NBA Draft 2011: 10 Prospects The Minnesota Timberwolves Should Be Scouting

Joseph Fafinski@Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: 10 Prospects The Minnesota Timberwolves Should Be Scouting

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes knocks the ball away from Orlando Williams #15 of the Miami RedHawks at Value City Arena on November 26, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State won 66-45. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Im
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the middle of a dismal season, and with a 12-39 record they might as well look into next season's draft class.

    Going into next season not knowing whether Ricky Rubio will be penciled in as the starting point guard, the Wolves need to have some insurance at the one spot.

    Another position that needs to be improved upon is the shooting guard spot. I am growing tired of having average players like Wesley Johnson, Corey Brewer, and Wayne Ellington head the rotation.

    Another spot that needs polishing is the center position.

    Darko Milicic is fine, sure, but there a few worth scouting in the upcoming draft.

    In the upcoming slides, I have a list of 10 players whom Minnesota should spend there time scouting-- it might actually pay off for the club that hasn't seen much success in its history.

10. Marcus Morris, Kansas

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    LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 22:  Marcus Morris #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks walks off the court during a timeout during the game against the Texas Longhorns on January 22, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Marcus Morris of Kansas is already one of the most recognizable faces in college basketball. 

    Oh, wait, that could be twin brother Markieff Morris, also a Jayhawk.

    Nonetheless, Marcus is a solid NBA prospect and as a 6'9" power forward, he would be an excellent fit for the Timberwolves, and could be a viable bench player.

    He is very athletic, and has the size necessary to play in the pros.

    He is averaging 16.8 PPG and 6.9 RPG for the Jawhawks this season.

9. Kemba Walker, Connecticut

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 27:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies drives to the basket against Ashton Gibbs #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers at Petersen Events Center on December 27, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Gett
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Kemba Walker is a speed demon who is taking over college basketball with his quickness and his scoring ability.

    So why wouldn't we want to see him in a Timberwolves uniform next year?

    He's averaging a 23.2 PPG, and more than five RPG and four APG.

    The main reason he is so low on this list has to do with Ricky Rubio. There's still a small chance Rubio could join the club next year but if the Wolves trade his rights, I can see him starting at the point guard position.

8. Jimmer Fredette, BYU

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 05:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young University Cougars shoots a technical free throw during a game against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center January 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. BYU won 89-77.  (Photo by Ethan
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Jimmer Fredette is hands down the most prolific scorer in all of college basketball. 

    He is averaging 27.6 PPG, 4.3 APG, and shooting over 41 percent from downtown.

    The Glen Falls, New York native's biggest problem is that he plays for BYU.

    He has led the Cougars to a season that has seen 22 victories to just two defeats thus far.

    Like Kemba Walker, Fredette displays great leadership but has a jump shot to die for.

    I could see the Wolves pulling the trigger on a guy like him, and if Rubio doesn't work out it just equals out to more minutes for the under-appreciated Fredette.

7. Alec Burks, Colorado

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Alec Burks #10 of the Colorado Buffaloes moves the ball against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half during the first round game of the 2010 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Alec Burks is another guy who has sprung onto the college basketball scene during the 2010-11 season.

    He has an excellent shot, plays solid defense, and his potential is out of this world.

    The 19-year-old is mature beyond his college years, and will most likely be a lottery pick in the 2011 draft.

    The 6'6", 191-pound Burks would be a great fit for the Timberwolves. As the first shooting guard on this list, you will soon come to realize how truly important it is for the club to get depth at the two spot. Right now, I believe that they have a chance to improve upon the Corey Brewer-Wesley Johnson-Wayne Ellington rotation, and I think Burks is a better option than those three, and this is why they should scout him.

6. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

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    GREENSBORO, NC - DECEMBER 18:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots against Matt Hill #21 of the Texas Longhorns at Greensboro Coliseum on December 18, 2010 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Harrison Barnes might've been first or second on this list last season if the NBA still allowed players to go pro before enrolling in college.

    Unfortunately, the 2010-11 season has exposed some weaknesses for the 6'8" Ames, Iowa native.

    However, he is still the best power forward prospect on the draft board.

    He is putting up 13 PPG for the Tar Heels, but some say he is not NBA ready yet, and only time will tell on that watch.

