Thoughts on the NBA Draft? Towns, Tyus, biggest steal of draft, etc.
Jonah Steinmayer (Howlin' T Wolf): I was awfully pleased with how the draft turned out, mostly because the Wolves didn't find a way to screw it up. With the top pick it was kind of un-screwable in the first place, but I always had the feeling in the back of my mind they would somehow. In the end the Wolves ended up with arguably the best first round of any team because they left with a cornerstone player and a serviceable backup at point. But I'd be remiss not to mention that I'm completely jealous of the Miami Heat, who landed Justise Winslow with the tenth overall pick. I had him pegged in the top-5. Lucky them.
Dan Slaubaugh (On The Prowl): I mean, what more can you ask for in Flip Saunders as President of Basketball Operations? Towns is the perfect fit for this young and rising Wolves squad. He can run the floor, stretch the floor, bang down low, and he is a really sharp dude. With Tyus, you put butts in the seats, while snagging a pg with a very high basketball IQ that has the potential to be a very serviceable backup pg. Flip scored an A+ on this one. Biggest steal, Justise Winslow. Dude could've easily went top 5.
Zachary Bennett (HP Basketball Network): I think the consensus is in agreement that the Wolves made the *correct* choice by selecting Karl Anthony-Towns with the No. 1 overall pick. And, of course, Tyus Jones was the proverbial cherry on top of everything, although, you could argue the Wolves could have acquired a better prospect at that juncture in the draft, too. Moreover, apparently Flip Saunders received calls inquiring about Gorgui Dieng’s availability; I would have liked to see what those offers were, if any were actually made, but, alas. Regardless of whether Anthony-Towns and Jones become serviceable players, draft night was pretty memorable night, and the Wolves fanbase needed that -- for obvious reasons.
Beau Paulsen (On The Prowl): One word came to mind when watching the draft..excitement. Even though most people had pegged Towns as the pick, we all didn't know for sure what Flip can or will do. So we watched with excitement as Towns' name was called and watched as excitement as the rumors swirled in about jones. Will Tyus become an effective pg? Hard to tell but it was exciting none the less.
Drew Mahowald (Dunking With Wolves): So far, it appears that the Timberwolves had a pretty successful NBA Draft. I mean, it's not too difficult when you can grab Karl-Anthony Towns first overall. That kid is going to be a really special player and important piece to the Wolves' future success. As for Tyus Jones, I don't mind the pick at all. I feel like his ceiling is a solid backup point guard, which could be useful for the Wolves in a couple of years. All in all, tough to be upset about the acquisitions the Wolves made in the NBA Draft.
Zach More (On The Prowl): The draft went exactly the way many Wolves fans were hoping. I am extremely happy with Towns as the number one pick. He may not put up the offensive numbers that Okafor will immediately, but he can help in more aspects of the game than Okafor and is exactly the type of player the wolves need. Regarding Tyus, I don’t think I am as excited about him as many. I think he will be a good backup guard in time but he will need to get there by being smart and a facilitator. His defense is what scares me the most. The biggest steal of the draft in my mind was the Heat getting Justice Winslow, in my mind a top 5 talent at number 10.
Out of all Flip Saunders did to the Wolves roster this offseason, which move are you most excited about?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): Drafting Karl Anthony-Towns is by the far the most exciting move. He not only fills a huge void of a defensive post presence and shot-blocker right away but Towns gives the Wolves a number two guy to build around. Everyone knows it takes a Big Three to make it anywhere in the NBA, so, hey, we're almost there!
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): The obvious choice is Towns, but just for the fun of it, I'm gonna go with Nemanja Bjelica, who has the ability to make an impact as soon as he steps on the floor for the first time in his NBA career. He will give the Wolves much needed perimeter shooting and will open up the floor for guards Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, and Zach Lavine to attack the basket. The potential for Rubio-Bjelica P&R's is very exciting with Rubio's passing ability and Bjelica's great instinct to score the basketball. I predict Bjelica becomes the primary backup PF as the season rolls along.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): This is a difficult question but I’ll go back to draft night. Moving back into the first round to grab Tyus Jones was big for obvious reasons; the Wolves addressed a need and didn’t sell any second round picks. No assets went to waste. Also: The Chase Budinger deal, depending on what we see from Damjan Rudez, could end up being a sneaky-good trade but it is too hard to tell with what we know right now.
