NBA Draft 2011: 10 Forwards Who Could Attract the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been stockpiling draft picks and young players since the Kevin Garnett trade and it has taken some time for those players to grow up. As a result, the Timberwolves have had three consecutive dismal seasons and a three lottery picks to show for their efforts. Even through the tough-to-watch seasons and head-shaking roster mistakes, the Timberwolves have a good core of young players that could take them to the playoffs in the near future.
The Timberwolves will have two first round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, one being a lottery pick and the other being the Memphis Grizzlies' first round pick. General Manager David Kahn hasn't done the best job in terms of drafting players, but the incredible talent depth in this years' draft will make it difficult to make mistakes.
Depending on whether or not you believe that Ricky Rubio will play a game for the Timberwolves, the only things missing for this team are a stud point guard, a defense, and worthy bench players, all of which could be found through this draft if Kahn makes the right moves. Finding quality forwards in this draft are key and these are some prospects that should catch Kahn's eye.
SF/PF Derrick Williams (Arizona)
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Size: 6'9" - 241 lbs
Strengths: Williams has fantastic footwork and fundamentals while in the paint. He knows how to create contact with the defender and get to the foul line as he averaged 8.7 free throw attempts per game. At 75 percent, he's an above average foul shooter. Good mid-range game and can shoot from 10-15 feet out effectively. He has the ability to knock down three pointers and made 57 percent of them in the 2010 season. He has a way of shielding his defender as to not have his shot blocked. He has a high defensive IQ and understands the game on both sides of the floor. Williams doesn't foul a whole lot, averaging just 2.8 fouls a game. His excellent wingspan allows him to pull down rebounds successfully. He's a decent (not great) shot blocker.
Weaknesses: Williams would be undersized as a power forward in the NBA. He doesn't have the speed and agility most NBA small forwards possess so that may be a problem. He needs to work on his passing skills and vision while in the post.
The Timberwolves would end up with Derrick Williams by selecting him with their lottery draft pick. He very well could be the first player taken in the upcoming draft and possibly to Minnesota. While this isn't a perfect fit for Williams, due to Kevin Love and Michael Beasley already being here, he is the best player available and it would be hard to pass on his talent.
SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
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Size: 6'8" - 210 lbs
Strengths: There's no need to question Barnes' as an athlete; he epitomizes athleticism. That's not to take anything away from the mental side of Barnes because he makes good decisions with the ball and is a student of the game. He can make shots from anywhere on the court whether it be mid-range or beyond the arc. He drives the lane as well as anyone. He portrays a great attitude on and off the court. He's a team player and wants his teammates to put in as much work on their game as he does, which in turn makes the team better. He could be called a "lock-down defender" because of his ability to stop the opponent's best scorers. There is no limit on his potential.
Weaknesses: Barnes is a great half-court player but needs to continue to get better on the fastbreak. Finishing with his left hand needs to be worked on also as it's not where it needs to be. He was once an inside player so playing the wing is fairly new to him, though he hasn't shown any sign that he won't be able to handle it.
Minnesota could look to take Harrison Barnes with their lottery pick. He doesn't really fit the two areas of need (point guard and center) for the Wolves, but with a top five pick, one of the best players should be selected and that's what Barnes is. Beasley would still be the starting SF but Barnes could get minutes at SG since Wes Johnson has struggled at times this season.
PF Kenneth Faried (Morehead St.)
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Size: 6'8" - 225 lbs
Strengths: Kenneth Faried is a player who does the dirty work, meaning that he is great rebounder, defender, and post player. Faried is a player full of intensity and aggressiveness and will leave it all on the floor. He has large hands which allow him to go up for rebounds and come down with them. He has long arms which help him on the defensive end. His great timing and leaping ability make him a very good shot blocker. His offensive game is quite simple as he works in the post and tries to get to the rim for easy points. This allows him to use most of his energy on defense and rebounding. He has a very good motor and seems like he is never tired. Faried is also one of those players that just create success (he took Morehead State to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1984).
Weaknesses: His size is his biggest detriment. He will definitely be undersized at the power forward position in the NBA. Faried needs to continue to work on his post moves as some are predictable. He doesn't have a ton of refined offensive moves. Faried also isn't a good free-throw shooter, shooting under 60 percent for his college career.
