By: Cal Colbert
It's crazy to think that the 2017 NBA Draft is still 30-plus hours away considering the ridiculous amount of trade rumors swirling the web and more completed trades than I would have ever expected at this time. This truly is both a fun and frustrating time of the off-season for NBA fans everywhere. We see some of our favorite players leave in trades or free agency, but we also see new stars, young talent, and veterans added to the roster of our favorite teams.
Concerning the Wolves, there have recently been talks about two big-name players coming to Minnesota.
The first being forward Andre Iguodala. The sixth man of the year candidate is a free agent this off-season and is coming off a season where he just won his second ring with the Golden State Warriors. Recently in an article written by Shams Charania of the Vertical it was reported that many teams are looking to try and land Iguodala on their roster this offseason. Minnesota is one of the teams linked to wanting Iguodala.
Iguodala, in my opinion, would be a great addition to this Wolves roster. Depending on what Tom Thibodeau wants to do with him, Iguodala would be a multi-tool off the bench. Not only is he a great defender with a very high basketball IQ, his veteran presence and great leadership would be extremely beneficial for this young and inexperienced Wolves team.
Iguodala could potentially sign a contract up to $20 million a year this offseason. As much as I would love to have Iguodala on this team, I don't think I would be willing to pay him 20 million a year. The most that I would be willing to pay for Iguodala is 15-17 million a year. Iguodala is 33 years old already and I wouldn’t want to lock him into too big of a contract. Especially because we have seen him struggle with some lingering injuries the last two seasons.
The other potential player we could bring in through trade is Jimmy Butler. Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted on Monday that Minnesota has assets and interest in trading for Jimmy Butler. I'm assuming a trade would probably look something like Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the Wolves' seventh overall pick from this upcoming draft for Butler. The Wolves would certainly miss LaVine, but I would love this trade knowing Butler would make an immediate impact on the Wolves in every way.
The seventh year wing out of Marquette is one of the best two-way guards in the NBA. He brings a veteran presence, he has playoff experience, and was a apart of four winning seasons with Thibs in Chicago. This trade just makes sense for the Wolves. They have so much young talent already and are in need some sort of veteran leadership on this roster. Butler consistently brings a much-needed defensive presence to a team that desperately lacks any semblance of defensive discipline.
Of the two options, I would be all in for the Jimmy Butler trade. The Wolves are a team full of young potential and hopefully future stars, but also in dire need of a veteran leader and someone who brings a little of everything to the team. I think we can all agree that Butler brings more than just a little of everything if he was to join the Wolves, even more than a great glue-guy like Andre Iguodala.
If Tom Thibodeau can manage to bring Jimmy Butler to Minnesota - without giving up Andrew Wiggins (and obviously Karl-Anthony Towns) - both sides will be in a great position to be successful.
6/15/2017 0 Comments
By: Dan Slaubaugh
It may not seem like it because of the incredibly modest amount of information leaked from the Wolves front office, but the NBA Draft is now officially one week away.
All is quiet in the Wolves camp for now. With Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden electing to keep everything in house, fans are left guessing with what the Wolves front office will do with the seventh overall pick. This is noticeably different from the Flip Saunders era, where inside information continually leaked to the media. Flip loved to leak information to keep front offices around the league guessing. He was great with the media and genuinely enjoyed chatting in front of cameras. He knew he had a job to do and they did as well.
Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden are vastly different. They don't care to have a good relationship with the media. They are incredibly tight-lipped, making life tough for the Darren Wolfson's (KSTP, 1500 ESPN) and other journalists who are having difficulty obtaining even small nuggets and information about the Wolves' draft preferences. Fans want to hear what is going on behind those closed doors.
Last year at this time, it seemed logical to suggest Tom Thibodeau would select Jamal Murray out of Kentucky or Buddy Hield out of Oklahoma. There wasn't one consensus player that all Wolves fans seemed to love like this year's Jonathan Isaac, but fans agreed that the team was in need of shooting off the bench.
Then, on draft night, Adam Silver walked to the podium and announced Kris Dunn (PG, Providence) as the Wolves' 5th overall selection. The majority of Wolves fans were confused and bewildered on the pick (turns out they were right to question the pick) as Ricky Rubio appeared to be stepping into his prime, coming off a successful 5th season in Minnesota. The pick generated more questions than answers for a franchise that hadn't made the playoffs in 12 years.
