In the midst of March Madness, this idea just came to me. Surprising, I know, but this was an article that had to be published as soon as possible.
Let me first express (before my T'Wolves bashing) that I am one of the biggest Timberwolves fans you will ever come across, especially considering there are so few of us these days.
Looking back now, if I were to give the Timberwolves a grade for their draft day performance, it would be an F--.
Now, David Kahn gets some bonus points for raking in ultra-talented forward Anthony Randolph at the deadline for pretty much nothing.
Randolph, by the way, had 31 points and 11 rebounds on 14-of-20 shooting in the absence of Kevin Love tonight. That was a little off topic, but we had to look to a bright spot before setting in on this monstrosity of a draft.
Let's start at the top. The Timberwolves lost out on the lottery, and had to settle for the fourth pick in the draft. With this pick, the Timberwolves decided to select Wes Johnson, a forward out of Syracuse. Personally, I thought this was the wrong pick at the time and I still feel that way.
I watched Syracuse play six or seven times that year, and it seemed to me as if Wes Johnson was more of a big man than a wing in college. He led the team in rebounding and played in the post quite a bit.
The problem is, none of those skills would translate to the NBA because he is extremely undersized for a big man. He stands at 6'7, and a lean 205 pounds, which makes him a stretch at small forward.
This season for the T'wolves, Johnson is averaging nine points and three rebounds in 26 minutes a game. He gets sixth-man minutes, but he doesn't really do all that much with them.
His PER or Player Efficiency Rating is a nightmarish 10.4, but hey, it's the Timberwolves so it would make sense that it's low, right? Wrong.
His 10.4 is tied for 10th on the team with Kosta Koufos. You saw that right. Kosta Koufos, and to think Johnson was a top-5 pick. Our lottery pick can't even pass up Kosta Koufos, who averages less than nine minutes a game. That's how you know he's bad.
Surprisingly enough, the worst thing about Wes Johnson is yet to come. The biggest problem with Johnson is that he's already 23 years old, and he'll be 24 in less than four months.
He's only six months younger than fellow Timberwolf and six-year vet, Martell Webster. Webster came out of high school, and is playing in his sixth season. Johnson was just drafted in 2010.
There are two significant drawbacks to drafting a 23-year-old player. First, he will have a relatively short career. Second, he has less room to develop. Think about it: Derrick Favors, who was taken just one pick before Johnson, is almost exactly four years younger.
This means that when Favors has been in the NBA for four years, he will be right where Johnson is now. Johnson will be almost 28. Think of how much development can take place in four years. Johnson is going to miss out on all of it.
Johnson is an explosive leaper, and he does have a pretty good jumper, but keep in mind he is shooting just 41 percent from the field (11th on the team) and 35 percent from downtown (seventh on the team). The one thing he's supposed to be good at (shooting), he's below average at.
Remind me again why we drafted this guy. I put the over/under of how many All-Star teams this guy will make at .5. I'll take the under.
What makes this pick much, much, much worse is that Demarcus Cousins was taken right after Johnson. Yes, the Wolves frontcourt is crowded, but for Cousins, you make room. They should have traded the players they have on that team, because Cousins is an absolutely special player. He actually has potential to make All-Star teams.
This season, Cousins is third on the Kings in scoring, and first in rebounding, averaging 14 points and almost nine rebounds a game. Those are some solid rookie numbers, and he will only continue to get better.
I know people are worried about his attitude, but I'd rather have a potential 10-time All-Star with some maturity issues than a career seventh man. Come on, Kahn, just take Cousins. Johnson is a scrub.
The next pick the Wolves had was the 16th overall pick. With this pick, they selected Luke Babbitt and traded his rights for Martell Webster. Webster's statistics this year are eerily similar to Wes Johnson's.
So much so that it's almost scary. Look them up. Seriously.
It also doesn't help the case for this pick that Webster has improved his scoring average by three points and his rebounding average by .8 from his rookie season five years ago.
Basically, the Timberwolves took Wes Johnson again with their 16th pick, except with even less upside and a few chronic back injuries. Great. Webster will undoubtedly suffer from injury on and off throughout his career.
Either Webster or Johnson will see the door at some point seeing as they are almost the exact same player. So much for that pick. With James Anderson, Eric Bledsoe, and Damion James still on the board, the T'wolves took Martell Webster.
The Timberwolves would then trade the 23rd overall pick and the 56th overall pick for the 30th and 35th overall pick. With their next pick, the Timberwolves would reach for Trevor Booker who is then traded to Washington.
It looks like an odd choice at the time, but Booker would end up having a decent PER (15.3) in his rookie season. Too bad he's with the Wizards. (Hamady Ndiaye was the other pick traded to the Wizards, but that's irrelevant).
The last three picks are really the icing on the cake. First, the Timberwolves took Lazar Hayward with the last pick in the first round. Hayward was 56th on Chad Ford's Big Board prior to the draft, and the Timberwolves reached for him. Although this wouldn't be their biggest reach. Or their second biggest reach. Oh boy.
Hayward is a 6'6 (power?) forward who just doesn't seem to fit in. He played in the post at Marquette and is seen as undersized. His PER with the Wolves this season is 10. It doesn't get much worse than that.
Some day he may be a decent defender, but I would be surprised if he ever averages double-digit points a game in a season. So now you think, it's an upside pick, right? Wrong again. Lazar Hayward turned 24 a couple months ago. At this point, I'm as confused as you are about this pick.
With the 35th overall pick, the Timberwolves selected Nemanja Bjelica. He was 67th on Chad Ford's Big Board, making his selection a huge stretch. Although he is 6'10, Bjelica resembles a point guard more than a power forward. He isn't good enough to bring the ball up the floor, so where does he fit?
If you have ever seen current Timberwolf Anthony Randolph, he is thin as a twig. Bjelica is about the same height, but he is 15 pounds less. He should probably put on at least 25 pounds before coming to the NBA, and also learn how to play in the post.
Something tells me that's not going to happen. Bjelica turns 23 in six weeks and certainly will not be in the NBA in the near future. Landry Fields was taken four picks later. Chalk this one up in the loss column. Yet another terrible pick.
The Timberwolves' last pick was 45th overall. They took Brazilian Center Paulao Prestes who was ranked 77th on Chad Ford's Big Board. Prestes is a very physical player, but outside of that there isn't really much to say. He can rebound, but he is extremely raw in every aspect of the game.
He probably won't be NBA-ready for at least three more years, which puts him at 26 years old. That's if he still wants to come to the NBA by then. At least this was the last pick.
As we can clearly see, the Wolves screwed up every single pick they made throughout the draft. Every single one of them. Sometimes, it's really painful being a Timberwolves fan. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and examine the picks without emotional attachment. David Kahn is a terrible drafter.
Let's say for a second you really want Hayward, Bjelica, and Prestes (why, I don't know). Trade for the last three picks in the draft and take them then.
It's possible that Hayward might be gone, but the other two would almost certainly be there. Why waste such valuable picks when you could get the same players much later in the draft? It just doesn't make any sense.
There is no doubt this is one of the worst drafting jobs ever done in the history of the NBA. Every pick is worse than the last. Basically three 23-year-olds, and a 24-year-old. So little production, so little upside.
The Timberwolves have had so much trouble rebuilding for a reason, and being a fan is more exhausting than ever. Someday, the Wolves will make a comeback, but for now let's take it one step at a time and shoot for a C- in the 2011 NBA draft. Look at the bright side, it can't get much worse.
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