The consensus among those who evaluate the NBA Draft is that there isn’t a bona fide superstar or even a sure thing at the top of the draft, which makes this a complicated year for the Wolves to land the No. 1 pick even if it has definite value.
But that hasn’t stopped those who evaluate the draft from forming a near-consensus about which player the Wolves will take No. 1 overall if they do, indeed, keep the choice instead of trading it.
Looking at seven mock drafts that have been updated since the Wolves won the lottery last week, a clear theme emerges: 6-5 Georgia wing Anthony Edwards is the pick at No. 1 overall in six of them.
Edwards does seem like the best fit among the possible top picks — LaMelo Ball is a point guard and James Wiseman is a big man, positions of strength already for the Wolves with D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. But President Gersson Rosas clearly believes in taking the best player available and worrying about positional fit later.
Let’s take a quick look at the six who like Edwards for the Wolves, then the outlier:
Sporting News notes that, “Edwards didn’t amaze scouts like a typical No. 1 pick while playing for the Bulldogs, but he may have the most potential of any player in this draft. He is an explosive offensive force who can get downhill in a hurry.”
NBADraft.net offers plenty of kudos but also this warning about Edwards: “For someone who can get to the rim and challenge the help defender, he settles for a lot of deep, contested shots.”
Indeed, shot selection is a trait that keeps coming up in evaluations of Edwards. But that also seems to be a thing that is more easily taught than, say, athleticism.
Similarly, Tankathon rates Edwards as the top pick but also lists far more minuses than pluses next to his skill set. The biggest plus? His age. He just turned 19 earlier this month and has plenty of room to grow.
Forbes also stresses Edwards’ upside in tabbing him as a good piece for the Wolves, while also noting that at 19.1 ppg he led all Division I freshmen in scoring last season.
It’s possible that you’re breaking out in a cold sweat thinking about a young, inefficient athletic wing with high upside. Sounds a lot like Andrew Wiggins, right? Fair enough. But each player deserves the chance to be judged on his own.
Sports Illustrated has a pretty comprehensive breakdown and writes this about Edwards: “His flashes of offensive dominance, though fewer and farther between than you’d like, can be tantalizing, and if he hits his ceiling as a two-way perimeter threat who defends wings and can play on and off the ball, Edwards has All-Star potential.”
Bleacher Report likes Edwards to head to the Wolves, though the site’s headline references which team will land Ball — clearly showing which prospect at least has the bigger name. Of Edwards, it is written: “Between Anthony Edwards’ age (19), physical profile, explosiveness, advanced shot-creation and three-level shot-making, he possesses the draft’s most favorable mix of talent, upside and skill. And teams can’t seem to have enough creators and wings.”
The outlier? It’s a big one. ESPN.com (Insider required) likes the Wolves to instead take Ball — arguing that he has the greatest upside. “To speed up their rebuild, the Timberwolves need to continue to stockpile star power. No one in this draft class has more of that than Ball. His size makes him easy to pair with another guard, and teammates will love his tremendous passing creativity and the way he empowers others.”
We’ll find out what the Wolves really do … eventually? The draft was tentatively moved to mid-October a while back, but it’s possible it could be moved again if the 2020-21 season is pushed back from a Dec. 1 timeline that Adam Silver recently said is “feeling a little bit early to me.“