Looking back, I don't think it was silly for us to be surprised by Thibodeau's selection considering it was his first pick as Wolves President of Basketball Operations. We could hardly look at his Chicago days and draw any conclusions, especially considering he wasn't even the one calling the shots. It would be a shame if he did indeed use the same criteria GarPax employed in Chicago, taking into consideration at how dreadful they were at drafting in Thibodeau's time in the Windy City. Since 2010, the only player that has turned out to have a successful career after being drafted by the Bulls is Jimmy Butler.
That being said - and because of such little draft history from Thibodeau calling the shots - we need to have a different approach from last year heading into draft night next Thursday. We shouldn't "expect" Thibodeau to select a player who's favorably looked upon in the Wolves community. If we take that approach, we could easily be heavily disappointed after talking ourselves into a prospect only to wind up with someone else on draft day.
With high-upside prospects such as Jonathan Isaac, Malik Monk, Lauri Markkanen, and Dennis Smith Jr. potentially available at 7, there are a plethora of options the Wolves could go on draft night. Combine that with the chance they trade down or trade the pick entirely, fans are left almost completely guessing what Tom Thibodeau has in mind for draft night.
There are not a lot of known's for what the Wolves do next Thursday, but one thing appears as we inch closer to the NBA Draft: Tom Thibodeau doesn't seem to have any intention of hinting at who the Wolves next draft pick might be.
By: Jonah Sprinkel
Before I begin with the real reason for this writing, I want to give a shout out to the NBA Draft Lottery. Some consider the event to be one of the more exciting and dramatic events in sports. I fall in that camp. Regardless of what happens, viewers are left on the edge of their seats waiting for the commercials to pass them by before the NBA Commissioner takes the stand. In what feels like a blink of an eye, 14 teams find out where they stand in the NBA Draft. Even before the viewers have finished blinking, NBA GM’s, coaches, scouts, journalists and of course, arm chair GM’s, have begun dissecting the draft and what their respective teams should do with their lottery pick. I’m not here to tell you who the Wolves should draft. Rather, Tom Thibodeau needs to fix the Timberwolves draft woes and find some of the missing pieces in the draft.
To say that the Timberwolves have a solid history of drafting, developing and retaining quality NBA players would be a blatant lie. Most Wolves fans will remember the likes of Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, and Derrick Williams. This list continues with names like Rashad McCants, Ndudi Ebi, William Avery and Paul Grant. For a multitude of reasons, these players, as well as others, did not create an NBA career with the Timberwolves.
Tom Thibodeau now has a full year under year his belt as the Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. Just as the Wolves have done with the new logo; it is now time to reinvent and usher in a new era of drafting NBA players. As I said above, bad luck, poor decision making, and sheer dumb luck have played a role in the Timberwolves past draft success. All the negative associations need to remain in the past while simply being remembered as a dark time in Wolves lore. No longer can these “what if” stories follow the team.
Since the 2007 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves have drafted 31 players. Only four of those players are still with the team. Three of those four, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Kris Dunn have been taken in the previous three years while Rubio is the only player drafted pre-2013 who remains with the Wolves. I should note that the Wolves did find excellent by essentially drafting Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad in 2013 though league records will show those two arrived in Minnesota via trade. No matter how you cut it, the Wolves track record of poor drafting remains. Many of these players are no longer on NBA rosters.
Obviously, Rubio, LaVine and Towns are great success stories for the Wolves. Dunn seems like he will be as well but that has yet to be fully realized. In terms of draft value, Town’s was absolutely worth the #1 overall pick. His current production level is far and away above the expectations of a player drafted first. Pre-ACL tear, Zach LaVine is also a player who outperformed his 13th overall draft slot. Some may argue that Rubio failed to meet expectations but that’s not necessarily true. Rubio has been a franchise mainstay and a remarkable on-court contributor in this organization throughout multiple tumultuous eras. That alone almost makes him worth the 5th pick.
The ultimate example of draft value is Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. Most NBA fans know his story. Leonard, an MVP finalist, was the 15th pick in the 2011 draft whose game has grown to match the size of his hands. Kawhi is a testament to the Spurs organization and culture. Coming out of San Diego State, Leonard was a bit of a project player who could hopefully contribute to an NBA team one day. Through patience, player development, and smart coaching Kawhi has vastly outperformed the expectations set on his shoulders. While I do not expect Thibodeau to draft the next robotic NBA superstar or to replicate the Spurs organization, I do expect him to find value in the draft and develop said value.
