Let's start here: The Timberwolves did not need to draft a starting point guard this past June. They've tied a good chunk of the franchise to the development of Ricky Rubio, so choosing another franchise point guard and keeping him just wouldn't have made sense.
So on the face of it, drafting Trey Burke No. 9 overall and then swapping him for the No. 14 (Shabazz Muhammad) and No. 21 (Gorgui Dieng) picks made sense on a needs-filling basis. And it was less than 48 hours ago when we proclaimed Dieng and his potential to block shots as a huge factor for the Wolves as the season goes along.
That said, the questions are going to naturally start coming up now that Burke is healthy after missing the first few weeks with an injury and is starting to round into form with the Jazz. Did the Wolves blow it by trading him?
As the Wolves were defeating the team with the best record in the NBA on Wednesday, Burke was having his best day as a pro. He had 30 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds in an 86-82 victory over Orlando. Dieng and Muhammad have 31 points between them all season.
For all the point guard follies with the Wolves in recent years, it's easy to forget the good ones they either didn't need or had no use for. In 2008, they traded No. 34 overall pick (second round) Mario Chalmers to Miami. He's gone on to be a very productive player. In 2009, after already taking Rubio and Jonny Flynn, the Wolves took Ty Lawson at No. 18 and shipped him to Denver. Again, a very nice pro point guard.
Burke might fall into the same category, and he might wind up even better than those other two. And Wolves fans are noticing -- here is a snippet from a well-reasoned e-mail from reader David, who implored us to write about Burke:
I was excited that a good player actually fell to us at number nine; then we traded a quarter for two nickels because we had too many point guards on roster? It was obvious to anyone that watched college basketball last year that Burke was at least going to be a solid pro. He played ferocious defense, could create his own shot off the dribble and connected on nearly 40 percent of his three point attempts. Now we are stuck watching Barea dribble in circles and Rubio pass up wide open eight foot jumpers because he's terrified to miss.
That's maybe a little harsh, but it's not altogether wrong, either. Burke has played at least 30 minutes in 10 games this year. The Jazz are 5-5 in those games. In all other games, they are 2-16.
The circumstances for keeping Burke on the Wolves weren't right, but that doesn't mean there won't be regret just the same.