By Ron Jumper
The NBA draft came and went, with the usual mix of trades, reaches, and general head scratching. However, I have to focus on the Minnesota Timberwolves. They had a golden opportunity to stockpile some serious young talent to build around Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Instead, they take two point guards in Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn with the 5th and 6th picks. I’ll also take an early look at the 2010 NBA Draft. So much NBA to discuss, I better get started.
So back to the Timberwolves, it isn’t just what they added in the draft but what they gave up to get those draft picks. Consider they gave up Randy Foye and Mike Miller to draft Ricky Rubio and take on some bad contracts. When you draft Johnny Flynn with the very next pick, is Rubio really worth it? I think not. Then they trade away the 18th pick when B.J. Mullens was sitting right there. Imagine this scenario instead, they take Johnny Flynn at 5, draft DeMar DeRozan at 6, B.J. Mullens at 18, and Sam Young at 28. If that had happened, then you have your backcourt of the future in Flynn and DeRozan and your frontline is set with Jefferson, Love, Mullens, and Young. Throw Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, and Craig Smith into the mix, and that isn’t too bad of a young nucleus to build around.
However, something more critical to look at, is why they traded Randy Foye and Mike Miller in the first place. It seemed so out of the blue. Foye was blossoming into a solid young playmaker. Also, prior to Al Jefferson’s season ending injury, the Timberwolves had been playing over .500 basketball for the last month. They were starting to play decent basketball, actually going 9-2 over one 11 game stretch. Then Jefferson went down and they were miserable the rest of the season as expected. However, the Timberwolves front office should have noticed the improvement and not virtually blown up the roster to start again.
So basically, they did everything wrong. They were making progress and now they have blown up the team to start over. Then, they gave up way too much to get the 5th pick in the draft. After all that, they got very little out of a draft they basically mortgaged their future on. The strange part of all this is that we can’t blame Kevin McHale for any of it. He had nothing to do with it. Here is my theory, upon being hired into the front office, they beat you in the head with a baseball bat until you can no longer either spell your name or recite the alphabet. Once that occurs, the initiation is complete and you become a part of the front office. No, but seriously, what are they doing? I have no idea…
A team unlike the Timberwolves is the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they have a clear, concise plan to building a winning team. Over the last 3 drafts, they have now accumulated the foundation they need at every position. At point guard, there is Russell Westbrook. They just drafted James Harden at shooting guard. Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are the forwards. B.J. Mullens is the center of the future. With time, those five pieces will become the starting five that takes the Thunder to the playoffs. I have to give credit to general manager Sam Presti for building this team the right way.
So it is never too early to take a glance at the 2010 NBA Draft. Here is my early Top 10:
1. PF Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Monroe is a very skilled big man, as he has great instincts and passing ability.
2. PF Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
The best player in the class of 2009 hopes to make an impact.
3. SF Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
Freakish length and athleticism, needs to work on his jumpshot.
4. SG James Anderson, Oklahoma State
My sleeper to break out onto the national scene in 09/10.
5. PF Ed Davis, North Carolina
Wisely, Davis didn’t make the same mistake that Marvin Williams did last time around.
6. C Solomon Alabi, Florida State
Upside, upside, upside.
7. PG John Wall, Kentucky
Elite point guard prospect in the mold of Derek Rose.
8. SG Willie Warren, Oklahoma
Big time scorer that will get plenty of shots now without Griffin around.
9. SF Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
Should emerge as an elite player in the Big East.
10. PF Craig Brackins, Iowa State
Great size with impressive skills to match.