Watch for Timberwolves to Target USC’s Isaiah Collier During Tonight’s NBA Draft

Isaiah Collier Southern California
Alex Gallardo-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Alex Gallardo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s NBA Draft day and the air is abuzz with rumors and whispers regarding what teams might do on the first night of the inaugural 2-day event. For the Minnesota Timberwolves, all options are reportedly on the table, but more than likely, they are expected to stick and pick at No. 27.

That is unless certain prospects start tumbling down the board, which is pretty much the expectation, at this point. Unlike most drafts, some of the highest-ceiling talents could be available into the late 20’s. Specifically, there are two interesting 1st round prospects that the Wolves seem to be eyeing, Illinois’ Terrance Shannon Jr and USC’s Isaiah Collier.

Minnesota was able to get the 23-year-old Shannon Jr. in for a late workout, according to Darren “Doogie” Wolfson (KSTP, SKOR North) after he was cleared of felony domestic abuse charges that had been hanging over his head throughout the draft process.

Minnesota Timberwolves targeting USC’s Isaiah Collier?

Collier is just 19-years-old, and possibly one of the most intriguing storylines to watch on Wednesday night. He was the number one overall prospect in the country for the 2023 high school recruiting class (247Sports), and just a few months ago, Collier was at the top of most 2024 NBA mock drafts.

Unfortunately for him, he landed (along with Bronny James) at arguably the worst collegiate situation possible for a top high school men’s basketball recruit in the 2023 class. Both players’ 2024 draft stock has plummeted, in part, because of how terrible USC was.

Still, Collier balled out at times, throughout the season (see below). But after the dumpster fire that was Southern Cal, NBA scouts started to pick up on some possibly alarming issues in his game, including a lack of high-end athletic ability and possible problems reading defenses in real time, which led to him oftentimes being a ball-stopper on offense.

Collier is an impressive downhill threat who lives in the paint and has the wherewithal to hit kickout passes and dump-offs. However, Collier did not test or measure well at the combine, and evaluators wonder if his finishing and power-based game will translate to the NBA.

Sam Vecenie – The Athletic

Isaiah Collier is incredible off the pick and roll, and can pretty much get down hill on any defender whenever he wants. Scouts worry about whether or not he will be able to finish around the rim in the NBA, given his inability to rise above the defense.

But even with some of his projected deficiencies, any team that can land Collier in the back half of the first round will have gotten a steal. And it seems like the Minnesota Timberwolves, at pick 27, could be especially targeting the young point guard.

NBA Insiders linking Minnesota Timberwolves to Isaiah Collier

On the Mackey & Judd Show Tuesday, Darren Wolfson said he expects the Wolves to “gobble up” either of Collier or Shannon Jr., should they fall. Then, on Wednesday morning, entrenched national NBA insider Sam Vecenie (The Athletic) took the Collier + Minnesota connection a step further.

In his final mock draft, Vecenie putting the MN Timberwolves on a trade up to No. 22 with the Phoenix Suns, dealing their 2nd rounder (No. 37) on Thursday and another one in 2025, in order to land the once projected No. 1 overall pick out of USC.

22. TRADE: Phoenix Suns trade pick to Minnesota Timberwolves

Isaiah Collier | 6-3 guard | 19 years old | USC

(Projected trade details: Phoenix trades No. 22 to Minnesota for No. 27, No. 37 and a future second-round pick.)

This would represent a long slide for Collier, but league sources are having trouble finding his floor. Even as he started the season on fire and looked like a candidate to be the No. 1 pick, scouts worried about his style of play. He then tailed off as USC’s season fell apart, struggling with turnovers and defense, and missed time after hurting his hand.

Once he returned in February, he took the Pac-12 by storm, averaging 18.7 points and 4.3 assists over his final seven games while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from 3. He was the bruising, powerful driver we saw early in college and throughout his high school career, generating seven free-throw attempts per night.

Sam Vecenie – The Athletic

Even before local and national insiders started relaying chatter on how much the Wolves like Collier, the fit wasn’t hard to see. Once it was clear that he could fall down the board, many were tagging Minnesota as a possible “floor”, as Vecenie calls it.

The Timberwolves are desperate to find a point guard who can replace the almost 37-year-old Mike Conley, sometime before his new contract extension expires two years from now. How desperate are they, you ask?

Timberwolves prioritizing a point guard of the future this offseason

Read what Chris Finch had to say on KFAN radio with Paul Allen Tuesday, regarding the high priority they are placing on finding the Timberwolves’ point guard of the future this offseason.

PA: “Mike Conley is a born leader, but also is nearing the end of his career. Is point guard an A-topic position this off season?”

Finch: “No doubt. It has been a point of emphasis for a number of years and we were lucky to be able to get Mike [Conley] when we were. Super happy that we were able to get him on board for another couple years, and now what we need to do is continue to look for heir apparent at that position. You know, ideally, we get a young guy in here who Mike can help mentor and then there’s a smooth transition.”

Chris Finch on how much the Timberwolves are prioritizing the point guard position this offseason (KFAN Radio)

Finch also brings up free agency and the “interesting options” it might provide. His tone doesn’t sound optimistic, though. That’s because Chris knows the Wolves’ luxury tax circumstances all too well.

For those of you who don’t know, Minnesota is beyond the second apron of the luxury tax and one penalty for breaching that tier is that you can’t sign free agents, unless they are on veteran minimum contracts. Which is why Finchy chose “interesting” as his descriptive word for their likely options.

It’s also why the Wolves head coach notes that the Timberwolves would really like to bring back their own free agent point guards, which of course means Monte Morris, something Wolfson reported on Tuesday.

Related: Could Timberwolves Draft Cam Christie?

As the head coach notes above… the Timberwolves’ best bet at point guard, since there is no obvious replacement already in the organization, is to draft one who can develop, then eventually take the baton from Mike Conley.

If you think Finch doesn’t have his eyes on Collier, you are crazy. If a former projected top pick, who is known for his ability to penetrate the lane and find teammates becomes available tonight, the Wolves need (and probably will) pounce. Remember, they do not have a first round pick in 2025.

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