By: Dan Slaubaugh
Two years ago, the Cavaliers pulled off a miracle coming back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals to bring the city of Cleveland their first championship in 52 years.
The Warriors were able to get revenge this year, winning their second title in three years against the Cavs in five games. With how incredibly talented the Warriors are, it's going to take a miracle to take them down in a seven game series likely until the year 2020.
For the Wolves to eventually be able to compete with top-tier teams like Golden State and Cleveland (or the other 27 teams when Golden State starts to regress), they must find value in the NBA Draft. In Flip Saunders' tenure in Minnesota, he was able to find great values in Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad (via trade for Trey Burke), Andrew Wiggins (via trade with, well, you know), Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Last year we saw Tom Thibodeau call the shots for the first time as President of Basketball Operations for Minnesota. He chose Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick, a selection that raised many questions at the time and continues to do so almost a year later.
There are a plethora of options the Wolves could go tonight. They could draft a prospect, trade down in the draft, or trade the pick entirely. This leaves fans completely guessing for what Tom Thibodeau has in store, setting up a very intriguing and exciting night in Brooklyn.
The members of the On The Prowl staff got together to discuss what Thibs' strategy should be and also predicted the outcome of the draft's lottery selections.
(Some answers may be more complex than others)
Where will you be watching the draft tonight?
Dan: At my apartment in Fargo, ND probably watching by myself simply because I feel awful inviting friends over only to be refreshing Twitter every three seconds for news/rumors (AKA Woj Bombs) the entire night.
Zach: I unfortunately will not be able to watch the draft. I will be umpiring baseball games, but will have everything recorded so I can come back and watch all the excitement through.
Jonah: I’ll be watching from home.
Cal: I will be at home watching the draft with my roommate. You may know him, @sprinkeljonah.
What do you want the Wolves to do with the 7th overall pick?
Dan: Jonathan Isaac, baby. The combo-forward from Florida State is the perfect short and long-term fit for Minnesota. The versatile big blocked 2.3 shots per 40 minutes, showed he can switch out and guard the perimeter, shot 59.3 percent inside the arc, and rarely turned the ball over. Isaac will be a project and probably won't be the deciding factor in getting this team closer to the playoffs next year. Thing is, were not drafting him for his production next season. We're drafting him for what he could potentially bring to the table three years from now, a two-way player with great ability to defend PnR's (a fantastic skill in today's pace-and-space NBA) in this league.
Zach: Trade the pick for a starting caliber player or a top bench player.
Jonah: In an ideal and perfect Timberwolves world (boy, do I wish this existed) the Wolves come away from the draft with Jonathan Isaac from Florida State. Not only would he bring defensive ability, athleticism and a promising shooting touch, he also adds great hair to an already solid cast of Wolves hairstyles.
Cal: Trade Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the seventh overall pick to the Bulls for Jimmy G Buckets.
Dan: JIMMY BUTLER WELCOME TO MINNESOTA. Nah, I doubt this happens. But it has been reported by The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski that the Wolves have assets and interest and trading for Jimmy Butler. A trade would probably involve a few (or all) of Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the seventh overall pick. Before you close your browser after what I'm going to say next, hear me out. I would pull the trigger on this deal. Zach LaVine is my favorite player in the entire league, but when you have the chance to land a top 15 player with more than one year on his contract (without giving up Wiggins or Towns), you do it.
Zach: Draft Jonathan Isaac out of Florida State.
Jonah: When it comes to the first option for this pick, trading for Jimmy Butler is probably the obvious answer to most Wolves fans. In an alternate universe, I might agree with you. In this alternate reality, it’s also possible to travel by tubes and the Wolves have won six straight titles so maybe we should just figure out how to move between dimensions instead? Sadly, our beloved Timberwolves exist in this reality where the otherworldly Golden State Warriors also exist. Let me present you with a scenario.
The year is 2019. The Warriors are on track for a threepeat and their fourth ring in five years. Both Kevin Durant and Steph Curry will be 31 years old while Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will be 29. The Timberwolves are a competitive playoff team led by Karl-Anthony Towns age 23, Andrew Wiggins age 24, and Jimmy Butler age 30. Do you believe that this Wolves squad is capable of matching that Golden State team?
Cal: Draft Jonathan Isaac out of Florida State.
Dan: Trade down. If I'm Tom Thibodeau and Jonathan Isaac is off the board at number seven, I'm looking to trade down and acquire Gonzaga big man Zach Collins. The former Bulldog profiles as a solid jump shooter in addition to a solid rim protector and rebounder. The Wolves don't need anyone to play 35 minutes and be the next great star in Minnesota, but a quality 28-30 minutes per game in a complementary role would be fantastic value in a loaded NBA Draft. If Tom Thibodeau believes Collins can provide that two/three years from now, he may take a chance and trade back.
Zach: Draft Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona.
Jonah: If Jonathan Isaac is not available, the wisest move would be to draft the best available player. Lauri Markkanen, Dennis Smith, Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, whoever it may be. A lack of “fit” does not negate a player’s value. Maybe one of those guys evolves into a high quality starter. Or, another team values said player so much that they make a deal to acquire him. Crazy things happen in the NBA, we’ve all seen it. And as we saw this year in the NBA Finals, the team with the most talent usually has a good shot at bringing home the Larry O’Brien.
Cal: Draft Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona.
Prediction of the Wolves' pick
Dan: Jonathan Isaac, Florida State.
Zach: Wolves trade down by drafting a player at number seven that a team lower wants. Trade results in Zach Collins + another asset to the Wolves.
Jonah: Jonathan Isaac, Florida State.
Cal: I think the Wolves will end up drafting Isaac if he is still available. If Isaac isn't on the board when we are on the clock, I think we will draft the best player available.
Bold Prediction of the Night
Dan: I tweeted this yesterday, and call me crazy, but the Wolves trade Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and whoever they draft seventh overall to Chicago for Jimmy Butler. This is merely a bold prediction and I've had like 15 bowls of Lucky Charms since Monday morning, so I don't blame you if you can't take me seriously.
Zach: Jimmy Butler gets traded to the Boston Celtics. (Is this considered bold?)
Jonah: Phil Jackson has seen the future and moves Kristaps Porzingis in exchange for the Lakers #2 pick. Lonzo Ball is forced to run the triangle while LaVar screams madly from the sidelines of Madison Square Garden ala Spike Lee.
Cal: Same as my homie Dan.
(From left: Dan Slaubaugh, Zach More, Jonah Sprinkel, Cal Colbert)
Thanks for reading, basketball fans. Enjoy the draft and be sure to follow OTP on Twitter (@OnTheProwl_MN) for extensive coverage on all news and analysis surrounding Thursday night's NBA Draft.