The Wrath of Kahn: Dissecting the Timberwolves Draft
All calamities happen in threes. Deaths, natural disasters, and failed sitcoms ... and Minnesota Timberwolves draft picks. As in 2009, T-Wolves general manager David Kahn has three selections to make sweet mischief with.
Last year, Kahn infamously used them to select a trio of point guards: Ricky Rubio, who indefinitely delayed his NBA arrival; Jonny Flynn, taken with Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, and Ty Lawson on the boards; and later, Lawson, who was sent to the Nuggets. All in all, Kahn's night was one of the more bewildering in recent memory, a grand plan that had the unfortunate distinction of making no sense.
Since Rubio might still yet come to Minneapolis and turn into a star, we can't condemn it outright yet. As funny as it was when the Wolves went for PG number three, not keeping Lawson at least salvaged some of Kahn's sanity. That said, given what a deep draft it proved to be -- especially at that position -- it was, at very least, a tremendous waste of opportunity.
No one's really asked it much, because the inevitable answer is a punchline: "Kahn will draft three points guards, naturally." But the Wolves once again have three picks, one in the lottery and another close, with a talent pool thought to tail off abruptly, and then plateau, after the top 10. The question is, what does Kahn do this year to get us talking in the right way?
This isn't 2009. Instead of picking at 5, 6, and 18, the Wolves are sitting at 4,16 and 23. And, many will say, there's no way that 2010 -- a draft class high on question marks, low on magnetism -- could possibly belch out three quality players at those spot.
Then again, 2009 was thought to be similarly deep, if unimpressive; in that draft, Tyreke Evans went fourth, James Johnson went sixteenth (with Darren Collison on the board), and Omri Casspi twenty-third. That's got the benefit of hindsight, but it gives you some sense of what three picks could have netted Kahn. When a team goes 15-67, it can always use a infusion of young talent. That's what rebuilding is all about.
Last time around, Kahn needed a point guard, and it was raining guards. Too bad things aren't so simple this summer.
Here's where thing get tricky. Kahn is doing okay when it comes to big men, and this draft is rife with players destined to play the four or five as pros. Al Jefferson and Kevin Love are certified studs; it's a shame they can't seem to play together. Darko Milicic has found salvation in 'Sota, and now has talked about actually staying in America. The forgotten man of the 2003 draft looks to be coming along as a player, or at least a competent starting center.
With all due respect to Flynn, Ramon Sessions and the respect he never gets, and the near-fictive Rubio, the Wolves need help at guard. Swingman Corey Brewer has finally turned into the player he was expected to be when the team picked him seventh overall in 2007. Shame he can't shoot much. Ryan Gomes is sturdy, if unspectacular, at the three. Did I mention that this team needs help at practically every position but the four?
All that said, let's turn to the expert projections of our very own Tom Ziller. In his latest mock, TZ has the Wolves going with Evan Turner, followed by project center Solomon Alabi and Memphis-by-way-of-Duke off-guard, Elliot Williams. From where I'm sitting, this scenario is gravy for Kahn and his masses. Turner, ideally, takes pressure off of both Flynn and Brewer. Alabi provides an alternative to Darko in the middle, as does other possible pick Hassan Whiteside.
Alternatively, some folks have the Wolves going for another big man with their last pick, but I think trying to fortify their guard stable is the way to go.
Earlier in the week, though, Ziller wrote about rumors that the first five picks are set, with Syracuse's Wes Johnson headed to Minny. While not as versatile as Turner, Johnson is arguably a more NBA-ready, or at least well-defined, piece. Pairing him and Brewer, interchnagably, at SG and SF, looks bright for the future without disrupting, ahem, Flynn's development or Rubio's long journey home.
The Wolves could go with two mystery centers, and hope one proves worthy of unseating Darko. Or they could package some picks and move up, which would allow them to grab a seven-footer to bet the farm on, or some clear-cut guard help. At the end of the day, though, Minnesota is a team trying to move from pock-marked roster to attractive nursery school.
From there, there's a leap yet to get to real rebuilding. That's why I mention Sessions. Why not give him regular minutes, maybe even alongside Flynn?
It's not enough to get players. This team needs answers. If Kahn keeps his head on straight, though, the Wolves could emerge from this draft one step closer to legitimacy. Of course, now there's also the small question of Jefferson and Love. Minnesota has plenty of cap space this summer, but no one's heading there out of choice.
A trade, though, could exchange one of these young forwards for a proven vet. Combine that with a remotely sane draft night, and we might be seeing Kahn in an entirely different light come Friday.