Thibodeau, and the rest of the Wolves organization, need to play close attention to every available prospect. They must look for the guy that has been overlooked by others or needs time to realize his potential. The organizations that monitor the details and invest time and money into players are the teams that end up near the top. Of course, there are other ways to build a championship team and we are seeing that play out with both Cleveland and Golden State. Realistically, the Timberwolves will never be either those teams in terms of how they were built. If the Wolves hope to one day compete for a championship a lot of this work must be done organically. Finding draft gems is not the end all, be all for a team. However, it is a symptom of successful teams.
The Timberwolves are quickly approaching a time where a huge chunk of their cap space will be eaten up by Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and hopefully Zach LaVine. And rightly so, those three have formed a “Big 3” that seems poised to take the league by storm if they can figure out how to play defense. However, the Wolves already have a hard-enough time bringing in free agent talent. When the big contracts hit the books, it will become increasingly harder to bring in quality players. This is where contract and draft value will matter the most.
Think about it this way. Per Spotrac, this past season KAT made $5.9 million in player salary. Next year, KAT will make $6.2 million while the following season he will make $7.8 million. Over the course of the 2016-17 season KAT posted 12.6 win shares, 7th most in the league. This puts him in the same class as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. KAT is currently contributing in a way that is equivalent to a player who makes over $25 million a season. Essentially, the Timberwolves are receiving $25 million worth of production for a fraction of the cost.
What Thibodeau should begin looking for in his draft picks is production. NBA level production. They’re looking for guys who can provide $12-$17 million in on court production for $4-$6 million a year. The rookie scale can be the Wolves best friend if they play their cards right.
By: OTP Staff
With July's NBA Draft quickly approaching, free agency looming, and the final revealings of the Wolves' rebrand on its way, we thought this would be a great time to open up the question gates to the people.
You guys asked, now it's our turn to answer.
Q: How crucial is this offseason to the future if the Wolves want to be a Finals caliber team in the next five years? - @realmnsportsfan
Dan: I think we can all agree no matter what they choose to do the team needs to post a winning record and make the playoffs next year. That being said, this is the last offseason the Wolves will have money to spend with the Wiggins, LaVine, and Towns extensions looming. A heavy portion of the Wolves payroll will be absorbed by the core players, probably Gorgui Dieng, and whoever we sign in free agency this offseason. Because of that, it is of vital importance that Thibodeau nails these free agent signings. If he can, this team - led by a legitimate franchise player in Karl-Anthony Towns - will be well-positioned to make plenty of deep playoff runs over the course of the next decade.
Q: Do you think Derrick Rose will be a perfect fit for the Wolves? If so, what will happen to Ricky? - @jjbgenson
Jonah: I hate to be the bearer of bad news in this situation. But Derrick Rose is in no way a perfect fit for the Wolves. After seemingly endless knee surgeries, it would be extremely hard for me to place any trust in Rose playing 70+ games as a full-time starter for a team with playoff inspirations. Let's not forget that during a Knicks game in which Rose was supposed to start, Rose WENT MISSING AND FLEW TO CHICAGO WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE. Those are two Shaq-sized red flags.
For those of you screaming at your computer about Rubio's inability to stay healthy, let me remind you that Rubio has played in 151 of a possible 164 games over the last two years. Rose has played in 130. With how close the Western Conference playoff race will be next year, I personally want as many games as possible out of my starting point guard.
Q: I believe wiggy has improved his ppg by three each year. You think he can improve it another three next year? - @APK3vikes
Zach: Andrew Wiggins has had a steady increase in the points per game category since entering the league. His rookie year, he averaged 16.9ppg, 2nd year, 20.7ppg, and last year 23.6ppg. If Wiggins increases his points per game by three points next year, he would be at 26.6 which would have ranked 9th best in the NBA this past season. I do believe Wiggins will improve his ppg again, but I don't think it will be by a full three points. I see Wiggins as a 25ppg scorer. The bigger things for the Wolves and Wiggins will be increasing his efficiency. If he can shoot at a higher perentage from three-point range and the free throw line, I will be extremely happy with those numbers.
Q: Will KAT finally be in the All-Star game next season, or better yet, an All-NBA team? - @jjbgenson
Cal: To answer this question with one word I would say, “yes”. If you compare KAT’s stats to his peers at the Center and Power Forward positions that made the All-Star Game or made an All-NBA team, you could easily see that he deserves to be in the discussion. The chart below compares the 2016-2017 season stats.
