The Timberwolves enter next week’s NBA draft needing to add both size and shooting in their backcourt.
Does one need trump the other?
That’s the question they pondered Wednesday, when Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum came to Target Center for an individual workout after the team already evaluated six other players in a group session.
McCollum is considered one of the best shooters in the group, a guy who invites comparisons to Golden State’s Steph Curry — sorry, Wolves fans — not only because of his small-school pedigree but also because of his sweet stroke.
He also stands a touch over 6-3 in his sneakers, which would make point guard Ricky Rubio the tallest member of the backcourt if they played together.
“You want guys who can play,” Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said.
Saunders harped all last season when he worked as a commentator for ESPN that you can’t win in the NBA if you don’t make three-point shots.
“I think we’re seeing that right now in the Finals more than anything,” he said.
Now he has taken over a team that finished last in the league in three-point shooting last season, with a 30.5 percentage.
McCollum shot 51.6 percent from college three-point distance last season in 12 games before he broke his foot in January. He said at last month’s Chicago draft combine that he considers himself more point guard than shooting guard, although he can play both.
According to Saunders, McCollum wouldn’t pick a position when asked which he is.
“It’s not what you play, it’s who you can guard,” Saunders said. “I think he can guard 2s [shooting guard]. They are certain 2s in our league no one can guard, no matter how big, how quick, how strong you are.”
McCollum, who played all four years of college ball but won’t turn 22 until September, participated in his seventh pre-draft workout Tuesday and has one more scheduled. He said he has already worked out at Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento and Denver among the eight teams that will select ahead of the Wolves’ ninth pick.
The Wolves already have, by Saunders’ estimation, five point guards on the roster. Why another one?
“They were last in the NBA three-point percentage for starters, and I’m a pretty good shooter,” McCollum said. “It all depends on team needs. Obviously, they have a really good point guard here in Ricky Rubio. The need is the 2-guard position, another guy who can knock down shots, score and help Kevin Love out down low. I feel like I’m that guy.”