2 Late first-round draft options for the Wolves

The Timberwolves hold their first-rounder this year. Here are two players projected in the late first round that may fit their needs.

Providence v Marquette
Providence v Marquette / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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1. Melvin Ajinca | 6’8, France, SG/SF, 19 years old

The Timberwolves' recent acquisition of T.J. Warren highlighted a need for additional scoring on the wing. Enter Melvin Ajinca, a versatile 6-foot-8 shooting guard/small forward from France. In his youth, Ajinca has showcased his scoring ability, averaging 15.1 points per game along with 4.6 rebounds across all competitions this year.

Ajinca was a standout in the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup, where was named to the second team All-Tournament team.

What makes Ajinca particularly intriguing is his ability to excel as a 3-level scorer. Shooting 35.8 percent from beyond the arc and an impressive 86.7 percent from the free-throw line this year, he possesses the shooting touch to stretch the floor and create spacing.

His athleticism also allows him to attack the rim with authority, providing an added dimension to his offensive game. Ajinca could fill a dynamic bench-scoring role similar to that of Tauren Prince from previous seasons in Minnesota—a role that has been missed in the second unit this year.

While Ajinca may still be a raw prospect, his athleticism gives him the potential to develop into a dynamic scoring threat. The Wolves could really use a dynamic athlete in their second unit next season at a rookie-level wage. Ajinca's skill set and overall upside could make him an enticing option for Minnesota in the later stages of the first round.

Bleacher Report's latest mock draft places Ajinca at pick 45. 

Given the constraints of their future salary cap situation, the Timberwolves will likely need to utilize the draft to fill important roles on team-friendly contracts. The upcoming 2024 NBA Draft presents an opportunity to do this, and Tyler Kolek and Melvin Ajinca both stand out as intriguing prospects who may be good options late in the first round. 

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