It's an exciting time to be a Minnesota Timberwolves fan.
Ever since new GM David Kahn took the job 33 days ago, he's already won over many of the hearts and minds of a dying and pessimistic fan base simply by doing two things:
1. He got rid of his predecessor and current interm coach Kevin McHale who 99 percent of Wolves fans would tell you was long overdue.
2. He actually added picks (Washington's No. 5 overall) instead of foolishly trading them away as McHale had penchant for.
Kahn has said repeatedly that he will not trade both the No. 5 and No. 6 in any deal (the same deal) in order to move up to No. 2 as rumored in order to take someone like Hasheem Thabeet out of UCONN or Spain's Ricky Rubio.
That should ease some fans, like me.
While I do not want Rubio, certainly at No. 2 because I am skeptical of European players' games translating to the NBA, especially at his young age (18) with understandable minimal experience and paltry stats (10.0 PPG 6.1 apg), it does make more sense to take a risk such as this when you now have two lottery picks to play with as the Wolves now do.
Of course that second pick No. 6 better work out to the tune of an All-Star just in case Rubio doesn't pan out as expected. I also don't like Rubio because I'm afraid his Spanish team won't let him out of his contract and we could be seeing a Fran Vazquez situation all over again.
That is my worst fear, throwing away a lottery pick just as the Magic did in 2005. Mix this possibility in with the fact that the Wolves have never had foreign success outside of Rasho Nesterovic (if you can call that "success") and I don't like their chances at making this one work.
I don't want Thabeet since I think he, much like this whole draft will be hit or miss. He'll either be Dikembe Mutombo or Saynor Sene just as Chad Ford said on Mike and Mike on Tuesday. Further, I think he could be a DeSagna Diop or Yinka Dare and we all know how that turned out. Manute Bol anyone?
This draft has the makings of 2000 (one of the worst in my life) or 2001 all over again. Kahn wil either come out looking like a genius and will be praised by the league and media for setting his new team up for instant success (and a shot at a No. 7-8 seed) or it will be total failure and the fans will stay away in droves again. I see no middle.
So what are the Wolves to do? Here's what I'd like to see
No. 5 Wolves draft SG James Harden out of Arizona State and No. 6 Wolves draft PG Stephen Curry out of Davidson.
As someone who has seen Curry play numerous times, sometimes you can just tell when a player "has it" and he does. If its gaudy PPG don't convince you (an NCAA-leading 28.2) then his bloodline should as his father, Dell, not only made it to the NBA, but had a long and fairly successful career as a journeyman three-point specialist and worthy veteran.
Curry: Best Case Scenario
Stephon Marbury (without the baggage, should make Wolves fans happy about a chance for this mulligan).
Worst Case Scenario
Adam Morrison, Gonzaga: Again he's got the bloodline and the fact he's black prove to be better indicators of success. My only worry is the level of competition that he faced at tiny Davidson and how that might translate.
If the Wolves are nervous by his desire to play elsewhere evidenced by his skipping a Target Center workout, no one wants to play in Minnesota. Everyone wants to play in New York where they can be marketed and live the high life in the big City. Curry is no exception.
Maybe they could bring a little New York to him by hiring former Knick great, and New York native, Mark Jackson to be their Head Coach as is rumored. Curry would instantly learn from one of the best and could prove to be a fan favorite as one of the young and up-coming faces like when Avery Johnson was.
Wherever Curry ends up, he's my pick for Rookie of the Year.
The more I hear about this 20.1ppg sophomorethe more I like him. Kahn just dumped his back court of Randy Foye and Mike Miller so a Harden-Curry combo makes sense. I doubted Russel Westbrook last year and he proved me wrong and he played in the PAC-10 too.
Best Case Scenario: Ray Allen
Worst Case Scenario: DeJuan Wagner, Cavs (when they were bad B.LBJ)
The Wolves also have the No. 18 and No. 28 picks in the first round.
While I don't expect them to keep all these picks since you can't pay and play four rookies in one year and add them to an already insanely young team as the Wolves are and not expect a 15 win season, here is where some trades should and probably will come in which makes tonight exciting for Wolves fans.
Note their current roster includes too many players to suit up and that is before a potential four new additions in the first round alone. Trades have to come.