Beau Paulsen (OTP): I personally am excited to see how Towns grows as the year and growing pains go on. Also, to see how much Wiggins and Lavine can improve with a (hopefully) healthy Rubio.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): The move Flip Saunders made that I'm most excited about is simply drafting Towns. He gives the Wolves an intimidating presence defensively in the paint while also providing a versatile offensive game. He'll fit in very nicely with the young corps of talent on the roster.
Zach More (OTP): Besides the obvious KAT excitement, I am most excited to see how Nemanja Bjelica translates to the NBA. His size plus shooting ability could really be a weapon off the bench for the Wolves immediately. A poor man’s Dirk? I don’t know. But if he has anywhere near the effect on the game, it was worth the wait.
How much of a fan are you of the Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince signings?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): It's not the players or the games themselves that I'm happy with; rather two veterans provide the Wolves with just that: Veteran leadership. Paired Kevin Garnett, the Wolves now have three players at 35-plus years old with years of experience. That kind of leadership will prove to be invaluable in a few years when the young players learn how to get over losing and better understand what it takes to close the tight games down the stretch.
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): Out of a 10, I would say 6. Once the season starts to progress, I will have a better answer for this question. The big question is how many minutes they will take away from the young pups. I'm not going to be particular about Tayshaun taking any minutes away from Shabazz, and that's that. However, there is no doubt in my mind they will be great influences on this very young, talented team, and if they can help us win basketball games, awesome.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): I don’t hate them, I guess. Andre Miller isn’t a good defender at this point in his career. He’s just not. As long as he throws enough alley-oops and doesn’t need to play 20-30 minutes a game, I’ll warm up to it, especially if the story about Miller walking to games/practices while with the Washington Wizards is true. As for the latter, Tayshaun Prince, I’ve joked that people are going to buy jerseys simply because they will say Prince on the back, but he is still a serviceable player. As promising as Shabazz Muhammad seems to be, he may still have off nights; Wiggins probably shouldn’t play as many minutes this season and so having a savvy to spell these guys is valuable. I’ll say this much: Prince is an upgrade over Budinger, and I don’t think it’s close.
Beau Paulsen (OTP): When I heard about the Miller and Prince signings I knew it was about off court guidance with some on court leadership sprinkled in. Those signings were about helping the young pups grow into the Wolves we all hope they become and I'm ok with that.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): I'm all for singing veteran guys to act as mentors, which is what Flip did with Miller and Prince. However, I'm a fan of Lorenzo Brown, and I thought his summer league performance earned him a roster spot. With Prince, I just hope he doesn't take big minutes away from Shabazz Muhammad at the small forward position. Muhammad could be a really good weapon for the Wolves off the bench, but he won't be able to progress if he doesn't see increased minutes from last season (when he was healthy).
Zach More (OTP): I am okay with both signings. If they are still able to play at a high level they can play, if not they can help in practice and from the bench. The wolves didn’t break the bank to sign either. I think the Miller signing will have more of an impact early in the season as he will be ahead of Tyus Jones on the depth chart.
How long do you think Flip Saunders should coach?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): Personally, I don't think Flip Saunders should be coaching in the first place. The problem is there's no clear successor at the moment. So because there's no real way of removing himself as coach without his own handpicked successor, I believe it's a shoe-in that he coaches this season and is forced to make a tough decision on a coach next offseason.
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): It's no secret he didn't have much to work with last season with a depleted roster filled with 10-day contracts and a mix of 1st and 2nd year players. Therefore, it's hard to make a judgement on how much of a positive impact he can have coaching this team. Flip gets criticized because of the old style offense he brings to the table, which lacks the 3 point shot. However, he is great at developing individual players, which was seen last season with Wiggins, Lavine, and Bazz. In conclusion, I believe Flip should coach one more year, as it's possible MIN could sneak into the playoffs in 2017 with a slightly weakened Western Conference, and by then I'd like to see someone else holding down the head coaching position.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): People knock Flip a lot, but he’s done an above average job as the President of Basketball Operations. As I wrote a few months ago, there’s reason to believe Wiggins and LaVine improved under his tutelage. I don’t think Flip coaching is hindering the Wolves from success they would otherwise achieve...at least not yet. Ask me this question next summer and I may have a different opinion.
Beau Paulsen (OTP): I think Flip should coach this year and make sure he finds the right guy to continue the process of helping the Wolves grow. I stress RIGHT coach because the wrong coach with the wrong personality or patience might delay or even set back the rebuilding process.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): That is a tricky question, because Flip is a coach that's really good at developing players individually. Take last season, for example. Despite finishing with the worst record in the NBA, we saw Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, and Shabazz Muhammad take big strides in their development. I think once this team becomes a legitimate contender for the playoffs (probably in two or three years), that's when Flip should step down.
