After entering the 2023 NBA Draft with just one selection, the Minnesota Timberwolves stayed busy and found a way to trade up. As expected, Timberwolves President Tim Connelly was unafraid to make moves and Minnesota ended up bringing in two new players.
Making a trade with the San Antonio Spurs for the 33rd pick and giving up two future second-rounders, the Wolves selected Leonard Miller from the G League Ignite in what could turn out to be one of the bigger steals of this draft. Timberwolves fans should feel good about what the team was able to accomplish during the draft.
But the best part of Minnesota’s draft night trade was that it made the team’s trade deadline deal in February look even better. The Timberwolves’ three-way trade with the Lakers and Jazz was a solid deal at the time, but is aging exceedingly well.
The Timberwolves’ trade of D’Angelo Russell is looking better than ever.
Back on February 9, Minnesota sent D’Angelo Russell to Los Angeles and got back a haul of Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and three second-round draft picks. The picks they received were a 2024 second from the Lakers, a 2025 second from the Jazz, and a 2026 second from the Jazz.
We have seen in the short-term why it was a good decision to offload D’Angelo Russell. As a ball-dominant point guard, he was not the best fit next to a high-usage guard that needed more shots like Anthony Edwards. On top of that, D’Lo ended up being unplayable for the Lakers down the stretch of several playoff games.
In addition, Mike Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker have already outperformed expectations as Timberwolves. Stepping into a larger role to end the season and even earning a start, NAW showed that he can be a legitimately important player in the rotation next season.
Minnesota is maximizing the picks acquired in the D’Lo trade.
But the real kicker is the picks that were included in the trade. In trading their 2026 second-rounder from Utah to trade up for Leonard Miller, Minnesota has now added another valuable player that they essentially got in exchange for D’Angelo Russell.
The Wolves have now flipped Russell for Conley, Alexander-Walker, Miller, plus whatever other players they are able to acquire with their remaining two second-round picks from the trade. After receiving a lot of criticism for how he handled the Rudy Gobert trade, Tim Connelly has bounced back quite nicely with the moves he has made since then.
The return the Timberwolves got for D’Angelo Russell will only continue to grow. It is becoming clearer by the day that they made the right decision in choosing not to re-sign him.