Grade the Trade: Minnesota acquires point guard of the future in mock deal

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five
Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages
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Grading the trade for the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves would be adding a rising star talent to a position of relative need with the addition of Garland. Although the Wolves re-upped Conley's contract for two additional seasons just a couple of months ago, he'll be 39 years old by the time his pact expires.

At this point in his career, Garland is an offensive ace, yet a defensive liability. However, his lack of defensive acumen is overstated. Prior to this past season, in 2022-23, Garland's opponents shot only 1.9 percent better when guarded by the Cleveland floor general.

This previous season, Garland regressed on the defensive end. His opponents shot 4.5 percent better when defended by the 24-year-old guard. His steal numbers have always been decent, but that's likely a testament to his quick hands. With a slight frame at 6-foot-1, he'll likely always be sought out on defense.

What Minnesota provides Garland with is a towering backline and lanky perimeter defenders. The Cavaliers employed the former but never enjoyed a disruptive backcourt during Garland's tenure. Alongside Garland would be Edwards and Nickeil Alexander-Walker—two 6-foot-5-plus wings.

Garland's role on the Wolves wouldn't comprise defending any bigger guards. He'd be assigned to defending the opposing squad's smallest player. And surprisingly, he did a fine job defending star point guards. Tyrese Maxey, De'Aaron Fox, and even Conley all shot below 50 percent from the floor when defended by Garland.

Now, onto what makes the 24-year-old so special. Garland's combination of ball-handling and shot-making is quite impressive. He has a lightning-quick handle, with a vast array of dribble moves. This season, Garland was relegated to more of an off-ball role, limiting his pull-up ability.

In a reduced on-ball role, Garland's shooting percentages have dipped. He's a better off-the-dribble, in-rhythm shooter than a standstill marksman. In Minnesota, he'd be able to operate as such. For instance, this past season, Conley averaged more pull-up 3-point attempts than spot-up looks.

While Garland's offense would be a boon for Minnesota, losing Conley and McDaniels would assuredly sting. Although he's not as good as Garland, Conley is a perfect fit on a contending team. As evidenced by the D'Angelo Russell-Mike Conley swap a season ago—the veteran point guard affects winning.

Conley is an experienced floor general, a fantastic team player, and an offensive chess piece. The 36-year-old guard has appeared in 88 playoff games during his career, compared to Garland's 17. The Wolves would risk a shift of chemistry dealing the veteran guard.

McDaniels is a much more difficult loss at this juncture in his career. He's a 23-year-old defensive dynamo who fits Minnesota's culture. A McDaniels-Edwards wing combo is rigorous for an offensive pairing.

Potential starting lineup: Darius Garland, Anthony Edwards, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert

The Wolves earn a C+ for this hypothetical trade. Although Garland is a glitzy addition, Minnesota has found extraordinary chemistry with the current roster configuration. The contracts of McDaniels and Conley are affordable to keep the core intact for years to come. A low-usage floor general in the mold of Tyus Jones would likely suit the Wolves' structure better than Garland.

Minnesota Timberwolves. Timberwolves Grade. C+. Darius Garland is the best of the of the four players in the deal. However, trading away two core players from a 56-win squad isn't the brightest idea if prioritizing team chemistry is emphasized..