By: Brian Simonson
The NBA offseason is officially underway, and new Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas continues to fill in those checkboxes on a long list of to-do items before the 2019-2020 season kicks off.
After retaining Ryan Saunders as head coach and filling out the front office staff, the latest checkbox was the NBA draft June 20.
In summary, the moves the Wolves made on draft night:
-Traded the No. 11 overall pick and Dario Saric to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 6 overall pick
-Drafted (by the Suns) Jarrett Culver with the No. 6 overall pick. Due to the moratorium period, this will not be finalized until July 6th.
-Drafted Jaylen Nowell with the 43rd pick in the second round
-Signed C Naz Reid from LSU and G Tyus Battle from Syracuse
-Signed former University of Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy to the Summer League roster
Reviewing the moves
Much to their benefit, the Wolves didn’t have to give up much trading up to No. 6. There were other reported trade discussions involving Robert Covington, which would have been a devastating loss on the defensive end. Instead, they were able to move Saric, who was more than likely going to end up commanding a salary higher than the Wolves would be willing to offer once his current deal expires after next season. Consequently, parting ways with Saric was wise given the risk of him jolting next offseason and receiving nothing in return.
With the No. 6 pick, it was presumed Minnesota was building their backcourt of the future by selecting Darius Garland or Coby White. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Garland with the No. 5 pick, leaving Rosas scrambling to find trade partners for No. 6 as the clock on the pick was winding down.
Finding no suitors, the Wolves ended up using Phoenix’s pick to draft Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver, a sophomore shooting guard from Texas Tech. One of his strengths that will be heavily leveraged with the Wolves is his strong defensive abilities. One of his primary weaknesses is his shooting range, which is expected to improve over time in the NBA.
We’ll have more on “Butterburger” Culver (we have given him this new nickname) throughout the Summer League.
With pick No. 43, Minnesota selected Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaylen Nowell. Nowell was remembered for his success in clutch situations while playing for Washington. Let’s hope that the third time 's a charm when it comes to drafting Syracuse products (see Johnny Flynn and Wesley Johnson).
What it means moving forward
Drafting Culver resulted in a glaring logjam at the wing position for Wolves players currently under contract, which scratched a few heads. This also did not solve anything at the point guard position. With this in mind, we feel that Rosas is not done making moves. There is much speculation that Andrew Wiggins is on the trade market and moving his contract would help eliminate the wing overload and potentially clear enough cap space to facilitate a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn RFA D’Angelo Russell.
Moving Saric means there are currently no power forwards under contract. Robert Covington’s primary position is small forward, but he is expected to move to play some power forward next season in what projects to be a position-less roster. Wiggins, if on the team, may also be asked to play there some. With that said, it's fair to suggest this team could have some rebounding issues next season.
If there’s one thing we know for sure about Gersson Rosas, he is certainly putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to the organization and its fans feeling change is on the horizon. The front office acted in what seemed to be a more proactive manner than displayed in many previous drafts. They seemed well prepared, assertive, confident, and had backup plans in place on draft night.
Personally, I love how Rosas is not settling, doing his research and challenging the status quo on everything within the organization. He is someone who sets out an action plan and executes rather than running his position in a reactive manner. We trust that this is just the beginning of his moves this offseason. His next set of checkboxes to fill are addressing the point guard situation (c’ mon, D’Angelo Russell!), trades and free agency to round out the roster. Like Dan said on draft day, their number one priority needs to be doing everything possible to land Karl-Anthony Towns a star sidekick.
Until then, we’ll see you at the Summer League, which the Wolves should have a fun roster to watch.