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Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft: The 5 Best Fits For Minnesota

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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Not that long ago Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell were leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals. Now they are a shell of that, consistently sitting at the bottom of the NBA standings since. Once again they are in the lottery and once again they are searching for the next big thing in Minneapolis.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know About The Minnesota Timberwolves?
Of all the things we know about the T-Wolves is that they love point guards and tweener forwards. That is one thing they need to try and avoid as their future is basically wrapped around Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Derrick Williams. Going into the 2013-2014 season, the team has $46.5 million invested into 10 players, all of which are forwards or point guards other than Brandon Roy, who may never play basketball again.

At one point this season, Minnesota was 15-15 and looked like a potential playoff team as they were waiting for Rubio to get on the court. Instead, they lost Love to injury and fell back to a more familiar position.

Over the past five seasons, it may not be overtly obvious, but the T-Wolves have been the worst team in the NBA. They have done that without winning the lottery once, watching Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis land on other teams.

TWO: What Do They Need?
A true shooting guard. The Timberwolves have been trying tweener after tweener to fill in the two and the three spots over the years. They have never had a pure scorer there. Adding a third wheel to the Rubio-Love duo could be the difference for this team to make it out of the cellar of the Western Conference.

THREE: Stock Rising
As of late, Michigan State’s freshman guard Gary Harris has risen up draft boards to the point where some see him as a lottery pick. In speaking to a few NBA talent evaluators, he is not quite that high, but he is rising up boards. Harris has improved incrementally over the course of his first season in college, but still has a ways to go. He plays within the offense, but has shown some ability to break down the defense and be a go-to playmaker.

FOUR: Stock Falling
This season happens to have a resurgence at the center position. Because of that, there will be upperclassmen like Gorgui Dieng that fall down draft boards. He is not playing underwhelming basketball, but with a plethora of younger, more athletic fives in this class there is a realistic chance Dieng is a mid second-round pick if he declares as a junior this year.

Hit page 2 to see which five players make the best fits for Minnesota…

FIVE: Quick Hitter
Parity is ruling college basketball, draft boards, and the opinions of NBA decision makers. This past week I was able to speak to a handful of NBA scouts, personnel managers and front office decision makers. They all had different opinions about the ceiling of the prospects in the 2013 Draft class. There is no consensus top five or 10. This is a scenario that could get a general manager fired.

Position, upside and athleticism are common traits brought up when reviewing the prospects with these decision makers. They are always nit-picking at the little things a prospect cannot do or what they may not be able to do at the next level.

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Top 5 Fits For Minnesota Right Now

1. Ben McLemore: 6-5, 185 pounds – Fresh., Kansas
Stats: 16.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 50.2 percent FG, 42.5 percent 3PT
The ideal fit, with his shooting and athleticism, next to the playmaking of Rubio would be McLemore. He is the prototype at the two. He would not have any pressure to be a playmaker, easing his transition into the NBA.

2. Shabazz Muhammad: 6-5, 225 pounds – Fresh., UCLA
Stats: 18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.9 APG, 46.1 percent FG, 44.6 percent 3PT
One of the best catch-and-shoot wings in the class is Muhammad as he works the baseline well running off of screens. Much like McLemore, he would have little pressure landing on the T-Wolves.

3. Victor Oladipo: 6-5, 210 pounds – Junior, Indiana
Stats: 14.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.3 SPG, 63.4 percent FG
This is a different type of wing. Oladipo makes plays off of turnovers, in transition, and adds an energy to the team with his confidence.

4. Archie Goodwin: 6-5, 195 pounds – Fresh., Kentucky
Stats: 13.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 43.4 percent FG
He is a huge wild card for whatever team selects him. There is little doubt in terms of talent, but he does not always make the best basketball plays. Goodwin is a great athlete to complement Rubio and Love.

5. Alex Len: 7-0 225 pounds – Soph., Maryland
Stats: 12.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 53.9 percent FG
To go in a completely different direction, going after a young center that can play on the block may be a need. The team may lose Nikola Pekovic this offseason and Len would be a very good replacement long-term.

The worst team in the NBA over the past five years has needs across the board, but the glaring needs are on the wing and having players that can come in and play their natural position. They have solid talent in Rubio, Love, Williams, and Pekovic if he stays, but the team could still use some scoring on the perimeter.

*Minnesota’s first-round pick is owed to Phoenix, but it is top-13 protected in 2013…*

Which player in this draft would benefit Minnesota the most?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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