Saturday, June 14, 2008

Timberwolves Draft Mental Bifurcation

Now that the NBA Finals are all but over, thanks to Kevin Garnett (we miss you, KG. No WE DON'T.) we can now turn our attention to the NBA Draft. And as I have stated in some comments to my own posts, I'm of at least two minds here.

Without getting into specifics (beyond, for the love of God, no Kevin Love!), the Wolves are at a crossroads with this draft, with a #3 pick in a draft with two players, with the Heat saying maybe they don't want one of those top 2 guys. That would make it simple.

If the Heat pass on Michael Beasley, the Wolves take him. End of discussion. Happiness reigns as they trade up using their two 2nd round picks to get a Robin Lopez or some other young 7 footer whose only job it is to make room for Beasley and Jefferson. Yay!

But that won't happen, probably. Hence the issue.

There are two schools of thought here, and unfortunately, in this draft, at the #3 pick, it becomes a bit of a Venn diagram, with a lot of overlap. Out of the Starting Five for the Timberwolves, only one guy has earned his position, and that's Al Jefferson. He's a Power Forward. The Wolves played him at center at times, to his detriment, but he did OK at that role (but it can't be his role going forward, yeah?). Every other starter is replaceable, but young. The backcourt of Foye/McCants? Either one replaceable for a better player. Small forward? Brewer/Gomes/That Guy They Got From the Rockets for Gerald Green. Center? The Timberwolves don't have a center. Every position is open, EXCEPT power forward.

Which makes the Kevin Love rumor so grating and so improbable. What can a 6' 8", overweight white boy do that Al Jefferson, all of 3 years older than the presumed rookie not do? What can Kevin Love do that Al Jefferson not do. No, Timberwolves, Kevin Love will not do at all. That's a not starter, I hope.

What it comes to, and what I'm bifurcated mentally about is the eternal question--draft for need, or draft best player. If the Wolves go best player, as they probably should, given their starting line-up, then it seems like it has to be OJ Mayo (a 2 guard who can shoot) or Bayless (a point who can run the offense). If they pretend that they are drafting for need, than they go center, and take Brook Lopez.

Which I would be totally against, but in this one instance, drafting a true 7 footer to take pressure off Jefferson, and keep him at his natural position but be at once drafting for need, and retroactively drafting for the best player in the draft. Getting even a clunky, awkward big man could help Jefferson push his game to All-Star quality. And if he gets that good, and starts drawing double teams--maybe the backcourt tandem of Foye/McCants/Jaric/Telfair gets better.

With a quality young starter at every position, maybe the Timberwolves are no longer that place where KG once played.

Or maybe they draft OJ Mayo, and trade McCants for a 4th round pick, and take Robin Lopez in the 2nd round. They still get their big uncoordinated 7 footer, they pick up a draft pick, and they snag OJ Mayo, who will actually hit the shot when Al Jefferson is double teamed in the post.

The Timberwolves won't be threatening for the West Conference title any time soon, but they could maybe win 10 or 15 more games next year, if they make the right pick. I only wish I knew what the right pick was.

Wrong Pick? Kevin Love.

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