If Hell Freezes over, and the NBA Draft Lottery actually works according to plan, my, and many other T-Wolves fan's, faith in the controversial system would be restored.
The Wolves would be assured of drafting either John Wall, whom many see as the prize of this class, or the “consolation prize,” Ohio State combo guard Evan Turner. While you likely cannot go wrong either way, Turner would better suit Minnesota for a number of reasons.
Wall is only attractive to Minnesota as part of a major roster overhaul. His presence would essentially force at least one trade now, involving Ramon Sessions, and likely another in a year, involving Johnny Flynn. But these trades would only take place after it was assured that Ricky Rubio was coming to Minnesota, as I pointed out in my last column.
This option remains exciting. By executing a number of trades, the Wolves could continue to find missing pieces. And there are a lot of those when you are coming off of a franchise-tying low of 15 wins this season.
Wall would also bring flash and intrigue to the Wolves. ESPN and the national media would now have a reason to watch, and follow, Wolves' games.
The Wolves would have a legit future star on which to build around. But in reality, Turner does all that and more.
The Marbury Mulligan: Complete with a better attitude
What's the one thing Minnesota has never had but that all good teams need? A slasher that can get to the basket and create his own shot.
Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James do this with ease and, not coincidentally, their teams win games. The Wolves thought they had their slasher in 1996, when they drafted Stephon Marbury out of Georgia Tech. Marbury lived up to the expectations for two seasons before forcing his way out of town.
Turner has the ability to do everything that Marbury did and more. Turner will also do it with the right attitude, as he would instantly become the first prized Minnesota rookie since Marbury.
There's a case for Wally Sczerbiak, as evidenced by his lone All-Star appearance.
While I certainly liked the guy, Wally's number was never going to be hanging from any rafters. Turner could see his name permanently displayed near the top of the arena if he reaches maximum potential.
Great players make multiple All Star apperances, great players make All-NBA teams and great players win scoring titles. Turner can do all that if he has a successful team around him.
The wolves are also missing an emotional leader on the floor. Turner fits both roles.
Last year’s team looked lost most of the time. Flynn made way too many bad decisions, especially with turnovers on fast breaks. Turner seems to want the ball, and will embrace his role as “go-to” guy in or out of the paint.
Why has so much praise been thrown at a kid before he's even played an NBA game? Why can the same not be said about John Wall, whom many compare to Derek Rose or Rajon Rondo? We’ll for one, point guards in the NBA are supposed to be good. I expect Wall to flourish, given he has all the talent and went to a legit school, Kentucky, that played off those skills.
More importantly it is because of the good point guards: Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, John Stockton and Jason Kidd, that we’ve been desensitized to the great floor generals.
Derek Rose isn’t even that good, but because he gets the job done at 20ppg and 7ast despite his age, he’s automatically catipaulted into elite status. If you are looking for just another 20 point/ 8 assist player then, by all means, Wall’s your guy.
But if you're looking for someone to be the Timberwolves' version of Kevin Durant, Evan Turner is a good option .
While Durant’s scoring average is probably unattainable for a player like Turner, there is no reason to believe that the Ohio State forward, who averaged 20-9-5 in his junior year, cannot at least put up those similar numbers right away in the NBA. In fact, I wouldnt’ be surprised if he soon puts up 25 per game.
Both Turner and Durant are tall, lanky and can rebound the basketball. They can can create their own shot, get to the basket and make the players around them better; something the Wolves desperately need.
To score 25 ppg in the NBA, you must be attempting at least double digit free throws every game. That’s only five trips to the line, or so. To get the other 15 ppg, Turner must make only seven shots if he were to average an easily attainable three point shot per contest.
Now, am I suggesting Turner is going to come out of the gate and average 25 for the whole season? No.
I see this as his maximum potential, obtained one day along with a slew of other accolades not limited to defensive teams, all NBA selections and the other qualities I noted earlier which constitute a star player. A successful year for Turner should be no less than 20 ppg. When you consider a similar combo guard, Tyreke Evans, just did this for the Sacramento Kings in route to the Rookie of the Year award, there is reason to believe Turner cannot at least match this production, complete with the award in tow.
Do not confuse this for a blind homerism pick. I believe whoever drafts Turner, whether it be the Wolves or some other team, will be getting a solid, rookie of the year candidate. They will be getting the rookie of the Year regardless of the system, the city they play in or the team they play with. Turner is just that good. As starving Wolves' fans, that’s all one could ask.
Why heap undeserved praise on a kid in terms of the NBA’s next torch bearer in Durant? Well, for one why not reach for the stars? Everyone is so enamored with the Thunder now so lets make a roster comparison in terms of talent should the draft fall into place:
Darko Milic Kristic- both foreign players who fit the system
PF Jefferson Jeff Green-young, improving players, Green’s more aggressive (rebounds and blocks but Jefferson’s more consistent
SF FA (or 16th pick) Durant-obvious advantage Oklahoma
SG Turner James Harden, the latter more of a defensive presense, the Corey Brewer of the Thunder
PG Johnny Flynn Russell Westbrook, Flynn can only dream to be the floor leader, the Rondo of the Western Conference, that Westbrook looks like he can be
Like Brandon Jennings last year who scored 55 vs the Golden State Warriors, I feel the sky’s the limit for a player like Turner who could someday match the feat, which cannot be said about Wall or Flynn as they won’t be electrifying, high scoring players.
I think Wall will be more consistent 17-6-9 nights but Turner will have more memorable, explosive, high-scoring ability while Wall will have more jaw-dropping on court decisions in his passing ability and highlight reel passes. Either way, we’ll find out in a little over a week if the Wolves are lucky enough to call one of these two their own, or if they have to settle for second best in Wesley Johnson, Derek Favors, or Demarcus Cousins.
Just say No to Wesley Johnson
All three players basically only had one good year at elite college level with the latter two being only freshmen similar to Wall. In their cases, I just don’t think one year is a big enough sample size against top competition so the potential to be a bust is greater especially in Johnson’s case, who attended the same school and played in the same system as Flynn and we saw how easily he transitioned.
Also note that Johnson in his one good year didn’t carry his team the same way Cousins or Wall did. Favors had weeks where he disappeared as well, Cousins doesn’t fill a Wolves need the same way Turner will if he becomes a Wolf.