Zach More (OTP): If it was up to me Flip would no longer be the head coach of the wolves. I hope this is his last season as these players get to work 2 seasons under him. With a young team I would like to see a younger head coach with a “new school” attitude.
What grade do you give the Wolves offseason?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): Draft = A (Love Towns and Jones). Free agency = B (Miller, Prince provide that leadership, but they didn't grab a real difference maker. Not important but still a factor.) Trades - C (More about the trade they've yet or already failed to make: Anthony Bennett). Therefore, If I had to average it out as a whole, I'd give them a B.
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): I'll give it a B+. I personally believe the signing of Nemanja Bjelica will be one of the best under-the-radar moves of the offseason. I believe he'll fit well with Towns in the frontcourt when both are in. I wasn't the fondest of the Miller and Prince signings, even though the veteran presence they bring will be valuable. Overall, when you add a cornerstone player (Towns) to go along with Wiggins, snag Minnesota's own Tyus Jones, and bring over Bjelica, it adds up to be a very, very solid offseason for the Wolves.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): The Minnesota Timberwolves obligatory offseason grade: A-. I truly think Lorenzo Brown can be a serviceable backup point guard in this league. If he doesn’t crack the final roster, the Andre Miller signing becomes that much more questionable to me. However, until I see the influence Miller has on the locker room and younger players, it’s unfair for me to be upset about it.
Beau Paulsen (OTP): I give the Wolves a B+ for this offseason. Would have to liked to see Bennett moved but I understand why he hasn't been so far.The Wolves didn't screw anything up this offseason and that deserves praise enough.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): I'll grade the Wolves' offseason as a B. Flip did what he had to do in the draft, there's no doubt about that. The Miller and Prince signings bring the grade down a tad for me. Again, I'm all for veteran leadership on the team, but I think there was enough of that between Kevin Garnett, Kevin Martin, and maybe just one of either Miller or Prince. Both of them seems a bit unnecessary.
Zach More (OTP): B+. Short and Sweet.
What team had the best offseason?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): I'll go with the Spurs. Everyone's been waiting for the summer they roll over and die; Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli retire, Tony Parker's magic officially runs dry and their talent pipeline putters out from too many late first round picks. Well, not this year. They shocked the world and signed LaMarcus Aldridge, re-signed Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, and positioned themselves for yet another 50-plus win season.
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): The team that no one is talking about, the Miami Heat. Pat Riley continued his brilliancy as President and GM by staying course with his plan and not deciding to blow up the roster and start rebuilding. They re-signed D-Wade for 1yr/$20mil, re-signed talented point guard Goran Dragic. Luol Deng is back. Amar'e Stoudemire, a very solid role player, was brought in. They also got very lucky in the draft snagging Duke forward Justise Winslow, who was considered a top 5 prospect in many NBA Draft boards, falling all the way down to #10. If Bosh can come back healthy, a team consisting of Bosh, Wade, Dragic, Deng, Chalmers, Winslow, and Hassan Whiteside, could compete for an EC Finals Championship.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): LeBron James. C’mon, the dude is gettin’ his friends -- and Kevin Love -- massive paychecks.
Beau Paulsen (OTP): The easy answer to this is the Spurs. Yes, the Warriors kept their core but the Spurs again find away to keep themselves in title contention by resigning Kawhi and than signing Aldridge. Hell, they got David west to sign for waaaay less than he could have gotten next season.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): The San Antonio Spurs won the offseason, in my opinion. They were able to get the biggest prize in free agency in LaMarcus Aldridge. Also, Kawhi Leonard re-signed on a max deal. Not to mention the return of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli for another season. Indeed, the Spurs will be a scary team this upcoming season.
Zach More (OTP): Miami Heat
What team had the worst offseason?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): Definitely have to go with the Kings. I hated everything they did, even the Rajon Rondo signing. But it's also what they couldn't do that made them losers. It seemed as if they went after every top and middle tier guy only to get walked out on in the end, even to a team with less money. Clearly not all is well in Sacramento and players are seeing the cracks widen.
