2011 NBA Draft: What the Minnesota Timberwolves Can Do with the No. 2 Pick
Timberwolves fans got some positive news last week when Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio—who was drafted by Minnesota with the fifth pick in the 2008 draft—agreed to play for the Wolves for the 2011-12 season.
By agreeing to a deal with Rubio, the franchise finally has what looks to be a franchise point guard. Despite what people think of Rubio, he has the floor vision of upper echelon floor generals and excellent size at 6'4" with a 6'9" wingspan.
The head coaching position is still uncertain as to whether or not general manager David Kahn will bring Kurt Rambis back.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the team, there are still a few positives.
One I already named is Rubio, whom Wolves fans have waited two years and have had to endure all sorts of speculation on if he'll ever actually don a Minnesota jersey.
Two is Kevin Love. The league's most improved player averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds per game last season as he took his game to the next level. With Love and Rubio, the Wolves can form a deadly pick and roll combination.
Minnesota also has other young talent in Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson. Last year, was both players' first year on the Wolves, and there is room for improvement with each.
With Beasley, he tended to be a ball stopper, and after an ankle injury in January, seemed to lose a lot of effectiveness as an offensive player. It is still unsure if Beasley can be a full-time small forward or a tweener player.
Wes Johnson is a 6'7" leaper who has excellent range on his jump shot and is an above-average defender. Wes tended to be somewhat hesitant in his role in the offense.
With Rubio spreading the floor, he can find open jump shooters such as Johnson and Beasley and Love.
Depth at the Forward Postions
The Timberwolves acquired swingman Martell Webster from Portland last draft night, and Webster seems best suited as a sixth man.
Wes Johnson might not have the dribbling skills or aggressiveness to be a full-time shooting guard, which leaves the Wolves with some options.
Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams are the consensus top-two players in the 2011 NBA draft.
Assuming Irving goes No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, that leaves Williams to the Wolves.
Williams is a 6'9" super athletic forward, that dominated his sophomore season in Arizona and led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.
However, scouts are unsure as to if Williams can be a small forward or power forward in the pros. The Wolves have a glut of players that are already on the team in Williams spot.
Beasley is pretty much the same player as Williams, and the change of scenery on the Wolves seemed to be good for the former No. 2 overall pick. Beasley averaged close to 20 points per game last year, and I don't see why the Wolves would give up on him when he's shown he can be an elite scorer in this league for an unproven rookie.
Johnson can also play the small forward position, and Kevin Love is firmly entrenched as the starting power forward position.
The Wolves also traded for 6'11" Anthony Randolph who can play the 3, 4 or 5-positions. It just doesn't seem like the stars are aligned for Minnesota to end up with Williams.
This week there have been numerous rumors involving teams wanting to trade up with Minnesota in order to draft Williams, and the Wolves could try to use the pick to obtain an established shooting guard such as Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis, Demar DeRozan, etc.
With the Wolves having the possibility of trading down to fill their two needs (center, shooting guard), I believe they will end up trading the No. 2 pick to whatever team puts together the best package.
A possibility is trading the pick straight up for Washington center Javale McGee. McGee is a true seven-footer and can jump out of the gym. He is an elite defensive center and would help cover Love's deficiencies on the defensive end.
In the playoffs, it is seen how much a good defensive center that can block shots and rebound is essential to team success, and hopefully, if McGee was on the Wolves he could turn into Minnesota's version of Tyson Chandler.
Another player that is linked to Minnesota is Turkish forward Enes Kanter. Kanter is intriguing because he is 18, is 6'11" and has potential to be a two-way forward center in the league. The downside is he hasn't played competitive basketball in over a year due to being declared ineligible at Kentucky after it was found he received benefits while playing professional basketball overseas in Turkey.
Kanter is not worth the No. 2 pick in the draft, and it scares me the possibility that David Kahn will once again draft for need over the best player available (see 2010 when the Wolves selected Wes Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins).
If David Kahn truly thinks Kanter is the best fit for the Wolves he needs to trade down possibly with the Cavaliers who also have the No. 4 pick to pick up another asset and then select Kanter.
Another rumored trade between the Cavaliers, Wolves and Pistons would leave the Cavaliers with the first two picks in the draft and the Wolves with the fourth and eighth overall picks.
With these two picks, the Wolves can immediately fill their two gaping holes in the lineup with Colorado shooting guard Alec Burks and try to grab Kanter or grab Congo big man Bismack Biyombo who is an 18-year-old shot-blocking monster.
With Rubio agreeing to a deal with the Wolves, Minnesota is already a winner on draft night in my opinion.
I believe the front office is reluctant to have multiple rookies again and with the No. 2 and No. 20 picks in the draft, it gives Minnesota a ton of flexibility.
Realistically, Derrick Williams does not fit on the Wolves roster, and since he is so highly coveted, I believe the Wolves should trade the pick for a veteran player.
If I was David Kahn, I would trade the No. 2 pick for Andre Iguodala or JaVale McGee—both super athletic players that are elite defenders.
Having athletes around Rubio will allow him to open the floor and space for shooters and find athletes open for easy dunks.
With the 20th pick, I would either package it with a player on the Wolves' roster (Webster or Johnson perhaps) and try to secure another veteran player that will provide leadership and stabilization the roster.
If the Wolves keep the 20th pick, they can aim to grab the best remaining shooting guard or back up big man left on the draft board.