With the 53rd overall pick, the Minnesota Timberwolves select: Jayeln Clark (G, UCLA)
At our original draft position, there was a 22-year-old guard out of UCLA still available, who was projected to go a little bit earlier, but in that same range and so, Connelly chose his guy.
Guard Jaylen Clark averaged 13 points and six rebounds in his junior season for UCLA, while also coming away with the Naismith Defensive Player of The Year Award, joining the likes of Walker Kessler (Utah Jazz) and Davion Mitchell (Sacramento Kings).
One thing that stands out is that this was his first season as a full-time starter for Mike Cronin, having only entered the starting lineup on six other occasions in 59 games. With the increase in opportunity, he flashed plenty of improvements to his game, having a better chance to showcase his defensive skills while also maintaining his efficiency in a way higher shot volume, with a predominance in finishing at the rim.
Defensive standout but long rehab
What’s so interesting about this pick? Jaylen Clark suffered a torn Achilles right before the end of the season and the March Madness tournament, which took a huge hit on his stock. That explains why he fell so far on draft night. So when will he be able to play?
Connelly stated that his recovery time is currently projected at around 9-12 months, which would mean that he could be ready at around December/January, right in time for him to ramp up his game conditioning with the Iowa Wolves and get ready for later opportunities, maybe even at the end of this season for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
However, this was indeed a risky pick, as uncertainty surrounds the kind of player he’ll be after his recovery. There were plenty of interesting prospects still available on the board, such as Jalen Slawson, who was also seen as one of the potential selections for the Timberwolves, as a 6-foot=7 forward. Slawson is one of the oldest guys in the draft at 23 years of age, who showcased his above-average scoring skills in his senior year at Furman.
Keeping this in mind, the fit of a very defensive-minded guard to the lineup is very appealing to Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, which is why this is a very solid pick. If it indeed pans out as expected, it will be a huge addition. Still, it could be in jeopardy due to the serious injury that Clark suffered earlier this year.