NBA Draft: Timberwolves Should Keep Michael Beasley and Draft Derrick Williams

Matt Ryan@Matlanta1989Correspondent IIJune 22, 2011

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after defeating the Duke Blue Devils during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers are all but assured of drafting Kyrie Irving first overall, the spotlight now falls on the Minnesota Timberwolves at the No. 2 spot. Their selection will likely be Arizona forward Derrick Williams.

Williams is the obvious choice to take second overall. He was a one-man wrecking force during this past season with the Wildcats and single-handedly led them to an Elite Eight appearance.

While Irving is seen by many as the consensus top prospect in the 2011 NBA Draft class, the Cavaliers still thought long and hard about taking the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year.

Some would argue that it would be better for the Timberwolves to take Kanter with the No. 2 pick. It would give Minnesota a young center with a lot of potential and allow them to move Kevin Love to power forward.

However, as is the case with Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas, the history of drafting European big men is generally hit or miss.

For every highly regarded prospect like Dirk Nowitzki, there are more players that turn out to be the next Darko Milicic or Kosta Koufos.

Instead of ending with the next great NBA bust, David Kahn should try an "experiment" like the one he had in mind after the 2009 NBA Draft. Only this one is better recipe for success and championship aspirations.

The Timberwolves traded for the Washington Wizards 1st round pick and entered the 2009 NBA Draft with the 5th, 6th, 18th, and 28th overall picks.

This put the team in a great position to draft their back court of the future with prospects like Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio, DeMar Derozan, and Brandon Jennings or get an ideal big man to partner with Kevin Love.

After failing to trade up for the second overall pick to get Hasheem Thabeet (out of the NBA two years later) or Tyreke Evans, the Timberwolves settled on Ricky Rubio at No. 5 and Jonny Flynn at No. 6.

Then the head scratching continued when Kahn also drafted Ty Lawson later in the first round and Nick Calathes in the second round. Both were traded later on that night, but Minnesota still added two point guards with lottery picks to their roster.

David Kahn said he envisioned a dual point guard lineup reminiscent of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. This is far from the case two years later.

Flynn isn't even starting for the Timberwolves anymore and Ricky Rubio just agreed to an NBA contract this month. 

While that plan has failed miserably so far, David Kahn could have more success with a different "experiment." It all starts with drafting Derrick Williams and holding onto Michael Beasley.

One of the biggest question marks surrounding Williams is his tweener status. He played power forward in college, but has already stated his preference to play small forward in the NBA and suit up for Minnesota.

While Derrick Williams has more potential at this stage in their respective careers, this is still no reason for the Timberwolves to dump Michael Beasley.

Beasley made great strides during his first season in Minnesota and is now playing more like somebody who's supposed to be a second overall pick.

Besides, who are Timberwolves going to get instead who is a better player? A trade for a good young center is ideal, but their offers for Andrew Bynum and JaVale McGee aren't going anywhere.

There have been rumors linking Andre Iguodala to Minnesota, but his presence isn't going to help the logjam at forward or is even worth considering trading the second overall pick for.

Although Michael Beasley is 6-10, he certainly plays more like a three in the NBA. However, having such an athletic power forward in a starting lineup with 6-9 Derrick Williams beside him is going to be a defensive nightmare for the other 29 teams in the league.

Not to mention easy assist opportunities for Rubio, who will likely start at point guard during his rookie season.

Also, the team has 6-7 Wesley Johnson at shooting guard, someone who will improve going in to his second season.

Beasley, Williams, and Johnson have already worked out together in Los Angeles, which may be a sign of things to come.

This past season Kevin Love became the first player to average 20 points and 15 rebounds since Moses Malone during the 1982-1983 season.

Love was also the NBA’s most improved player this past season and is now one of the best rebounders in the league. He is far from an elite shot blocker, but can be the ideal defensive anchor for a team with an up-tempo offense.

Another intriguing young player on Minnesota’s roster is 6-10 forward Anthony Randolph.  He has bounced around the league during the past year, but is still an intriguing player.

Randolph is a big-time scorer, but can also make big plays on defense.

Like Kevin Love, he is a tweener between the center and power forward position.

At times the Timberwolves could use a starting lineup with Kevin Love and Anthony Randolph at those positions, Williams or Beasley at the three, and their backcourt of Rubio and Johnson.

Or bench Wesley Johnson and have Michael Beasley at shooting guard occasionally. The latter would arguably be the toughest lineup to guard in the NBA.

This Minnesota team would not be renowned for their defense, but would certainly entertain the crowd at the Target Center.


C: Kevin Love / Anthony Randolph / Darko Milicic

PF: Michael Beasley / Anthony Randolph / Nikola Pekovic

SF: Derrick Williams / Michael Beasley

SG: Wesley Johnson / Martell Webster

PG: Ricky Rubio / Jonny Flynn


This is far from an orthodox lineup, but is certainly one with a lot of potential for success. The Timberwolves are far from championship contention, but this a step towards the right direction.

After the 2007 NBA Draft, some criticized the Seattle Supersonics for drafting small forwards Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

Four years later with the team now called the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant is an NBA superstar and Green was traded to the Boston Celtics as part of a deal for center Kendrick Perkins.

Jeff Green is far from a bust, but is nowhere near an All-Star level. The Thunder slowly began to win games with an unorthodox lineup.

The addition of Perkins, allowed them to start Serge Ibaka at power forward, giving Oklahoma City more of a traditional lineup for a team contending for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Before David Kahn and the Minnesota Timberwolves can even think about winning a title, they need to go after the best players available in the draft, even if their lineup could resemble something from NBA 2K11.

No matter how crazy this experiment is, Derrick Williams is the best player Minnesota can take with the second overall selection and it's still in their best interest to keep Michael Beasley.


For more 2011 NBA draft coverage, stay tuned to Bleacher Report for updated NBA mock drafts, B/R's Big Board of RecruitsNBA draft rumors, NBA draft results and draft grades.


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