NBA Draft Aftermath: Initial Thoughts

Well that was both interesting and confusing. 

Tonight, David Kahn reminded us all of that nerdy guy in our fantasy football/baseball league that is constantly on the phone trying to wheel ‘n deal, feverishly attempting to make shrewd trade offers to every other manager in the league every other day.  (I may or may not be that guy in my fantasy football league.)

But all joking aside, let’s be real: this was clearly Kahn’s best draft as Timberwolves GM, and it isn’t close.  

He made the correct selection at No. 2, by not trying to get too cute and picking the best player available in forward Derrick Williams out of Arizona.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one closing my eyes and holding my breath as Commissioner Stern was announcing the Wolves’ pick, hoping that he wouldn’t somehow utter the words, “Markieff Morris or Bismack Biyombo.” 

But to Kahn’s credit, when he couldn’t parlay the No. 2 pick into a legitimate veteran star prior to the draft, he held his ground and maximized the value of that pick despite the questions about how Williams would fit the Wolves roster. 

Kahn also turned the No. 20 pick into a bunch of cash, which will presumably be used to help pay for the end of Kurt Rambis (something the majority of Wolves fans cheered for) and a couple of future draft picks.  And he still ended up with UCLA’s Malcolm Lee, a great defensive guard who many experts expected to go in the first round. 

While many fans are miffed at the Wolves for passing on Providence super-scorer Marshon Brooks at No. 20 and again at No. 23, I think that Kahn was justified in passing on him. 

Despite reports that Brooks was killing it in pre-draft workouts, I’m not sure he would fit as well as others may think.  Sure, he scored a boatload of points in college, and he plays a position of perceived need for Minnesota (SG), but he’s also never going to be accused of being very efficient or good at passing. 

At Providence, Brooks played with the ball in his hands the vast majority of the time and basically was given free rein to be a ball hog and shoot whenever he wanted.  He did very little in the way of off-the-ball movement and didn’t show that he was very good without the rock in his hands, which is something that he would absolutely have to do a ton of with Ricky Rubio as his point guard. 

In my opinion, a guy like Wes Johnson is a far better fit at SG on a Rubio-led offense, as long as he can improve his ball-handling and confidence in the offseason.  Let’s not forget, Wes is only coming into his second year, and had a very respectable rookie campaign.  It’s not outside the realm of possibility for him to make a big jump in production next season, especially with Rubio in the mix. 

Here’s the bottom line after tonight: The Timberwolves are adding two very talented players in Rubio and Williams to the roster. 

Now Minnesota’s core consists of All-Star Kevin Love, 20-point scorer Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Johnson, Williams and Rubio.  That’s galaxies better than a few years back, when the Wolves were led by the likes of Ryan Gomes, Rashad McCants, Craig Smith, Randy Foye and Corey Brewer. 

Granted, any one of those core guys not named Rubio could be traded by the time the NBA resumes play (with a potential lockout looming especially), but for now, I think Wolves fans should at least feel like this offseason was a step in a positive direction. 

Heck, I’m even sort of intrigued by the prospect of a (5) Love, (4) Williams, (3) Beasley, (2) Johnson, (1) Rubio lineup.  Would that lineup be absolutely abysmal on the defensive end?  For sure. Would they be seriously lacking in certain areas of the game? You betcha. 

But at least it would be a talented group capable of causing mismatches all over the court with Williams’ quickness and athleticism against opposing 4’s, Beasley’s size against opposing 3’s, Love’s perimeter game against opposing 5’s, Johnson’s outside shooting and Rubio’s ability to get them all the ball in positions to score. 

And while I realize that lineup wouldn’t work against some teams, who knows?  Rubio and Williams are said to be very solid defenders at their respective positions, and Love might actually have better luck guarding plodding centers as opposed to trying to check the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin.  At this point, after two sub-20 win seasons, Wolves fans should be up for anything. 

I guess my point is after tonight, we shouldn’t be ripping David Kahn, not for his decisions tonight anyway. 

I know, we are used to it and really don’t know how else to react to a draft here in Minnesota.  We are so accustom to utter buffoonery out of our team on draft day that it’s a little funny to sit here in mid-June and feel somewhat good about our Wolves’ moves so far this summer.   

But believe it.  Although he didn’t set the world on fire with huge blockbuster deals for the likes of Andrew Bogut or Pau Gasol, Kahn and the rest of the Wolves front office have done something that is unfamiliar to us all: they’ve (so far) managed to put together a constructive and positive offseason.

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