Leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft, we are going to preview each team in the lottery for their needs. Taking a look at the teams individual strengths, weaknesses, roster, and what prospects would fit in with the current and future plans.
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If all things were created equal the Minnesota Timberwolves would have been the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and the world might not have seen the Indiana Pacers dropped to their knees for seven games. Instead, the T-Wolves take to the 2014 NBA Draft with the No. 13 overall pick and some holes to fill with a new coach that is still To Be Determined.
Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.
ONE: 2014-2015 Potential Roster Review
A new head coach may not necessarily make this a better team, but the T-Wolves are going to return a majority of the roster from last year and have a new direction. When fully healthy this was a fringe NBA Playoff team and when hampered with injuries they were about as bad as other team in the lottery.
Four of the five starting spots are likely to be filled by incumbents Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. The other wing spot is open for debate between Chase Budinger, free agency, or via the NBA Draft at this point, but they did invest some money in Budinger. They lack playmaking from areas outside of Rubio and Love for the most part and are not a very “tough” or “athletic” team as a whole. A major upgrade in that department would benefit them overall as well as more of a punch from the perimeter.
TWO: Biggest Strengths
They can rebound. With Love, Pekovic and the emerging Gorgui Dieng, the T-Wolves have a nice rotation of big men that can rebound the ball. In today’s NBA you have to build from the outside in, but they decided to do things the other way around with Love as the cornerstone and a perimeter that is a work in progress.
THREE: Biggest Weaknesses
Perimeter defense and wing scoring could use a major upgrade in the land of the twin lakes. The last time the T-Wolves had a viable wing threat on the either end was Latrell Sprewell and he ain’t walking through that door… Opposing wings were able to score at will last season on the T-Wolves and they did not have the talent to, at the very least, get points back on the other end. Adding some scoring on the perimeter and/or a defensive specialist would help them get out of the bottom third of the league in steals, blocks, opponent FG percent, and opponent 3PT FG percent in the near future.
FOUR: Odds In The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery
The T-Wolves have a 0.6 percent chance (six total combinations out of 1,000) and a 96 percent chance of drafting exactly where they stand. They can also slide down to No. 14 overall if the Phoenix Suns move into the top three, which they would then forfeit the pick to the Suns based on a previously made trade. The most likely scenario is that the T-Wolves are drafting at No. 13, which has a nice history of producing stars.
Here is the Apocalypse Scenario: The Phoenix Suns move into the top three, the T-Wolves slide back to No. 14, and they send that pick to the Suns to complete the Robin Lopez-Wes Johnson trade from two years ago that gave the T-Wolves a second-round pick.
FIVE: Recent History of the No. 13 Pick
There is usually a “soft middle” in most drafts where the top talent is gone and the sleepers are still hibernating for another team. This is easily the worst part of any draft from a team perspective based on that logic, but talent can still be had. Outside of Sean May, Julian Wright and Brandon Rush, the last nine picks have been serviceable NBA players like Thabo Sefolosha, Ed Davis, Markieff Morris, and most recently, Kelly Olynyk. No stars like back in the 1990s with Kobe Bryant, Jalen Rose and Keon Clark.
Five Prospects That Make Sense For The Minnesota Timberwolves At No. 13 Overall
1. Gary Harris: 6-4, 210 pounds – G, Michigan State
Stats: (In 32.3 MPG) 16.7 PPG, 2.7 APG, 42.9 percent FG
Wishful thinking here, but if Harris falls down to this point then the T-Wolves would land a quality two-way player at the guard position that can compliment, and take pressure off of Ricky Rubio.
2. Marcus Smart: 6-4, 220 pounds – C, Oklahoma State
Stats: (In 32.7 MPG) 18.0 PPG, 4.8 APG, 29.9 percent 3PT
This is a league of playmakers and right now this team has one. Adding another dynamic guard that can defend and run the offense would be a big boost, but the combined shooting numbers would be devastating and not in a good way.
3. James Young: 6-6, 215 pounds – G/F, Kentucky
Stats: (In 32.4 MPG) 14.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 34.9 percent 3PT
Instant offense with the option of defense. Young has a hard time defending fringe college athletes so the NBA will be a tough adjustment, but he can shoot the three, get to the rim, and has shown he can score in bunches.
4. Tyler Ennis: 6-2, 180 pounds – PG, Syracuse
Stats: (In 35.7 MPG) 12.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, 35.3 percent 3PT
Assuming the Rubio Experiment does not pan out, bringing in a pass-first leader that excels in the pick-and-roll could only benefit Love and this team.
5. K.J. McDaniels: 6-6, 198 pounds – SF, Clemson
Stats: (In 33.7 MPG) 17.1 PPG, 2.8 BPG, 30.4 percent 3PT
Plan C? If all the “high potential” offensive prospects are gone, reaching for a great athlete like McDaniels, who has high value as a defender, shooter, and utility player, makes a lot of sense here.
The T-Wolves could use a few things to take that next jump from up the standings and into the playoff picture. Right now the Western Conference is nine teams deep with the potential to win 50-plus games so one draft is unlikely to change the team around in general. Getting a good long-term fit has to be the goal.
What do you think?
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