That's especially true since superstar Kevin Love seems to be on his way out of Minnesota based on reports he's going to test the free-agent market in 2015. Such a scenario means the T-Wolves may be forced to deal him before the 2014-15 trade deadline or otherwise risk losing him for nothing in return.
That's a risk Minnesota can't afford to take. It needs to stockpile assets.
Now, the likely scenario of Love playing elsewhere makes Minnesota's priority in the draft unambiguous. Replacing an irreplaceable franchise cornerstone is the unenviable task it has ahead of it.
The first question any Minnesota fan should ask looking at the No. 13 spot would be whether Joel Embiid could potentially slip that far. While it's unlikely, even given the severity of his foot injury, he'd be the unquestioned best player available at this slot with tremendous upside.
Assuming Love departs, there will be few expectations for the T-Wolves to compete right away in the Western Conference, and having Embiid sit out a year—a la the Philadelphia 76ers this past season with Nerlens Noel—in order to make sure he's completely healthy could pay major dividends over the long haul.
But Embiid is a pipe dream despite the question marks. Someone will take him with an early lottery pick, and he could even be a top-five pick despite the injury.
Minnesota still has plenty of holes, so it has the ability at that spot to select the best player available. Here's an idea of what the T-Wolves' big board may look like leading up to the draft.
At No. 13
Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State, 6'10", 230 lbs
An athletic scorer with plenty of upside, Payne would be a solid selection at this point. The former Spartan showed what he's capable of by dropping 40 points in Michigan State's home opener while ill with mononucleosis.
Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA, 6'9", 238 lbs
LaVine has major upside after coming out following his freshman year in Westwood. He's a long body who can affect the game on both ends of the floor and provide steady scoring from the perimeter.
Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan, 6'6", 207 lbs
The T-Wolves struggled from beyond the arc last season, ranking 26th in the league in three-point shooting percentage. The Canadian would instantly improve that area and would complement Ricky Rubio as a scorer.
On to Round 2
In preparing for life without Love, Minnesota will have to find a player to develop who can take on the starting power forward role. Given the likelihood that the best available first-rounder will be a shooting guard or perimeter player, Minnesota will have three chances in the second round to find a diamond in the rough at the 4 spot.
If they do land Payne with the 13th pick, then the T-Wolves can look for the best available at any position, which could include a litany of promising prospects:
Picks 40, 44 and 53 each could see Minnesota add shooters. At least one more big man would make sense here as well. Here's a look at the talent that could be available for each of those picks.
C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington, 6'5", 200 lbs
As far as completeness goes, Wilcox comes NBA-ready as a 2-guard who can score from all three levels and has pinpoint accuracy from long range.
Though he's slightly undersized for an NBA 2, the T-Wolves would solve some of their deficiencies from the perimeter by selecting him at No. 40.
Spencer Dinwiddie, SG, Colorado, 6'6", 206 lbs
Though he's got decent size for a shooting guard at the NBA level, he lacks the frame and shies away from contact at the rim. One of the major concerns scouts have is his intensity, but he has a knack for scoring, and the T-Wolves need backcourt scoring.
Much like Wilcox, if he slips to Minnesota, it needs to take him with one of the early picks in the second round.
Johnny O'Bryant, C, LSU, 6'8", 257 lbs
Size is hard to come by in the NBA, and even though O'Bryant is an undersized big, he is used to being the focal point of an offense and can score in the interior. If he's available with either picks 44 or 53, he could be a nice pickup for Minnesota.
Dwight Powell, PF, Stanford, 6'11", 235 lbs
There's plenty of upside with Powell, who is somewhat lanky with a 6'11 frame. Nevertheless, his role as Stanford's go-to playmaker pegs him as a leader. If he can develop into a solid NBA rotation player, his skill set and work ethic could vault him to be a standout.
He's well worth a reach at picks 44 or 53.
Artem Klimenko, C, Russia, 7'1", 230 lbs
There's no telling if he'll come out or not, but if he does, the size and skill set are too much to pass up for a team in rebuild mode and in need of interior size.
Walter Tavares, C, Spain, 7'3", 260 lbs
For the same reasons Klimenko would do well with one of the Wolves' three second-rounders, Tavares makes sense as a flyer. His large frame is worth coveting, but when coupled with his sound mobility, it's easy to see why he could move the needle in Minnesota.
No matter what the T-Wolves do in the draft, the Kevin Love saga will dictate how they play their cards. Even if there's no resolution on Love by the time the draft commences, how they make their selections will be indicative of their thinking.
Will Minnesota grab a power forward? Will it stockpile talent in other areas in desperate hope of convincing their star to stay? All of the answers will begin to take shape when Adam Silver announces pick No. 13.
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