The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the highest draft pick in the team's history, selecting in the number two spot in the upcoming NBA draft. As is the luck of a franchise needing a bit of luck, they just missed out on the opportunity to draft in the number one slot, giving them even more options on draft night. However, with recent reports of Ricky Rubio finally ready to sign on the dotted line and join the team next year—if there is a season—it eases the pain of missing out on the top pick some and also helps aid in the decision making process.
After all the discussions and waiting for Rubio the past two seasons, you can expect he will receive as many of the minutes as he can handle. The Timberwolves have already discussed options to bring in another veteran point guard along with Luke Ridnour to help mentor Rubio during his first season in the league. That is, someone who would understand they would not receive much playing time behind both Rubio and Ridnour. That is one of the many reasons why Jonny Flynn is out there in trade rumors and it is expected he played his last game with the Timberwolves already.
This brings us back to the number two pick in the draft and what the Timberwolves should do with it.
Recent reports state the Timberwolves are in discussion with the Toronto Raptors regarding a deal which would send Jonny Flynn and the number two pick to Toronto for guard DeMar DeRozan and the number five selection. While the Timberwolves should continue their due diligence to see if they are able to get more from their assets than only DeRozan, if this is the best they can do, they should think long and hard about it.
Without question, the Timberwolves have a nice core of talented, young players. To name a few, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson and, apparently, Ricky Rubio. If they were able to add a player of DeRozan's athleticism and promise, it would be difficult to pass on it since he plays a position of need for the team. As a young player, he does have flaws in his game, such as his difficulty in shooting the three, but coming into his third year, he may be ready to completely break out.
Receiving a significant jump in playing time in his second season, DeRozan was able to bring the additional boost in production. He is shaping into a flat-out scorer, despite his limitations shooting the ball. The Timberwolves are coming off a season in which both Kevin Love and Michael Beasley made great strides in their own respective third seasons, so it is more than possible to imagine the same happening for DeRozan in Minnesota knowing his work ethic.
These recent reports also beg the question: what is the plan for the Timberwolves at the center position? Darko Milicic put up respectable numbers last year when properly focused and motivated, but the ability to project his production from game to game is nearly impossible. Nikola Pekovic showed progress throughout his rookie season and gave great effort, but still has a long ways to go in his development. While most teams in the NBA don't have a terribly imposing center dominating the ball, the Timberwolves can get away with adding big bodies to the mix, but do they really think Anthony Randolph can play a majority of his minutes at that position?
Both the shooting guard and center positions are the glaring weaknesses for the Timberwolves, but with the players they already have on the perimeter it may make more sense to address the center position first. Some reports have the Timberwolves trading down in the draft to pick up Enes Kanter to play the position, while also picking up any of a number of unnamed veterans and unknown positions as well.
This is why the DeRozan trade would make sense for the Timberwolves. If the trade goes down as currently discussed, the Timberwolves would be able to address both positions. DeRozan immediately takes over the shooting guard position and Minnesota could take a bit of a flyer on Kanter at the number five selection, adding to their center position. This could give the Timberwolves a hypothetical lineup that would look like this:
PG – Rubio, Ridnour
SG – DeRozan, Ellington, Webster
SF – Beasley, Johnson, Hayward
PF – Love, Tolliver, Pekovic
C – Randolph, Kanter, Milicic
Of course, there are many areas of flux in that rotation depending on how training camp would shake out and which players play their way into a starting spot or getting big minutes off the bench. However, as is well-known, draft days for the Minnesota Timberwolves are anything but ordinary. David Kahn may have something up his sleeve where he believes he is pulling one over on the rest of the league, but by moving on this trade - if it goes down as rumored - he could add more talent to his team. He would solidify roles more than they were last year as well, allowing the players a bit more comfort on the court.
More deals may present themselves before the draft or on draft day, so the Timberwolves should continue to shop around. However, if this is the deal that occurs, it would not be the worst thing for Minnesota as they continue to attempt to rebuild.
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