Let’s sum this all up
Nobody can tell how well teams drafted days after the draft concludes, and I am not here disguising attempts to do so with a disclaimer. But I am here to point out an often overlooked set of facts. The Utah Jazz, formerly a 49-33 team, have become much worse after trading Rudy Gobert. In fact, the Jazz team is so much now that the measurement of how well they did from that trade has artificially been reset to a non-playoff team. That’s not where they started.
The Timberwolves were a 46-36 team before that trade. While they only managed to scratch and claw their way to the 2023 NBA playoffs, keep in mind that his team had to learn how to play together as a team, overcome a wave of injuries that crippled the roster, and had to reset their starting five at the NBA Trade Deadline. And after all of that, this team won just four fewer games?
I’d call that rather impressive, if not an outright success.
Timberwolves are in the NBA Playoffs tier now
The Minnesota Timberwolves may be linked to the Utah Jazz, but let’s stop pretending that draft picks are valuable on their own. They are simply an NBA’s form of currency, a liquid asset that is readily converted into players. Did the Jazz get a player who will have an NBA career that will exceed that of Rudy Gobert over the span of his career? We already know that the Jazz thought so little of the other players not named Walker Kessler that they have already moved on from them.
If the Timberwolves truly surrendered NBA star players, the Utah Jazz by sheer numbers of five players to one should have had a better season than the Minnesota Timberwolves. Instead, it was the Timberwolves who, in my opinion, demonstrated more resiliency.
That has led to the 2023 NBA Draft. The Jazz team is searching for NBA stars to help lead this young team, while the Timberwolves team is merely looking for complementary and niche rotational players. Which team is more likely to reach their goals in the 2023 NBA Draft?
Let’s say it a different way. Consider the Rudy Gobert trade like a sale of real estate property. The Timberwolves emerged with a classic 5000 square foot home with many bedrooms and bathrooms, and the Jazz ended up with some fixer-uppers and enough cash to fix them up into something. But one year later, the Jazz have just one fixer-upper, less cash, and do not appear to be anywhere near the same size mansion that the team sold to the Timberwolves.
I like what the Minnesota Timberwolves are doing. But I have to admit, I’m not really sure what the Utah Jazz organization is up to right now.
So for those of you who read to the end, let’s answer the question. Did the Minnesota Timberwolves out-draft the Utah Jazz? Well, despite more picks and better picks, I don’t believe that the Utah Jazz closed the gap between the two teams. In fact, for the record, I believe that the gap between the two teams may have widened.
The Jazz organization still has three more drafts with a Timberwolves first-round pick ahead of them. But so do the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Timberwolves have the draft whisperer, Tim Connelly.