Citing a lack of “impact players” available, Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders sounded like a man unlikely to move up in Thursday’s NBA draft.
The Wolves hold the No. 9 and No. 26 picks in the draft, which Saunders said is full of good players but not great ones. By impact, Saunders means players who project to be All Stars within a year or two of entering the league. “In order to move up, and dilute the talent pool on your roster, you have to get an impact player,” Saunders said.
That would indicate that Saunders – who said he is in touch daily with teams around the league – is not eager to pay the price to move up in the draft.
So, assuming the Wolves stand pat, it appears most likely the team will address its need for a three-point shooter. Both C.J. McCollum and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are both strong-shooting off guards who could be available when the Wolves pick comes up.
Not that Saunders was about to tip his hand. Indeed, Saunders said the only position he wouldn’t consider with a first-round pick would be point guard. After that? Anything could happen, he insisted.
The team needs to bolster its three-point shooting, make sure the team has enough big men.
But it appears bolstering perimeter play is a priority.
Saunders pointed to the recently-concluded NBA finals as proof that teams need to be effective from behind the three-point like to be successful. The Wolves, last in the NBA in three-point shooting last season, figure to improve simply by getting healthier; Kevin Love will be back, and Saunders hopes to bring back free agent Chase Budinger.
But the team needs more depth on the perimeter.
“We need shooting, but we want a multi-purpose player,” Saunders said. “We want a two-way player, not a player who is just a shooter. There are a few players who have the ability to do that.”
Both McCollum – whose senior season at Lehigh was cut short with a left foot injury -- and Caldwell-Pope are players fitting that mold. “They’re both good players,” Saunders said. “Both have the ability to knock down shots, both are multi-dimensional players. Both played where their teams (Caldwell-Pope played for Georgia) didn’t get a lot of publicity – McCollum because he got hurt.”
Pope is taller, Saunders said, while McCollum has more range. “But I don’t think we’ll look at just one factor when taking somebody,” Saunders said.
It might not be his call, as many draft experts have McCollum coming off the board before the Wolves make the No. 9 pick.
Here are some other notes from today:
--Saunders was late to the press conference because the team was working out North Texas forward Tony Mitchell. Saunders said it was the last pre-draft workout for the team.
--Saunders said a number of players had gathered in California to work out together. That group includes Love, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, Budinger and Chris Johnson. It is possible J.J. Barea could join them, as could Alexey Shved, who is supposed to be in the country later this summer.
--Saunders said there was perhaps only one player of the many the team brought in for workouts who he wouldn’t consider drafting because of the impression that player left. Saunders, of course, would not name the player.
--Andrei Kirilenko has not yet told the team whether or not he will exercise his $10 million player option for next season. “I have an inclination,” Saunders said of the situation. “Not going to tell you.” Kirilenko’s deadline is Saturday, and Saunders said he probably won’t know of Kirilenko’s decision until after the draft, which could complicate the team’s draft-day decisions.