The day is finally here. After waiting an extra five months, the 2020 NBA Draft is upon us, and the Minnesota Timberwolves control all the action. Trade the pick? Keep the pick? It’s all on the table. Here are my final thoughts, hours out from the action.
The two clear options with this pick are to trade down, or keep the pick. Everything swirling around the NBA world makes it seem like Anthony Edwards will be the pick if Minnesota doesn’t trade down. At this point, everyone probably knows how I feel about that. Even though I prefer Ball, Edwards is the clearer fit and at this point, I think there’s a greater than 70% chance he’s with Minnesota at the end of the night.
In terms of a trade, the Wolves seem to be trying to create a bidding war for the top pick. It’s clear that Charlotte has interest in moving up to presumably grab Wiseman. It was also reported today that the Chicago Bulls have looked into moving up. Ideally, the Wolves are able to move down from #1 to #3 or #4 and still get their guy. Now, if the team has one guy much higher on their board compared to the next, it might not be worth it. However, I think Rosas’ long term vision of eventually acquiring another star would make him comfortable trading down for more assets. Plus, if he was set on one guy, would there be this much chatter surrounding the top pick? I don’t think so, even for a very active front office.
To allow myself to more easily swallow the Anthony Edwards pick, I would love for Minnesota to trade down two spots. Also, let me make it clear that I don’t hate Edwards as a prospect. I think he can have a bright future in the NBA. I have major questions about if he loves the game of basketball and if he wants to truly be great at the next level. In my opinion, there is no question that LaMelo Ball loves the game. His character questions are blown out of proportion, and the notion that he doesn’t fit into the “culture” in Minnesota is absurd. Take a look at what one of LaMelo Ball’s former teammates in Australia had to say about him defensively and willingness to learn:
“Defensively, with all of the concepts and schemes you’re dealing with at a professional level, he did struggle at the start. But Flinny did a lot of work with him, looking at film and learning how to work within a defensive system. He definitely improved a lot while he was here, and part of that was just being a lot more conscious of it. He really impressed me with how much of a fast learner he was. His ability to pick things up on the fly and then apply them in games was tremendous. I can’t even imagine how much better he’ll get when he has unlimited NBA resources at his disposal.”
Read the full article from Ball’s teammates in Australia here.
Perhaps just as intriguing as the top pick tonight is what the Timberwolves will look to do in the middle of the first round. There has been a lot of trade talk surrounding this pick, with Minnesota aggressively pursuing packaging it with another asset to move back into the top-10. Reportedly, the Wolves have strong interest in Obi Toppin, Tyrese Haliburton, Isaac Okoro, and Kira Lewis Jr., all who figure to be gone by the time Minnesota is scheduled to select at #17.
Toppin would be an awesome fit in Minnesota… offensively. The problem is defensively, where Toppin and Towns would be a miserable fit together. I get the intrigue, and I would argue Toppin is a top-2 player in this class if defense wasn’t in the picture, but unfortunately, it is. As for the other guys the Wolves have shown interest in if they have a pick in the 5-10 range, I’m out on Isaac Okoro. He has a lot of questions offensively, and I think he seems too similar to Jarrett Culver as a prospect coming out of college for me to get intrigued. He’s 18th on my board. I like the potential fit with Haliburton, and I think he would be great as a fit next to Russell. I’m disappointed that Devin Vassell’s name hasn’t been linked to Minnesota more often. I have him 3rd on my board, and I think he has the potential to be a top 3-and-D player in the league, with upside to grow into an All-Star. In my opinion, he’s perfect next to D’Angelo Russell, so I’ve been let down that his name hasn’t come up.
Best/Worst Case Scenario:
Since it doesn’t look like my LaMelo Ball dream will be coming true, I think the Wolves need to do whatever it takes to try and move down from one and gain some extra assets. If Edwards is their guy, and they feel like they can’t risk losing him, then fine, but it doesn’t sound like they think of Edwards that way. There is so much chatter surrounding the top pick that one could argue they don’t love anyone. So, a move down to three, getting Miles Bridges and maybe a future protected first would make me more comfortable taking Edwards.
I will also be following whether or not the Wolves address the power forward spot next to KAT tonight. Can they swing for the fences and get a deal for Aaron Gordon done? That would be atop my list as long as the compensation isn’t out of the world. Do they move down and grab Toppin or Okongwu? I’m higher on Okongwu than James Wiseman, and the minor foot injury doesn’t scare me, so I would love that. The main story seems to be on what the Wolves will do at the top, and there are a lot of guards and wings they are linked to. I think it will be interesting to see if they see any long term fits next to Towns.
As for the worst case scenario, I’m going to say standing pat at every pick. Again, this is probably the most likely outcome because of how difficult it is to pull off trades in the NBA. I think the Wolves need to get creative, and they have the picks and control of the board to come out of this as clear winners. If we aren’t talking about the Wolves as a clear winner at the end of the night, something went wrong.
One final ask if Edwards is the pick at #1 and no trades happen: Cole Anthony at #17. Enjoy the night Wolves fans, it should be a fun one.