22nd overall pick, the Timberwolves drafted Auburn center, Walker Kessler. The 20-year-old played one year at North Carolina and one at Auburn. The 7-foot-1 center dominated the defensive end at Auburn last season and earned the nod for the 2021-22 Naismith & NABC National Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The Timberwolves aimed to improve their defense in this year’s NBA Draft, and with this pick, they hit the nail on the head. Kessler led the NCAA in blocks setting a single-season record with 155 blocks and pulling in the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award.
The downside to Kessler’s game is he isn’t a traditional big man who can dominate the paint offensively. But his ability to shoot from beyond the arch separates him from the rest. No rookie is perfect, but if Kessler can improve his rim protection and versatility. The rookie could earn himself valuable minutes this season.
With the 29th overall pick and two second-round picks, the team acquired the Houston Rockets’ 26th overall pick in the NBA Draft. Now armed with their second first-round pick of the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Duke small forward Wendell Moore Jr. The Rockets subsequently drafted a point guard the Timberwolves were thought to have on their radar from Kentucky TyTy Washington Jr. The Houston Rockets took the title to the Timberwolves’ 2025 and 2027 second-round picks.
A win-win situation for both organizations? It seems so, as the Minnesota Timberwolves opted to invest in a rookie wing who has the potential to transform into a very good 3-and-D type of player. The 6-foot-5 forward is one player who could see significant minutes this season if the Wolves pull the trigger and trade veteran combination guard D’Angelo Russell. Moore was a defensive anchor at Duke who has a strong basketball IQ, can stretch the floor, and knock down shots.
Ending up with two solid picks in the bottom of the first round was worth the risk of passing on two players with a high upside. Adding on defense was the goal. Walker Kessler and Wendell Moore can contain the ball and win one-on-one matchups. Key; to winning games in this league.
You never know what hidden gems you can find in the 2ndround of the NBA Draft. The Timberwolves decided to take a chance on a former top-40 prospect power forward out of Memphis Josh Minott with the 45th overall pick of the draft.
Minott isn’t NBA-ready, But he is an athletic forward with a grinder mentality. There is plenty of room for improvement but a guy who averaged 26 points, 9 rebounds, 4.6 steals, and 2 assists over 34.4 minutes per game for Jamaica internationally deserves a shot in the league.
With the 50th overall pick, Minnesota drafted Italian guard Matteo Spagnolo of Vanoli Cremona.
Spagnolo averaged 12.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game playing overseas. The 19-year-old has the ability to shoot the ball but isn’t efficient, definitely a project in the making.
Non-guaranteed players could turn into All-Stars, You never know. That is what player development coaches are for. Expect Minott to be used as a two-way player in the G-League and NBA. President Tim Connelly has confirmed that Spagnolo is a likely draft-and-stash player who will be afforded a chance to develop further in the Euroleague.
If I had to give the Minnesota Timberwolves a draft grade this early, it would be a solid B. I love what Tim Connelly and his team did with the 19th pick, trading down, while still obtaining two players on their radar for the price of one.
Now with D’Angelo Russell trade rumors still looming over the franchise. Next on the list is to resolve issues in the backcourt. For now, Moore Jr and Spagnolo will fill the void.
What grade would you assign the Wolves’ draft? Join the conversation in the comments.