    He has a great attitude and is willing to work hard for anyone, and this will bode well with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    As everyone knows, we are a struggling franchise, but with hard workers like Barnes that may soon turn around.

5. Brandon Knight, Kentucky

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    LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 29:  Brandon Knight #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the SEC game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on January 29, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 66-60.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    At just 18 years-of-age and two months old, Kentucky's Brandon Knight is the youngest player on this list.

    Like the other point guards mentioned, Knight will be ready to step onto the hardwood court of the NBA soon.

    At 6'3" and 185 pounds, Knight has great size and should be scouted by the Timberwolves if Ricky Rubio doesn't play in the Twin Cities.

    Additionally, he has lightning-fast speed and an above average shot.

    He is putting up 17.5 PPG to go with a mediocre (for point guards) 3.8 APG for the Wildcats.

    The only knock against Knight is that his passing is not up to par with that of pros, but I think that working with other guys who bring the ball up can help ease that weakness.

4. Enes Kanter, Turkey

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    The only international player on this list, Enes Kanter may be the spark that the Timberwolves need at the center position.

    Kanter, a 6'11" nightmare for defenders, has great post skills, shooting abilities, and he excels on defense.

    He dominated the 2009 U18 European Championships, averaging 18.6 PPG and a whopping 16.4 RPG. 

    He might not be projected to go until mid-first round, but if selected by my hometown team, Minnesota would have themselves a gem, and (you heard it here first) the steal of the draft.

    Teaming up with Kevin Love could make the two the best rebounding duo the league has seen in awhile.

    He is doing this all while flying under the radar, and the Wolves need to scout the big fella.

    Did I mention he is only 18-years-old?

3. Perry Jones, Baylor

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    Perry Jones will probably go number one overall in the 2011 draft.

    That doesn't mean he is a great fit for the Timberwolves though.

    At 6'11", Jones has the size of a power forward but the skills of a point guard. He can shoot, he can play defense, and he is an excellent passer.

    He seems to be the lone bright spot for Baylor this year.

    The freshman is putting up solid numbers in Waco, averaging 14.7 PPG, seven rebounds, and doing it all while shooting an amazing 57 percent.

    The problem with Jones and Minnesota has to do with a ping-pong ball. If the Wolves select first, Jones might be too good to pass up.

    Is he good enough to pass up Kevin Love? Only time will tell on that one.

2. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

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    CHAMPAIGN, IL - JANUARY 22: Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gestures toward the student section as he leaves the floor after the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall on January 22, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio Stat
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Jared Sullinger is the best player on the best team in the country.

    Doesn't that usually translate into a high pick in the draft and success at the next level?

    If not for Kevin Love, Sullinger would be number one on this list.

    He has a tremendous amount of potential, and he will undoubtedly leave Columbus after one season as a Buckeye.

    At 6'9" and 286 pounds, Sullinger has a body that can shake off defenders and rebound like no one else at the college level can.

    The problem with Sullinger coming to Minnesota would have to do with giving him a righteous amount of playing time. Since he would be undersized as a center, Sullinger would mostly be a sixth man off the bench in Minnesota if selected. 

1. Kyrie Irving, Duke

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    DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils watches on during their game against the Michigan State Spartans at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 1, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Saving the best for last, Duke point guard Kyrie Irving was averaging 17.4 PPG, 5.1 APG, and 3.8 RPG before tearing ligaments during a December match with Butler.

    Taking into account that he will be 100 percent healthy come June, Irving will be the best fit for any player in the draft for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    The T-Wolves will undoubtedly be scouting him, and currently they hold the league's second worst record. If they can get the second or third pick, Irving will be available for their taking.

    Selecting Irving in the draft would only help the Wolves trade Ricky Rubio's rights for a proven shooting guard.

    He is honestly worth it too, as he is a spot on shooter, displayed by his 45.2 clip from beyond the arc for the Blue Devils this season. In addition to his offensive skills, he knows how to lock down shooters, and snatched 1.5 balls away from opponents this season.

    Just thinking about Irving's potential is getting me and other Wolves fans excited.

    How good will he be?

    Scouts' number one comparison is Chris Paul, and that sure as heck is good enough for me.