Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wolves draft

So if you haven't been paying attention to the NBA draft lottery, the Wolves just got the third overall pick, so we got a little lucky. If the draft were held based on record alone, we'd be drafting at number 5.

That's the good news.

The bad news? There are 2 great players in this draft, Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley. We will not be getting either of them. Rose is a lightning-quick athletic PG from Memphis, while Beasley projects as a bruising combo with a shooting touch. These are the consensus top two picks. There is no third player to swoon over.

Likely options: Brook Lopez, a plodding 7'0" C from Stanford. O.J. Mayo, a much-touted freshman SG from USC who hasn't quite lived up to unrealistic expectations placed upon him. Jerryd Bayless, a PG/SG from Arizona. Eric Gordon from Indiana, Gallinari from Italy. Lots of potential in those players, but no idea who will be the best. If we get the #1 or #2 pick, the choice is made for us, but not here.

This is pretty typical of the Timberwolves luck. I'm just old enough to remember when I started really following the Wolves. The 1992 draft was similar to this - two can't-miss prospects (Shaq and Alonzo Mourning), then...? We picked third and took Christian Laettner. The next picks ended up being Jim Jackson, LaPhonso Ellis, and Tom Gugliotta (who later had a couple good seasons with the Wolves). Nothing to write home about.

1993 draft - 4 great prospects, Wolves draft 5th. We can't have Webber, Shawn Bradley, Penny Hardaway, or Jamal Mashburn. We get J.R. Rider. We passed on Bobby Hurley (who I remember wanting), Vin Baker, and Calbert Cheaney, so it's not like we could've done much better. Hardaway and Mashburn had great talent but were cut down by injuries. Bradley made a career of being dunked over at 7'6" (but at least stayed on the court). Rider, of course, was notorious for his insane athleticism, winning the dunk contest with the East Bay Funk Dunk, missing practices, oversleeping, and being generally loathed by Wolves fans.

1994 draft - 3 great prospects, Wolves draft 4th. Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd, and Grant Hill are off the board, leaving us with Donyell Marshall. He was probably the right pick, considering the next guys were Sharone Wright, Lamond Murray, and Juwan Howard.

Of course, in 1995 everything changed. There were 5 guys who for the most part, could have gone anywhere. We picked 5th. Joe Smith, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, and Jerry Stackhouse all are drafted. We take Kevin Garnett. Yes. Awesome. Had we stuck with Wolves luck and drafted 6th, we could have had Bryant Reeves, Damon Stoudamire, Shawn Respert, or Ed O' Bannon. YES.

In a few years, Garnett led us out of the lottery and into the playoffs. In 1996, the Wolves get Steph Marbury by trading current Celtic Ray Allen for him. Oh what could have been...

I'm pretty sure the above isn't all revisionist history, but I was young at the time.

This year, the Wolves will be in a tough spot, open to be criticized no matter who the pick is. While there's no obvious #3 pick, this draft is very deep as a whole, and there are going to be players who end up better than our pick. Right now I'm leaning towards Brook Lopez, who would allow Al Jefferson to play his natural position of PF. On the other hand, a good PG like Bayless could ope up opportunities for our other scorers and keep teams from double-teaming Jefferson every trip down the court.

Enough on this, time to watch some Celts-Pistons!

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