If the 2019-20 NBA season is able to proceed, Gersson Rosas and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ standing in this year’s draft, will be what intrigues fans most. Of course, it is uncertain when the 2020 NBA Draft will take place, since that depends on the results of a season yet to be finished. Meanwhile, established players like Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon are just waiting to be stolen away from their unappreciating franchises…
Gersson Rosas has openly echoed his plans for the draft during multiple interviews, most recently to Chad Hartman of WCCO Radio and to Darren Wolfson on his Scoop podcast. He’s going to be aggressive and pursue all avenues to improve this team’s roster for the immediate future.
More than likely, the Wolves will have 3 of the first 33 picks and there are a variety of different avenues that the Rosas could potentially take. Based upon what we know about his’approach to acquiring talent (aggressive), the Wolves won’t necessarily keep all three of their selections.
They might decide not to gamble on a “risky” prospect, instead opting for the safe route; trading for an established player…
Top of the draft options:
I don’t necessarily think LaMelo Ball is a good fit for the Wolves, even though many believe him to be the best player in this draft. However, if Rosas wants to move D’Angelo Russell off-ball, then maybe Ball would fit well in Ryan Saunders’ system. Ball has shown the ability to control the pace and distribute.
I think the one big fish the Timberwolves could try and package picks to move up for (or be lucky enough to win) is Georgia wing Anthony Edwards. Edwards has some doubters, but has shown a skillset that make me believe he will be a successful pro. In a scenario where the Wolves end up outside the top two, and decide they want to put their chips in for a player like Ball or Edwards, they could easily move up.
In my opinion, the most likely scenario for the Wolves on draft night is trading one or both of their first round picks for an established younger player with NBA experience. There are several young-ish players between the ages of 22 and 26 who might be able to get rescued out of bad situations.
Gordon or LaVine
Obviously, the two names that come to mind are Orlando’s Aaron Gordon and Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine. In any trade for a young budding star, the Wolves could match salary using James Johnson and his expiring $16 million contract, assuming he decides accept his player option, and add one of their picks to it. Gordon probably would make more sense right now, as the Wolves could use a versatile player with size and length to pair in the frontcourt with KAT.
On the other hand, the thought of reuniting Lavine with his buddy KAT and putting him alongside D-Lo sounds crazy. It would create more “small-ball” opportunities and increase the level of offensive output. However, that lineup wouldn’t have the capacity to stop the slightest nosebleed defensively, which would perpetuate a consistent problem that has plagued this franchise since KG left.
Gordon would greatly help boost the Wolves on defense and also has a solid offensive game in the midrange. His contract is structured in a rare way where it decreases each year. He has two years left on his current deal, which pays him roughly $40 million over that span. Gordon is still relatively young and fits the current timelne of this Wolves team surrounding KAT and Russell. He actually happens to be the same age as KAT and Russell, only a year older than Malik Beasley, so he would be a potential pillar for the Wolves in the future.
A few others
There are other players who fit this criteria Rosas that could snag for that similar package on draft night, including Caris LeVert and Josh Richardson. Each of these four players mentioned are in uncomfortable sitations and have salaries that would match up with Johnson. Teams may be enticed by bringing in a first round pick.
It appears that the Sixers, who have been underachieving this year with their newly constructed roster surrounding Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, could decide to jump ship and send Richardson away. The Nets will have Kyrie and Durant healthy again next year and LeVert might not match up well with them on the court. There have been rumors involving him being traded already.
All of these players would fit nicely with what Rosas and Saunders are trying to accomplish around the core of KAT, Russell and Beasley and are all young enough to still be a central piece of this core long term.
The other option
A third option, which Rosas has mentioned openly, is the possibility of trading away one of the two first round picks for a future pick and trade down in the draft. It appears that in spite of acquired tastes and somewhat differing skillsets, most of the projected prospects ranked between 10 and 30 on the consensus draft boards are mostly interchangeable and have marginal differences. There are many good players, who might not turn into stars, that would fit perfectly with what the Wolves want to do.
One idea is to trade down for a package that includes a pick either in 2021 or 2022, along with a later pick in the first round this year. There are at least six or seven players who would be good fits. If the Wolves desire to fortifiy their PF, some options include Daniel Oturu of Minnesota, Jalen Smith of Maryland, or Patrick Williams of Florida State.
Each of these three guys are projected to go between picks 12-20 and each provide different sets of skills that would help the Wolves. If Rosas and the Wolves decide to go after guards to play along with Russell and Beasley, Saddiq Bey of Villanova would be a solid option as well. Although they would trade down for what could be a lesser talent, there is the chance that any of these players could be just as good as whoever would get taken at the fifth pick, plus they would have more assets to work with in the future.
There is a possibility that the Wolves could simply settle on using their own picks, it definitely does appear that Rosas and the Wolves staff want to act aggressively and are not willing to settle. It will definitely be interesting to see how the NBA draft process takes shape in spite of the pandemic and how this aspiring aggressiveness takes the Wolves as a franchise this summer.
Ameer | Minnesota Sports Fan