A True Evaluation of Minnesota Timberwolves Pick Wesley Johnson's Upside

Timber WolfAnalyst IIJuly 19, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - MARCH 25: Wesley Johnson #4 of the Syracuse Orange looks on against the Butler Bulldogs during the west regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Energy Solutions Arena on March 25, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

If one word could describe what the Minnesota Timberwolves have done this offseason, there would be no need for paragraphs.

While critics have only had negative things to say at this point, I'm here to say there are more positives then negatives.

Minnesota Timberwolves' general manager David Kahn has been questioned for seemingly every move he has made, which started when he drafted Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio.

Kahn takes way too much heat. The NBA is a favoritism league, and the Timberwolves were being questioned too times for trading two players (Randy Foye and Mike Miller) for the fifth overall pick.

Randy Foye proved to be horrible once again, and Mike Miller wasn't a surprise. In all fairness, getting Rubio on the Wolves will prove to be more valuable than Foye and Miller ever were.

Kahn's moves will be truly evaluated later in the offseason.

Moving on.

While this offseason has experienced a lot of turnover and a lot of negativity from the media, the Minnesota Timberwolves have one bright spot, and that's Wesley Johnson.

The biggest knock amongst Wolves fans would be that they didn't take Demarcus Cousins with their pick. Cousins was projected to statistically be the best player in the draft, and the second overall prospect behind John Wall.

While this is true, it's also being said that the Wolves singlehandedly gave the Sacramento Kings (the team that drafted Cousins) the best young nuclus in the league, already having Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi.

I however would like to point out, that yes the Kings have a very bright future. But it would be no different if Wesley Johnson.

Tyreke Evans is a slasher point guard/shooting guard who's not really known for his ability off the ball or athleticism. Wesley Johnson and Tyreke Evans would be absolutely crazy, so I have to say that, either way, the Sacramento Kings were getting a very good player.

Now onto Wesley Johnson.

In enters a junior in high school, standing a mere 6'2'', playing the point but primarily the shooting guard. While it's unknown as to what kind of stats he put up, Wesley Johnson has been quoted to have been talking about playing the two guard, and no one really knows that he can handle the ball.

As a senior, Wesley shot up five inches, and a small forward was born with amazing athleticism, great footwork and quickness. Hence, there aren't too many small forwards that have that combination of smoothness and athleticism.


As a freshman at Iowa State, Wesley was named Big 12-all rookie team, averaging 12.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and starting 30 out of 31 games.  He had a game in which he put up 14 points and 13 rebounds in a win against Missouri, hitting the game winning tip in, and also scored 17 points against Texas A&M (ranked No. 10 at the time).


Johnson missed five games, and played with an injured ankle/fractured foot through the majority of the season, yet was still named all-Big 12 averaging 12.4 points and 4 rebounds a game. Johnson scored 20 points, shooting 5 out of 11 from the 3-point line against the eventually NCAA champion Kansas.

Following that season, Wesley would transfer to Syracuse, and because of that, he had to sit out a season.

Then Wesley goes from non-ranked to being as high as No.3 on mock drafts at the beginning of the NCAA season. He goes through a majority of the season, while averaging 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, and shooting 50% from the 3-point line. Unfortunately, he injured his shooting hand, but that barely slowed him down.

To make a long story short, Wesley Johnson was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that is in desperate for a star player.

Is Wesley Johnson that? If you consider the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant being No. 1 options, and say guys like Joe Johnson and a young Vince Carter to be No. 2 options, there's upside enough for Wesley Johnson to be that No. 2 option.

Because Wesley Johnson can shoot the ball well, also being able to play without the ball, and has a very good chance of being an outstanding defender, his upside resides on creating for himself. The knock on the possibilities for this is of course his ball handling deficiencies, that is according to the experts.

The experts have been wrong before, not to say that they aren't right, but Wesley's ball handling is slightly better than advertised. People only see his highlights, which clearly only shows his athleticism and three-point stroke. Rarely is the ball in Wesley Johnson in his hands to allow him to create his own shot.

Off the highlights, you won't see him crossing anyone by any stretch of the imagination, but creating his own shot is definitely not as glaring as a weakness as some make it to be. I, along with anyone that really knows his skill set, believe it's his mindset that creates that scoring mentality, which is his weakness.

While Wesley Johnson has only played one summer league game, it was clearly obvious that he can play at the NBA speed. Johnson showed that he doesn't waste possessions, takes smart shots, plays within his limitations, and he still has tons of potential.

I expect Wesley Johnson to start off pretty solid, and possibly produce rookie-of-the-year type numbers towards the end of the season.