Without a doubt you can see that KAT has the stats to be in the All-Star Game AND make an All-NBA team. Let's not disregard the fact that KAT, at the spry young age of 21, was the FIRST AND ONLY player to ever score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds, and make 100 threes in a single season. That is mind blowing. To be honest, I don't know how he didn't make either team this year.
However, in regards to the All-Star Game, we do have to account for the fact that it is a popularity contest. Steph Curry started over Russell Westbrook in the All-Star Game this year, and Russ averaged a triple-double. So, in other words, make sure you go out and vote next year for our fellow young pups to participate in All-Star weekend.
Q: Who is the biggest star that we could potentially sign? - @rossknowsbest
Dan: If my calculations are correct, there are about seven potential stars that could hit the free agent market. To name them: Kevin Durant (PO), Stephen Curry (UFA), Gordon Hayward (PO), Blake Griffin (PO), Chris Paul (PO), Kyle Lowry (UFA), and Paul Millsap (PO, but has told Atlanta that he won't exercise his option for 2017-18). There are also a few players I would consider fringe-NBA stars such as Jrue Holiday, Serge Ibaka, and Dwayne Wade, but there certainly not in the same tier as the top seven.
Out of the players named above, Paul Millsap suggests as the most realistic (yet still very unrealistic) star we could potentially sign. He'd be a perfect fit beside Towns, he's a plus defensive player, and he can score from just about anywhere on the court. It's a dream, unlikely scenario.
Q: Who's the last great mean bully on the #Twolves - I say Gary Trent. IMO we need one on this team to Draymond role - maybe OG Anuoby? - @MaruggiAlbert
Jonah: The mention of Gary Trent is wonderful. Some of these Timberwolves hidden gems go forgotten due to lack of team success. How many new era fans remember Chauncey Billups in a Timberwolves uniform? Does LaPhonso Ellis ring a bell? And of course, Malik Sealy. All that aside, I believe you've forgotten the ultimate Timberwolves bully; Kevin Garnett.
Q: When will the new uniforms be revealed? - @NP_3201
Dan: The Wolves haven't released a date yet. One thing that is for sure, they're going to milk this rebrand as much as possible over the summer. As a result, the new uniforms, court design, and arena remodel will probably be released at different times.
Q: Are their new uniforms going to be nice? - @NBAGeneralist
Jonah: I wish I could give you a straightforward answer on this one. If I'm being frank, I have some trepidation about the jerseys. First off, I'm not head over heels in love with the new logo. However, I am a big fan of the new color scheme. I hope that the primary and secondary colors of the new jerseys will feature the navy blue and grey. The neon green should only be used as an accent, similar to the wolf eye and basketball on the new logo. If the team decides to use neon green as a featured color on the jerseys, this could get ugly fast.
This seems contradictory but I am all in on 100% neon green Christmas Day jerseys. By blinding your opponent, you create an easy path to the basket. Now that I think about it, the Wolves should only wear neon green just for a competitive advantage. Shoes, socks, athletic tights, jerseys, and maybe we can convince Andrew Wiggins to dye his cornrows to match.
Q: Aside from winning, what's the most important thing the Wolves organization can do to get butts in seats at home games? - @WestBankTank
Zach: As you touched in your question, winning is easily the best way to get people to start attending games. This past season, the Wolves were 29th in the NBA with an average attendance for home games of 14,809. This needs to improve, and the Wolves are finally pushing the right buttons to help. The Target Center renovation is a huge step in the right direction. The updated look, seats, concourses, etc. will help get more out of your average fans at the game just to help rejuvenate the fan base. The new jerseys, court design, and all-around new look will help get people excited about Wolves basketball again. Other than that, it really comes down to putting good basketball on the court. Whether this is signing a big name free agent or just player development, team success will drive attendance numbers.
Q: If the Wolves decide to trade the 7th pick, who would we target with that pick? - @schnydetheglide
Cal: My fellow writers and I all agree that the Wolves need shooting and a starting power forward because Gorgui seems better suited to a bench role.
I have two trade scenarios and I personally would be happy with either.
#1 - 7th overall pick and Tyus Jones for Derrick Favors. The only problem with this trade would be that Favors is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017-18 season. I also have a soft spot for the Minnesota native (Tyus Stones).
#2 - 7th overall pick to Denver for Garry Harris. He would quickly boost the Wolves three-point shooting and greatly improve the much-needed bench scoring.