Faried is exactly the type of player the Timberwolves need: a grinder down low who can match up defensively and use his athleticism to block shots and crash the boards. Minnesota is a very good offensive team but they need help on defense. Faried could be had with the Timberwolves' second first-round pick (Memphis').
PF JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
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Size: 6'10" - 221 lbs
Strengths: Johnson's length is possibly his biggest feature on both offense or defense. He uses his athleticism to beat other power forwards guarding him. Shooting the ball from inside or outside is part of his artillery. He's rarely blocked on a jump shot due to his high release point. Johnson has some three-point range, but not a whole lot. He's worked on a hook shot and in the 2010 season it looked like it has come along quite well. Johnson has good touch when he's around the basket. He's great on the fast-break because he runs the floor well and he gets a good jump. He is money at finishing an alley-oop. He's a terrific free throw shooter for a big man, shooting 80 percent from the charity stripe in 2010. Johnson is also a great shot-blocker, averaging over two blocks a game in his last three years of college ball.
Weaknesses: Johnson needs to fill out his frame and become stronger. He's not going to overpower any of the NBA power forwards. He still needs work on his ball-handling skills. While having some three-point range, he needs to work on his consistency from behind the arc.
Johnson will still be available in the middle of the first round, which is where Minnesota has their second pick of the draft. With bench players like Martell Webster and Lazar Hayward, David Kahn will look to upgrade his bench and selecting Johnson would do so.
PF Markieff Morris (Kansas)
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Size: 6'9" - 245 lbs
Strengths: Morris has an NBA-ready body as he's built and wide. He's the type of player who is physical and plays with no fear on the court. Morris is a great rebounder who uses his body size and leaping ability to rebound missed shots. Not only does he pull down rebounds, but he also goes back up for the dunk immediately as he hits the ground. He really made his jump shot a weapon in the 2010 NCAA season, knocking down mid-range and three-point shots (42 percent). Morris looks to be a role player and shows that he will do whatever it takes to win games. His great motor allows him to stay in games longer. His mental and physical toughness may be his best attributes.
Weaknesses: Morris isn't as tall as most teams would like, but he's strong enough to overcome that. Morris doesn't have enough post moves to make him a starter in the NBA, but should allow him to be an energy guy off the bench. He needs a point guard who can find him for easy shots because he can't make his own. He scores most of his points by getting his defender under the rim, which won't be as easy in the NBA as it is in college.
Morris would be a nice choice in the middle of the first round for the Timberwolves. After Anthony Tolliver and Anthony Randolph, their front-court is thin and Morris would add a big body to that rotation. Morris would be a good energy guy off the bench to play defense, get rebounds, and knock down open shots.
PF Trey Thompkins (Georgia)
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Size: 6'10" - 245 lbs
Strengths: Great size for an NBA power forward. Thompkins is an offensive stud in the post with a soft touch on his shots near the rim, especially with his right-handed hook shot. His skill level is high and his post skills are quite polished. Thompkins can face the basket and knock down mid-range shots. He can run the floor and score in transition. He has some range in three point land. He has a high basketball IQ on offense and defense. He's a strong kid who can continue to hit the weight room. Thompkins has the ability to face up his defender one-on-one and dribble his way into creating a shot. Rebounding is definitely a strength. He doesn't get rattled too easily and seems to stay cool in tough situations. Also, he's a decent free throw shooter (73 percent through his college career).
Weaknesses: Thompkins isn't going to wow anyone with his athletic ability. Though he has a big frame and good height, he doesn't jump well. He's not much of a shot-blocker on defense. He needs to cut down on the turnovers and make better decisions with the ball. He's a better half-court player than a fast-break player.
Thompkins would be a really good backup for Kevin Love. They have the same type of skill set and similar size. Off the bench, Thompkins would replace Love with Randolph coming on for Beasley so little is missing on the offensive side of the ball. Kahn may look to Thompkins as his mid-first round pick.
SF/PF Chris Singleton (Florida State)
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Size: 6'9" - 225 lbs
Strengths: Singleton is a defensive menace. He can match up as a one-on-one defender on the opposing teams' best scorer and impede their whole game. He's good at guarding on the perimeter or in the post. Quick feet, swift hands, and good instincts are a big part of Singleton's game. He's very good in transition. He's a decent rebounder and shooter. He's also an underrated passer. Singleton plays with high energy, a great attitude, and is also a leader when on the court.
