After struggling the entire season over which of the only three "locks" I see in this year's upcoming draft, provided they all declare—Kentucky's Jon Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and Ohio State's Evan Turner—I decided about three weeks ago that for the good of the franchise as who is the best fit, that player should be Ohio State's G/F Evan Turner.
Big Ten Player of the Year aside, he is the best player that fits our offense. As a fan watching the Wolves lose 14 of their past 15, its painfully obvious what the team and David Kahn are trying to do and that is unoffically tank since that's illegal, in order to get the best player possible.
Kahn knows it does no good to win 20-25 games each year only to just miss out on the best players and end up picking fifth through seventh as the Wolves historically have done. He's seen the Wolves never move up in the draft—heck they've only drafted third once (Laettner and that's their highest pick) and fourth once (Donyell Marshall) and how did those work out?
He sees this as an opportunity to build his team truly from scratch and in order to do that he needs his players in what Wolves fans are discovering is a fast paced run-and-gun system that will (hopefully although I'll believe it when I see it) be run by Ricky Rubio.
Turner, as a do-it-all combo guard F/G would compliment Rubio nicely in a dynamic and athletic backcourt. He's proven this year that both last year and an earlier back injury were neither no fluke, nor enough to stop him. He seems to be the real deal and whoever gets him will be lucky to have him and better off because of it.
I don't need the entire ESPN panel from Jay Williams to Digger Phelps calling him the player of the year as they did on March 3 SportsCenter to realize this. He doesn't need to hit a game winner against a Michigan team that already beat the Gophers twice. He's a leader and a winner and one the Wolves base would quickly embrace as a complement to Kevin Love as well.
Wolves fans like me, appear to be getting comfortable with the idea of Turner in a Wolves jersey next year and when you are as bad as them (14-52 entering today) you deserve a break like him, not to mention one that has never come by way of the lottery.
They've correctly noted that each team in their division, the Northwest rivals: Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder (everyone's favorite now that they are winning), and Portland Trail Blazers all have one legit star.
Denver has the overrated Carmelo Anthony that will never win anything beyond his current accomplishments without even more help that he already has. This team seems to always be one player short, but given their history, I think they'll take it knowing they at least have a shot. That's more than Wolves fans can say.
Utah has Deron Williams. Oklahoma has the stud Kevin Durant (AKA Duranchula) and got damn lucky that my predicted bust Russell Westbrook's college game actually translated to the NBA—who knew?
Portland has former Wolf for a day-Brandon Roy and potential-in-waiting Greg Oden.
Minnesota has Love, possibly Rubio, and a good shot at either Wall, Turner, or Cousins as they have been locked in at the second worst record for what seems like months now. Is this their time?
While this draft is deep, and with up to three first round picks this could be the year the Wolves have a Thunder-like turnaround, but I still see only three locks that any Wolves fan can and should be happy with.
If they win the lottery they can and likely would take phenom Jon Wall. I wouldn't. I'd trade the rights to New Jersey who can take him then in exchange for the second pick and Brook Lopez as some Wolves fans have suggested on the same ESPN messageboards.
Hey, if you want to get something, Wall-you have to give something and if this Wall is the real deal, don't worry Nets fans, about a stud like the 19-11 ppg-rpg Lopez. It would be the Wolves first true center and a great young one at that.
Why would and should the Wolves hang on to Wall if they honestly believe Rubio is coming over? If they want to play the game of holding both Flynn and Wall for a year and have the loser shipped out of town, why not trade Jonny now and I'm a Flynn fan?
I mean, we all know that is what would happen, they risk alientaing him and at 13.6 ppg and 4.4 apg although his ppg is declining, its still better than Kevin Garnett's 10.4 ppg his rookie season in 1995-96 don't forget that Wolves fans.
Now this isn't a Flynn defense article but at one time he was fourth in scoring among rookies, that mixed with running a complicated triange offense and not the fun and gun shoot first that Stephen Curry is torching in Golden State, should say something. Did I mention he's only 20 years old? I'd keep him as the sixth man at worst. The kid can play he just needs more time, experience and talent around him that Turner or Cousins would provide.
Finally, if the Wolves get Wall, while people would understand the logic based on the talent, they'd also be laughed at again this year for only drafting point guards. It would become a running joke no pun intended. I can hear Bilas or Tim Legler now. Again, because it would force my boy Flynn out the door sooner than later, I'd be against it, especially when you can trade the pick and get more (Turner).
Cousins is intriguing only because he's proven as a freshmen to be the real deal. He's consistent (15.5 PPG 10.2 RPG) and that's what counts. Love him or hate him, I choose the latter, he looks like he'd be a pick we could all be happy with. More importantly though, he would also allow the Wolves to trade Jefferson who would play the same position for more help that they obviously desperately need.
Only his attitude which might alientate the youthful Wolves should they continue losing under him, and he subsequently pout, would be a detriment. Other than that, if it happens, make it so.
Unlike the first two, Cousins and Wall, Turner fits the system the best. Imagine:
Not only that, but by going to Ohio State he's also a big Ten product which will help with his new regional fan base and again if he wants to stay when it contract is up.
Finally, last year was phase one of Kahn's plan. To find out what kind of talent he has, (found out it wasn't much) and begin to replace it. Last year was the point guard draft. This year should be the shooting guard and big man assembling draft. Next year will be the draft of filling in the pieces.
Yes, I personally, do think of these things years in advance even before a player plays a single game for us. He'd be the most identifiable, the most comfortable, and the most fan friendly in his transition to the NBA. I just don't think we can go wrong on any of the three but he's clearly the best.
So what's the alternative?
Should the Wolves fall to four or fifth which is the lowest they can fall as I understand it currently, they would be wise to take either Kansas' Xavier Henry who I see as a 3b meaning I'd be happy with him or Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors who I am not sold on and who could be the first bust of the 2010 draft.
This is exactly the kind of bad luck that has plagued the Wolves their entire existence-just missing out on the real difference makers like Turner. Of course, with the Wolves luck (or lack thereof) we'll be selling or is it fooling? orselves on how Derrick Favors will prove me and others wrong and how getting five is somehow a good thing.
Henry at 13.6 ppg and 4.2 rpg is basically another Flynn in terms of numbers but since he's primarly in SG he fits from a need basis.
Additionally, since he plays in a power conference, on an excellent team, against legit competition I'd be more inclined to support his numbers transitioning to the NBA. Finally, he is only a freshmen which could be Will Avery II or an asset depending on how you value youth.
A team this young needs leaders that the Junior, Turner provides, which it all comes back to.
Cole Aldrich at 13?
In a perfect world, Minnesota would find a way to bring proven winner and local product Cole Aldrich back home at No. 13 as it is now, even if it mean moving back up into the lottery. Again, he's proven it at a premier school, in a legit conference against quality opponents.
Aldrich, however, isn't expected to last nearly that long, so a classic Kahn move may be necessary here-stay tuned.
Whatever the Wolves do, they simply cannot mess this one up. When you are this bad you have to hit a home run or be lost in the improving Northwest division forever.
Kahn told us for a year to be patient and he's lucky the dwindling base has zero expectations or pressure. He told us that we are young and the losing will come but he's not about to make a McHale Mistake and be only good enough to win 40-45 games and lose in the first round of the playoffs each year.
If we as fans stick together and stick this out, we can be the ones who will both know, and will be able to claim we saw it through when the bandwagon fills, whenever that is. Turner and the cap money could be the beginning of that change.
Minnesota fans would be wise to take notes on this kid today. He could be wearing our jersey this fall with any luck.