Wolves Connelly draft adds fuel to fire of winning Gobert trade

Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

If you are still shaming and blaming Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly for taking a huge risk trading for All-Star center Rudy Gobert after the 2022 NBA Draft, let’s just park all of that vitriol and negative energy to the side. I won’t even try to change your mind in this article, as I merely want you to give yourself a break from the hate and open your mind to some positive developments.

Since the big-ticket trade, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been quietly but superbly executing small and subtle personnel moves that have slipped under the radar, but are shoring up the Timberwolves roster significantly enough to believe that the 2023-24 NBA season has a much better chance of success.

When Jaylen Clark gets healthy, the Minnesota Timberwolves can expect to discover a velcro-like defender who is relentless. Of course, defense is only part of the equation, and the Wolves will need to get Clark’s offensive output advancing and incorporating a bigger arsenal of shot selections.

The journey is long, not simply the first bus stop

But rookie SG Jaylen Clark is just one of the two rookies selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Timberwolves have paired him with a rebounding maniac with point guard ball-handling skills.

Best of all, both rookies selected are viewed as having first-round draft projects. In short, both are considered high-value additions to the Timberwolves roster.

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Players, not picks, matter

Let’s stop ranting about draft picks. Picks are worthless until they are used to become new rookie reinforcements to an NBA team’s roster. So realistically, what good are 10 picks to a team that has only two or three roster openings? And that is just one of many uncertainties that accompany draft picks.

It isn’t the picks, but the eventual players who are added to the roster. Beyond that, it’s the struggle to find the right mix of present-day productive players to balance the roster with players who are developing for future roles. It’s a constant battle of NBA roster building to upgrade weaker positions and players while retaining the best players on the roster.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are not reinventing the wheel here.

The Timberwolves simply have invested in talented young players, not draft picks. That is a significant distinction to make. And the results are not hidden. In the past two seasons, the Utah Jazz have fallen from a record of 49-33 to that of 37-45, a drop of 12 games.

Timberwolves were resilient in 2022-23, now the team will be successful

Despite a roster riddled with injuries, the Timberwolves dropped from a record of 46-36 to that of 42-40, a drop of just 4 games. That is despite the fact that the Timberwolves roster was without star Karl-Anthony Towns for nearly 75 percent of the season, and after surrendering five players to the Utah Jazz.

Only center Walker Kessler remains on the Jazz roster from that trade.

For the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team has acquired C Rudy Gobert, PG Mike Conley Jr., and SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, plus three future second-round picks. But those picks, or at least one of them, helped the Timberwolves to get into position to select rookie Leonard Miller.

While many judged the initial tipping of the scales, it’s clear that the Minnesota Timberwolves are fitting players to the Timberwolves roster like a person might select and fit pieces into a jigsaw puzzle. There is a plan in place, and each new piece fitted to the picture enhances the Timberwolves roster even further.

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The Timberwolves ran into some bad luck last season. Look for their luck to change this year.