The Timberwolves should have a clear priority on draft night

There is one specific priority Minnesota should have at the top of their list heading into NBA Draft night.
Alex Sarr, Tyler Smith
Alex Sarr, Tyler Smith / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The Minnesota Timberwolves have built a winning roster under the leadership of President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly, and it all began with a draft pick: Anthony Edwards in 2020. Winning the draft lottery four years ago, the Wolves earned the chance at a top prospect and took a swing on a talented youngster who was surrounded by split opinions at the time.

With other carefully-planned moves and steady internal development, Minnesota slowly grew into a true powerhouse in the Western Conference - a concept that would have felt like a dream to Wolves fans just a few short years ago. Now, as the 2024 draft stands just 11 days out, there is one specific priority the Timberwolves should have in using both their 27th overall first-round pick and their 37th overall second-rounder.

First, let us think back to the last several years and consider the players Minnesota has chosen to bring in with their draft selections. The Wolves have had five total draft selections (that did not end up getting traded) since the end of the 2020 draft where Edwards was selected. The five players Minnesota ended up with were Matteo Spagnolo, Josh Minott, Wendell Moore, Leonard Miller and Jaylen Clark.

All those players, even the first-round picks, were drafted with the intent of getting more of a long-term project kind of prospect, and none of them were expected to contribute to the team in the regular season right away. True to form, not one these players has become a legitimate rotation-level player yet.

Minnesota should look for players ready to contribute immediately

As such, the Timberwolves should tweak their strategy just a bit for this draft and look for players they believe have a skillset that will allow them to make meaningful contributions in an NBA setting from day one. Now, that may seem like I am making an obvious statement, but it is clear that the Wolves have been intentionally opting for less "win-now" players over the last several years, with a lot of stock being put into their current roster.

And rightfully so, as Minnesota can boast some of the best top-level talent in the league. But with how constrained they are financially and how hard it will be to make moves this summer given they will be hovering around the second apron, one option to find upgrades for the roster that can help the team in the playoffs next spring is of course through the draft. Tyler Smith, for example, is a player with pro experience already under his belt that could contribute to this team as a 3-and-D wing.

This strategy becomes an even smarter move when we consider what the general perception has been around this year's draft to this point. Many believe that this draft is one of the weakest we have seen in years, with few legitimate contributors to go around. That makes it all the more worth it for the Timberwolves' talent evaluators to put in extra research and work to find a diamond in the rough.

Jaden McDaniels was taken at the end of the first round. Rudy Gobert was taken at the end of the first round. There are almost certainly some worthwhile prospects hidden in this draft that can help the Wolves from day one, and Tim Connelly would be wise to take this strategy on the 26th.