Weaknesses: Singleton isn't much of an offensive player. He has an inconsistent jump shot and sometimes gets trigger happy with it. He's not a good ball-handler which in turn makes him average off-the-dribble. He's undersized as a power forward but playing small forward would be more beneficial to him as a defender anyway, as he could cover some of the best small forwards in the league quite well (Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, etc).
The Timberwolves have the worst defense in the NBA and additions must be made to help the issue at hand. If the defense is better, Minnesota will definitely win more games next season. Singleton's defensive ability has to be on Kahn's radar and with the T-Wolves' second first-round pick, selecting Singleton would immediately improve the defense and the team altogether.
SF/PF Tristan Thompson (Texas)
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Size: 6'8" - 225 lbs
Strengths: Thompson has a phenomenal wingspan at 7'2". He has a solid frame that could definitely handle more muscle. He's very capable at playing either forward position. He's a great rebounder on both sides of the floor. He makes decisive and strong drives in the lane. Arguably his best offensive trait is his ability to draw contact and still finish at the rim. He can get to the foul line, averaging 7.3 free throw attempts a game. Thompson is a defensive beast and a tough match up for opposing forwards. His long arms allow him to impact passing lanes. He is very good at adjusting opponents shots near the rim. Thompson is one of the legit shot-blockers in the draft, averaging a terrific 2.4 blocks a game.
Weaknesses: Thompson doesn't have a whole lot to his offensive game. He lacks perimeter skills and has an awkward lefty jump shot. As mentioned earlier, he gets to the foul line quite often, but he is a bad free-throw shooter due to his poor shooting mechanics. He has an inconsistent mid-range jump shot. He also needs better ball handling skills to improve as a player.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will have their eye on a player who can help out the defense of their team. Thompson would do just that. He has the athleticism and defensive talent the Timberwolves lack and need. Adding him with their second first-round pick would be quality selection.
SF Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA)
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Size: 6'8" - 188 lbs
Strengths: Honeycutt is versatile enough to play the small forward and shooting guard positions. He has a great wingspan, mainly due to his lengthy arms. For being just 188 lbs, Honeycutt is an exceptional rebounder. He has no fear when he goes up for a rebound against other bigs. His mid-range game is decent, but needs coaching on his mechanics. He's a decent free throw shooter at 70 percent. He's good at slipping off of defenders in the post and finishing at the rim. He has great body control when in the air. Honeycutt can be a very good passer with good vision. He's a terrific defender. His high defensive IQ, long arms, and athleticism make him an absolute nuisance for an offense. He has a competitive drive that makes him want to get better.
Weaknesses: Honeycutt isn't a potent offensive player. He's not great at creating offense when the ball is in his hands. He needs to work on his ball handling skills. Bulking up his body would be a smart move. His jump shot doesn't have a ton of range, but it could be very good if it was more consistent. He's also not selfish enough on the offensive end.
Minnesota may look to draft Honeycutt with their first round pick they gained from Memphis. Honeycutt would add depth to the wing positions and provide a much needed "lock down" defender. Lazar Hayward and Sebastian Telfair won't be back next season so Honeycutt could definitely make an impact in his rookie season. Honeycutt reminds me of a young Tayshaun Prince.
SF Chandler Parsons (Florida)
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Size: 6'10" - 218 lbs
Strengths: Parsons is the ultimate mismatch. He's a 6'10" forward but can play like a point guard running the offense. He's an exceptional passer with good vision, especially around the basket and in the post. When he's on the floor, he makes his teammates play better by giving them good opportunities to score. Parsons has a fundamentally sound jump shot and can score from mid-range to three point land. He's a tall, lanky player but he crashes the glass extremely hard whether it's on a rebound or a put-back dunk. He does a good job at rebounding his own missed shot and quickly putting it back up in the basket. Parsons is the type of player who wants the ball in his hands in clutch situations. He's an adequate defender who can match up with a small forward or shooting guard. He also doesn't foul much which, allowing him to stay in the game longer.
Weaknesses: Parsons is sometimes inconsistent with his jump shot and that can hold him down in terms of scoring numbers. His frame isn't filled out enough to guard bigger power forwards. He has a good stroke on his free throws but, for some reason, isn't a good free throw shooter, making just 56 percent of them last year.
Parsons would be a high energy guy off the bench for the Timberwolves if they were to select him in this years' draft. He would bring good length to the team and the ability to create better shots for teammates. He's also a leader and the Timberwolves need as many of those as they can get.