It is a sound that Minnesota Timberwolves fans have become all too familiar with. Randy Foye. Rashad McCants. Corey Brewer. Wesley Johnson. All of them are shooting guards drafted in the lottery by the Timberwolves that did not pan out. Once again, this team enters the draft with a blaring hole at 2-guard.
This past season, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic injected a sense of optimism and excitement into Target Center that has been noticeably absent since Kevin Garnett shipped up to Boston. Last season’s second overall pick, Derrick Williams, showed flashes of brilliance and has committed himself to cutting more weight this offseason in hopes of taking over at small forward.
The team was starting to make some serious noise, and at one point sat at 21-19 in sole possession of the 8th seed in the west. Shortly thereafter, the season fell apart in cohesion with Ricky Rubio’s ACL.
With the 18th pick in the draft on Thursday, barring a trade, Minnesota would be wise to infuse the team with a young athletic shooter that can create his own shot from time to time. It looks to be the last thing this team needs to contend. They do have options, as this is a very deep draft. With a number of trade-worthy assets on the team, and possible multiple first rounders next year, David Kahn may look to trade up and take a player he covets. This team has cap room, and options are aplenty. Assuming Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal is gone, the T-wolves will still have an enviable group to choose from.
1) Austin Rivers – Duke
The well documented freshman led the Blue Devils in scoring while shooting a respectable 36% from downtown. Although he may be slightly undersized at 6’4″, he makes up for it with superb basketball instincts and confidence. While he has an offensive skill set that translates to being a prolific scorer at the next level, it is unknown how he would be able to handle not being the primary scoring option. Much of his offense comes from having the ball in his hands and creating on his own, however he claims that is just what he needed to do at Duke, and can play within an offense just fine. How he would fit in next to Rubio is questionable. Projected to go in the lottery, he does have the potential to fall to Minnesota.
2) Jeremy Lamb – UConn
Mock drafts have the 6’6″ guard creeping up the boards, so the Timberwolves would be fortunate to see him there at 18. Arguably the most dynamic perimeter scorer in the draft, Lamb took over for Kemba Walker at UConn this past season as the team’s primary option, and did not disappoint. He had very solid shooting percentages across the board at 48% overall, 34% from three, and 81% at the line. With a freakish 6’11″ wingspan, he has arguably the most long term potential of any shooting guard in the draft. NBA scouts doubt his leadership skills, as he did not show the killer instinct many thought they would see out of him this past season. Regardless, his upside and all around offensive ability would be a welcome addition to Minnesota.
3) Terrence Ross – Washington
Ross is a super athletic 6’7″ guard who lit up the Pac-12 with his shooting ability and prowess around the rim. He has terrific defensive instincts from his uncanny ball denial to his weak-side shot blocking ability. Offensively, he has an enormous amount of confidence, with a tendency to take and make big shots. Ross projects as a tremendously capable complementary piece at the NBA level. While his superstar potential remains questionable, he should be able to seamlessly slide right into a lineup and produce. A realistic option at pick number 18, he could very well be the steal of the draft.
4) John Jenkins – Vanderbilt
The junior shot the lights out during his three years in the SEC, knocking down 44% from three-point range while attempting nine a game this past season. His consistency is second to none, making at least two threes in all but one game. His athleticism leaves
much to be desired, but he is what he is, and that is a superior shooter, possibly the best in the draft. Selecting Jenkins at 18 would be considered a bit of a reach, but he would fill a need. With Love, Rubio, and potentially DWill, the stars on this team are in place, and a more than capable outside shooter would fill a pressing need.
5) Doron Lamb – Kentucky
The 6’4″ sophomore played his position in his two years under John Calipari with tremendous efficiency, despite not being the focal point of the offense. He played second fiddle to Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague, yet still managed to make his presence felt as a combo guard. He showed a willingness to step up and make big shots at Kentucky with his very polished shooting stroke at 46% from three this past season. Lamb projects as a mid to late first round pick, and could quickly step in and be a productive player in the league. While proving to be a prominent piece of two final four teams, he showed the capability to be a more than willing defender. It goes without saying that the Timberwolves could use a player like him.
While a big shot blocker off the bench and small forward remain question marks on this team, it was painfully obvious how detrimental it was to the team not having any reliable outside shooters on the wing last year. Luke Ridnour cannot be allowed to play out of position anymore, as he is a defensive liability. A solid shooting guard that can hold his own on defense would allow Rubio to go back to guarding point guards and wreaking havoc on them like we saw in spurts last season. While free agents such as Eric Gordon, Jamal Crawford, and Ray Allen may be available, it would be wise for the Timberwolves to take the cheaper and more effective route of drafting a potential stud in the middle of the first round and putting this team in a position to skyrocket up the standings in the west.
About the Author
Written by Justin Hussong
New Jersey born and raised....Journalism major at the University of Arizona, Bear Down!!