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): A team that is carried by its starting core, the Portland Trailblazers, lost 4 out of their 5 starters this offseason through trade and free agency. They shipped Batum to Charlotte for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh, and lost Robin Lopez, Wes Matthews, and LaMarcus Aldridge all in free agency. Those 4 combined to score 46% of Portland's points last year (also 8,554 minutes) that will have to be filled with scraps and pieces. The team will now rest solely on Damian Lillard's shoulders and will probably have to lean towards rebuilding with the lack of talent on their roster.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): The Sacramento Kings, I think, which pains me to say. We don’t know how the Rajon Rondo thing will work. There’s been all this drama between DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl, although that’s slowly being mended, allegedly. They traded Nik Stauskas one year after a crowdsourcing project determined he was the pick for them, which is weird. I’m certainly going to watch the Kings a lot this season because play-by-play voice Grant Napear is one of the best in business, in my opinion -- I feel for him at this point.
Beau Paulsen (OTP): The worst offseason award goes to Real World Sacramento. They traded more than they should have to cut cap and still didn't get the guys they wanted. How long this dysfunctional marriage lasts who knows. I do know I'll have my popcorn ready.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): The Dallas Mavericks had an absolutely terrible offseason. Tyson Chandler, monta Ellis, Rajon Rondo, Amar'e Stoudemire and Al-Farouq Aminu are all gone. The Mavs just barely missed out on the DeAndrew Jordan sweepstakes, and that debacle was just a huge letdown for this team. Moreover, the team overpaid for Wesley Matthews, an injury-prone wingman. It's really a shame for Dirk Nowitzki, as his team will really struggle this season after being a contender for so many years before.
Zach More (OTP): LA Clippers (just don’t like the personalities/ mix of players they brought on to that team.
What free agency signing will make the biggest impact on his team?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): Wolves fans might hate this answer, but I think Kevin Love is poised to become a big time player for Cleveland this coming season. With Kyrie Irving out until January, the Cavaliers need someone else to step up. And whether it was the poolside meeting with LeBron or another offseason of getting in shape, I have confidence that Love is going to return to his 2013-2014 form.
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): Who else? LeBron James. Without Lebron, Cleveland would be nothing. Love wouldn't have been traded there, and they'd still be in rebuilding mode with Kyrie leading the reigns of the team. Lebron single-handedly brought Cleveland within 2 games of an NBA Championship last season against Golden State. Now, he is hoping to have the whole squad healthy for another Finals run.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): Mo Williams. The dude can still get buckets and as we saw in the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers need another guy who can get buckets. (Disclaimer: I love chuckers.)
Beau Paulsen (OTP): LeBron is the easy answer because, well, we all saw the finals. However, the pelicans Resigning Optimus Prime...I mean Anthony Davis, was the best move a team could make for its future. The Pelicans front office just needs to be smart and put the right pieces around Davis. With the talent he has it shouldn't be too hard.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): I think the Bulls being able to grab Fred Hoiberg as head coach will prove to make a huge positive impact for them. Hoiberg's offensive-minded style could help the Bulls finally keep up with the scoring of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and maybe, just maybe, beat them in a playoff series next spring.
Zach More (OTP): LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs
Best under-the-radar move of the offseason?
Jonah Steinmayer (HTW): Mo Williams to the Cavaliers is a monumental move with the Irving news. They just swooped up a wily veteran, who can still play and especially shoot the 3-ball, and that's just for $2.4 million over two season. That's a steal.
Dan Slaubaugh (OTP): The Spurs not only made one of the biggest signings of the offseason, with the signing of LaMarcus Aldridge, they also made the sneakiest, smartest sign of the offseason. David West. The Spurs convinced West to play for the veterans minimum even though he averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. That's a bargain. He will provide the Spurs will automatic mid-range shooting and his tenacious effort on the boards. West will be part of a loaded frontcourt with Duncan, Aldridge, and Boris Diaw. San Antonio is set up to be scary good.
Zachary Bennett (HPBN): I’m not sure it’s entirely under-the-radar but Monta Ellis going to Indiana is a move not really being discussed. He and George Hill should make for a decent backcourt. Ellis will almost certainly make life easier for Paul George, on the offensive end, anyway. If the Pacers can address what seems to be a shortage of bigs, they could be a sneaky team out East.
Beau Paulsen (OTP): The Spurs signing David West isn't that shocking in itself. It's the price at which they got him. He still has the grittiness and mid range game perfect for coming off the bench or to fill in for Duncan when he needs a game off. Also perfect for the postseason.
Drew Mahowald (DWW): DeMarre Carroll signing with the Raptors could be a huge move for Toronto. Carroll's versatility and ability to be rock solid on both ends of the floor could help the Raptors take the next step to contending in the Eastern Conference.
Zach More (OTP): Mo Williams - Cleveland Cavaliers
That's all folks. Hope you enjoyed! Look our for our preseason preview-predictions roundtable come training camp!