With the 2011 NBA Draft finally happening tonight, it gives us a chance to reflect on all that has happened in Timberwolves Nation over the past few weeks. If nothing else, we can say it has been an exciting time to be a Wolves fan.
The obvious No. 1 story line from the past week: Ricky Rubio’s arrival in the Twin Cities.
Wolves fans all over are feeling overjoyed about the long-awaited arrival of Rubio earlier this week. The 20-year-old Spanish point guard showed poise, humility and a sense of humor during his introductory press conference this week, making the T’Wolves faithful even more hopeful that Rubio is ready to take the reigns of the team.
He was self-deprecating about his lack of English, he joked about not wanting his family to visit the Mall of America for fear that they would buy everything in sight, and he even responded to a critical interview question by KFAN’s Dan Berreiro by eloquently quoting Magic Johnson. He even endured the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman and his barely discernible, awkward babbling.
Overall, Ricky handled himself masterfully in his introductory press conference, endearing himself even more to the fans and media here.
Here is video from that conference for those who missed it:
We also learned yesterday that the Timberwolves plan to fire head coach Kurt Rambis, news that many fans are rejoicing over as well.
Though the news hasn’t been made official at the time of this article, Yahoo Sports is reporting that Minnesota will be searching for a new coach following tonight’s draft.
And while it is perhaps unwise on GM David Kahn’s part to again be participating in a draft without the input of a head coach (the last time he did that, we ended up with Jonny Flynn), many people are just happy that Rambis and his point guard-killing Triangle Offense are gone.
University of Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, former Timberwolf Sam Mitchell and current Wolves assistant JB Bickerstaff are among the current rumored candidates to succeed Rambis. Other names are sure to follow in the coming days.
Finally, the NBA Draft is in a few hours, and it’s been difficult to navigate through the myriad of trade rumors leading up to tonight. Players like Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, JaVale McGee, Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat, DeMar Derozan and Andrew Bogut have all been rumored to be possible options in a trade for the Wolves’ No. 2 overall pick tonight.
But up until now, it appears as though none of those deals have been done. Reportedly, many teams are said to be “frustrated” by trying to deal with the Wolves, as Kahn is apparently playing hard-ball with the No. 2 pick, and rightfully so.
Personally, unless a deal for No. 2 heavily favors Minnesota, I’d rather keep the pick, draft Arizona’s Derrick Williams and sort out the log jam at the 3/4 spots later. Depth is not a bad thing, people.
Obviously, we will know more by the end of the night tonight.
I’ll end with my updated mock draft. Here’s how I see the night playing out (Multiple sources are reporting a three-way trade between Milwaukee, Charlotte and Sacramento: Bucks get Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih and 19, Bobcats get Corey Maggette & 7, Kings get John Salmons & 10):
1. Cleveland – PG Kyrie Irving
2. Minnesota – PF/SF Derrick Williams
3. Utah – PG Brandon Knight
4. Cleveland – C Jonas Valanciunas
5. Toronto – SF Kawhi Leonard
6. Washington – SF Jan Vesley
7. Charlotte (Sources say they’ve traded with Sacramento) – Enes Kanter
8. Detroit – PF Tristan Thompson
9. Charlotte – C/PF Bismack Biyombo
10. Sacramento (via Milwaukee) – PG Jimmer Fredette
11. Golden State – SG Klay Thompson
12. Utah – PG Kemba Walker
13. Phoenix – PF Markieff Morris
14. Houston – SF Chris Singleton
15. Indiana – SG Marshon Brooks
16. Philadelphia – C Nikola Vucevic
17. New York – SG Alec Burks
18. Washington – SF Marcus Morris
19. Milwaukee – (via Charlotte) SF Jordan Hamilton
20. Minnesota (via Memphis) – PG Iman Shumpert
21. Portland – PF Kenneth Faried
22. Denver – PF Tobias Harris
23. Houston (via Orlando) – PF Donatas Motiejunas
24. Oklahoma City – SF Kyle Singler
25. Boston – PG Reggie Jackson
26. Dallas – SF Jimmy Butler
27. New Jersey – SF Nikola Mirotic
28. Chicago (via Miami) – PF Justin Harper
29. San Antonio – SF Tyler Honeycutt
30. Chicago – PG Nolan Smith