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Wolves should get player who can contribute quickly with 20th pick in draft

ESPN had a marathon conference call Monday with front office insider Bobby Marks and scouting analyst Mike Schmitz in preparation for Thursday’s NBA Draft.

A lot of what they were asked pertained to specific players, but some of their comments also spoke to some general truths — at least as both men see them — about the players available this year.

Of particular interest locally, of course, is what the Timberwolves might do with the No. 20 overall pick. While every team would love to hit a home run every time they call a player’s name, the more likely scenario with that type of selection is trying to at least find a player with a high floor — that is, a player who should provide valuable minutes but might not necessarily have the ceiling to be a potential star.

Sure, there are examples of players drafted that low (or lower) who have emerged as forces (Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela and Kyle Kuzma were all taken in the 20s in the last five drafts), but a more realistic and efficient model is the one espoused by the Spurs (who are used to drafting in the 20s, unlike the Wolves): find low-cost supporting players who fit a specific need.

The Wolves this year have a very serious need for depth, particularly at shooting guard/small forward. And they are in luck, it would seem, because this year’s draft seems to be the intersection of that need and that type of player in about the spot they will pick.

Marks on Monday’s call talked about breaking the draft into tiers, and what someone drafting on the fringe of the lottery and beyond might be able to get.

“In that 13 to 35 grouping, we’re probably going to see a flurry of 2s and 3s come on the board in that range, ” he said. “If you’re a team like Boston who probably doesn’t have much flexibility salary cap wise, or more Minnesota, Portland, teams like that, you’re probably going to get a pretty good rotational player if you want to get a wing. It’s like ordering off the menu, it’s just a matter of kind of which ones you want.”

Added Schmitz, when asked specifically about the Spurs and the No. 18 pick: “I think you can get quite a bit of value at 18, too. Like I said before, I think this is a fairly deep draft, whether it’s another guard or a bigger wing.”

The Ringer’s excellent mock draft/breakdown illustrates just that, with a big clump of shooting guards and small forwards projected to go at and around No. 20 (they have Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop, who figures to be mostly a small forward in the NBA, going to the Wolves. He’s pictured above).

Minnesota paid Jamal Crawford about $4.5 million last season to be the first shooter off the bench, and he opted out of his contract to become a free agent. If the Wolves want to upgrade from Crawford, they could spend that much (or probably more) … or they can find a much cheaper option in the draft who should get the job done and theoretically has more upside.

“I think it’s hard for teams to find shooting, either in free agency or it will likely cost you, or in the trade market where you have to give up something,” Marks said. “To find value in the draft, if it’s in the 20s, on a player that’s going to make $2 million for the next four years and you’ve got him on a controllable contract. I think that outweighs a team that wants to go out and spend $5 or $6 million on a veteran shooter.”

Unless the Wolves can get some sort of salary relief in a trade (by, say, attaching Gorgui Dieng and his three remaining years of roughly $16 million per season to a deal) while also getting some shooting in return, their best move is almost certainly to find whatever wing they like the best and take him.

Then it’s up to Tom Thibodeau the coach to take Thibodeau the POBO’s young acquisition and use him.

What were the Capitals thinking with Barry Trotz?

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler, where anything is possible.

*I’m still shaking my head at the breakup between the Stanley Cup-winning Capitals and head coach Barry Trotz, who resigned Monday after failing to come to terms with the team on a long-term contract. He entered the season as a lame duck … but he won the Cup! Pay the man.

The Capitals instead seem poised to promote associate coach Todd Reirden to head coach.

“Todd’s a good candidate for it,” GM Brian MacLellan said. “We’re going to start with Todd here, and we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or for someone else. We’ll see how the talk goes with him and then we’ll make a decision based on that. If it goes well, then we’ll pursue Todd, and if it doesn’t, we’ll open it up a little bit.”

Washington seems to have a lot of “smartest guys in the room” running the show. They’d better be right.

*SPEAKING OF ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE: Sunday marked the 10-year anniversary of Kevin Garnett’s one and only NBA championship. It came in his first season with the Celtics, in 2007-08, after the Wolves dealt him in the offseason and embarked on a rebuilding project that looked mostly like the longest and worst episode of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” in history but has finally started to take shape a decade later.

Boston united Garnett with fellow veterans Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, sprinkled in young point guard Rajon Rondo and some killer defense (aided by associate head coach Tom Thibodeau) and embarked on a dramatic turnaround from 24 wins to 66 wins.

The Celtics eventually knocked off the Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals, including a 131-92 bludgeoning in the clinching Game 6. (Kobe Bryant was 7 for 22 from the field and a minus-35 for the game, in case you believe any revisionist history about how Kobe never struggled in the finals).

But more importantly, a triumphant and euphoric Garnett conducted one of the most famous post-game interviews ever after winning the title — including the bellowing of the phrase, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!”

I probably shout that at least once a week because it’s the perfect phrase. Here is the full two-minute interview from 10 years ago:  

*So here’s a fun quirk: Juan Soto has been crushing big league pitching since being called up by the Nationals on May 20 at the tender age of 19. He had five home runs entering play Monday, and he hit his sixth against the Yankees yesterday.

But that sixth home run came as a pinch hitter in a game that started May 15 but was halted because of rain and resumed Monday. So his sixth home run will be credited as happening in a May 15 game — five days before his MLB debut.

Anyway, here’s the mammoth blast:

*The NBA Draft gets most of the hype, but don’t forget about the NHL Draft this week as well. ESPN did its final mock draft and has the Wild taking wing Serron Noel from the Ontario Hockey League at No. 24 overall. He projects as a big forward who in several years could do the things for the Wild that Alex Tuch is doing right now for Vegas (sheds single tear).

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Saints at Lincoln

    6:45 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Boston at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Boston at Twins

    12:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Texas at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Lynx at Phoenix

    9 pm on FSN PLUS, 106.1-FM

  • Texas at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6 pm

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Loons at Colorado

    8 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Texas at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Lynx at Las Vegas

    5 pm on NBATV, 106.1-FM

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    5:05 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Sioux City at Saints

    7:05 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Seattle at Lynx

    7 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Sioux City at Saints

    7:05 pm on 93.3-FM

  • Twins at Chicago White Sox

    7:10 pm on FSN, 830-AM

Today's Scoreboard

  • LA Dodgers

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    4

    3

  • Seattle

    NY Yankees

     

    - F

    2

    7

  • St. Louis

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    7

    6

  • Milwaukee

    Pittsburgh

     

    - F

    3

    2

  • Baltimore

    Washington

     

    - F

    7

    9

  • Atlanta

    Toronto

     

    - F

    11

    4

  • Detroit

    Cincinnati

     

    - F

    5

    9

  • Chicago White Sox

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    3

    6

  • LA Dodgers

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • Tampa Bay

    Houston

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • Boston

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    2

    6

  • Texas

    Kansas City

     

    - F

    4

    1

  • NY Mets

    Colorado

     

    - F

    8

    10

  • Arizona

    LA Angels

     

    - F

    4

    5

  • Oakland

    San Diego

     

    - F

    4

    2

  • Miami

    San Francisco

     

    - F

    3

    6

No NFL games today

No NBA games today

No NHL games today

No MLS games today