I'd try something like No. 18, No. 28, and Brian Cardinal (expiring contract) to the Charlotte Bobcats for Gerald Wallace or raid a team like the Houston Rockets for some of their young talent like a Luis Scola or Aaron Brooks.
The lineup could look like this:
C Al Jefferson/Shelden Williams
SF Gerald Wallace/Ryan Gomes
PF Kevin Love/Craig Smith
SG James Harden/Rodney Carney/Corey Brewer
PG Stephen Curry/Sebastian Telfair
Note, I didn't include any of the new players acquired in the Washington trade as I don't expect any of them to ever suit up for the Wolves. They will either be bought out (Etan Thomas) or used as trade chips tonight or in the summer once free agency stats (Darius Songaila, Oleksiy Pecherov).
This instantly creates a young and exciting nucleus filled with possibilities and potential for the future. Jefferson (24) Love (20) Harden (20* when season starts), Curry (21) would remind Wolves fans of the much improved Portland Trailblazers and not only compare favorably but also remind their own base of the potential that a Garnett-Marbury-Gugliotta future could have included had Marbury not cried his way out of town during the 1998-99 season.
Scenario No. 2 Wolves trade No. 5, No. 6, No. 18, No. 28 to LA for No. 1 (Blake Griffin)
It wouldn't surprise me to see the Wolves trade all four picks to the LA Clippers for the No. 1 pick and the rights to Blake Griffin. Why else would they want to acquire all these picks as they demonstrated the other day with Washington when everyone else could tell you this is a weak draft?
I however think this would be a bad move not only because you are basing that Griffin will be a Tim Duncan-like All Star every year until he retires, but he'd also have to be to justify the move. On top of that, they already have a long jam at forward with Love and F/C Jefferson so this wouldn't make sense but I'm just throwing it out there in case. Don't say you didn't hear it anywhere...
Scenario No. 3 Draft Stephen Curry and haggle him to the highest (and dumbest) bidder (This means you, Knicks)
We could write all day about how the Wolves could move up anywhere from No. 1-4 and how exactly they could do that in order to get a certain player. Here is how I see the draft laying out however:
No. 1 Griffin LA Clippers somehow the Clippers will mess this up. My guess he gets "his" stats but the team stil finds a way to lose on the court.
No. 2 Hasheem Thabeet Memphis Grizzlies I think he'll be a bust here, partly because Memphis is a mess that I don't think can be solved regardless of who lands here. Mike Bibby was a nice player but couldn't do anything here. Rubio would be the same.
No. 3 Tyreke Evans OKC
No. 4 James Harden Sacramento Kings sleeper ROY?
No. 5 Ricky Rubio Wolves
No. 6 Stephen Curry, Wolves*
It wouldn't surprise me to see the Wolves take someone they want legitimately and that they intend to keep with the No. 5 pick and toy with the No. 6 pick by taking Curry and waiting for the highest bidder such as the New York Knicks to come in and make a typical dumb offer like they've done in the past.
However, outside of a few future first round picks, there isn't a whole lot on their roster that I'd want outside of maybe Nate Robinson or David Lee and I'm not even that sold on him in that last season might have been an outlier year.
For all the bad press this weak draft gets, there are some real gems to be had in the 2nd round should they make it that far. For instance, I've seen LSU guard Marcus Thornton play and he's a real dominating force. He'd be a nice risk to take with either the No. 45 or No. 49.
Similarly, Chad Ford's No. 60 overall, "Mr. Irrelevant," Jodie Meeks, out of Kentucky, should not be overlooked. Not only do 23.7 ppg speak for themselves, but considering none of the Wolves second round picks were ever worth a damn outside of Craig Smith, why not take a risk? At the very worst, he provides excellent depth and has so much potential.
While he only had one year as a a legit star on a bad UK team, he did play some good competition in Florida, LSU, and Mississippi State, not to mention torching Tennesee, the preseason SEC favorite, for 54 points, so its not like he beat up on A-10 teams.
In the end the Wolves will probably take Rubio No. 5, a big at No. 6 and a Euro at No. 28 that they can "store" overseas (i.e. never see him make it to the NBA anyway).
Let's just hope someone gets "Kahn-ed" tonight giving Wolves fans real reason to be optimistic for the first time in a long time. That, like the team, would be a welcome change.
Also, don't rule out any "midnight deals" like we saw last year with O.J. Mayo where we wake up thinking the draft is set when in fact, its not.