Top Draft Options for T-Wolves to Get It Right with No. 9 Pick

Justin HussongContributor IIIMay 30, 2013

Flip Saunders takes over for David Kahn with hopes of coming out of the NBA draft with heads held high.
Flip Saunders takes over for David Kahn with hopes of coming out of the NBA draft with heads held high.Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, the NBA draft lottery. Minnesota Timberwolves fans have come to accept that David Stern's cruel little game of ping-pong balls is just as harsh as a Minnesota winter.

The squad will select No. 9 this year in a less-than-stellar draft. If anything, this draft has a lot of balance to it, so failing to move up this season was nothing compared to ending up with Christian Laettner third overall after Shaq and Alonzo Mourning went first and second.

The Timberwolves are typically about as unpredictable as any team in the draft. In recent years, they have collected a number of first-round picks and executed seemingly dozens of trades.

After an injury-plagued season, this team stands to improve drastically provided their health doesn't betray them once again. They are no longer in a position where they need to draft best player available, since their core is very much established.

Luckily for Flip Saunders, he is inheriting a team with one glaring weakness: shooting guard. With a number of assets, Flip will be able to just about pluck any shooting guard he wants from a draft that is fairly deep with talented wing threats.

As always, they do have options. Minnesota is making sure to leave no stone unturned, even entertaining the most far-fetched of possibilities, per Joe Kotoch of


1) Stay put at No. 9 and select Shabazz Muhammad out of UCLA.

Muhammad was a bit of an enigma in his one season in Westwood, and that's putting it mildly. He endured everything from ineligibility, not celebrating a teammate's game-winning shot and playing beer pong with his coach the night before a big Pac-12 game vs. Arizona.

The icing on the cake was when he and his father were caught lying about his age.

At the draft combine, Muhammad was among the worst shooters there. He put on a dismal performance in the shooting drills and left scouts clamoring for more.

As far as what Muhammad can bring to the Timberwolves, he is a ruthless competitor on the offensive end. He is a versatile scorer with supreme athletic ability who would fit well alongside Ricky Rubio in the backcourt.

Saunders is rumored to have an eye on Muhammad, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN, and for good reason. Minnesota lacks a legitimate scoring threat on the wing, and it would be disappointing to see them exit the draft without one.

Muhammad does appear to be too selfish at times, but he is a tremendously hard worker. He likes to run the break and is a knockdown shooter, so he could grow fond of Rubio very quickly as most players do.


2) Stay put at No. 9 and select C.J. McCollum out of Lehigh.

If Flip Saunders decides to go in a different direction, he could bring in the dynamic scoring guard out of Lehigh.

McCollum missed most of his senior season with a broken foot, but he has since fully recovered. He is a more versatile scorer than Muhammad with less strength and athleticism.

McCollum put his small Pennsylvania school on the map by leading them to a jaw-dropping upset over No. 2-seed Duke in the second round of the 2012 NCAA tournament. He can score from anywhere on the floor, has a tight handle and is an underrated athlete.

His problem is that he is a combo guard. He is smaller than Rubio and might struggle guarding shooting guards at the next level. This is something Saunders must consider if he elects to stay put at No. 9 and take a chance on McCollum.


3) Trade No. 9 pick, No. 26 pick, and other assets to Bobcats for No. 4 pick, select Victor Oladipo out of Indiana.

This is the move that would be in Minnesota's best interest.

Flip Saunders is said to be in love with Victor Oladipo and he has the assets and intentions of moving up to snag him, according to Wolfson. Instead of waiting idly to choose the best of whatever is left, moving on up to grab one of the gems of this draft would immediately erase all of the bad decisions David Kahn made while at the helm.

Oladipo's game skyrocketed this past season as he shot 44 percent from three and 60 percent from the field. He is a tenacious defender and shows more hustle and determination than anyone else in this crop.

Slotting him next to Rubio would fit like a glove. He threw down a 42-inch vertical at the combine and has already won over most GM's with his athletic prowess and improved overall skill set.

Oladipo could stand to improve his ball handling, but with Minnesota's current roster, he will not have to do anything outside of his current strengths right away. While his handling and shot-creation abilities improve, he can seamlessly run the court with Derrick Williams to throw down Rubio's lobs, hit open threes and swarm people on defense.

Minnesota is prepared to win now, and Oladipo is one of the most NBA-ready prospects available. Packaging a collection of assets for one stellar piece is absolutely the right move for Saunders at this juncture as the T-Wolves have no more time to wait around for kids to develop. Charlotte represents the perfect trading partner, since they need all the help they can get.

Next season in Minnesota will be an exciting one if Saunders can come up clutch in his first draft on the throne. This is a team that has not maximized their assets to their full potential in recent drafts. If Saunders can capitalize and bring in someone like Oladipo, it will signal the new era of winning basketball in Minneapolis.