The Timberwolves were a trendy pick as a breakthrough team this season, but so far they’re stuck in familiar territory with the sixth-worst record in the NBA. (Don’t ask me, by the way, how this friendly wager is going).
Barring a massive turnaround, Minnesota is (again) going to be bound for the lottery — where the franchise figures to gain another piece to add to a roster full of potential.
When that talent is converted into better results is anyone’s guess. There are clearly strong pieces in place, but sports are weird. Nothing is guaranteed until you do it.
If you’re curious, though, what kind of young player the Wolves might add to their group, there is this: ESPN’s Chad Ford recently released the latest version of his mock draft. Yes, the NBA draft is June 22 — the middle of 2017 — whereas it is now Jan. 3, close to the beginning of 2017. A lot can change in half a year.
Still, an early look is an early look. Ford and ESPN project the Wolves to have the No. 8 pick based on a 32-50 finish. That would assume Minnesota (currently 11-23) goes 21-27 over its final 48 games, which would be an improvement on its current pace but still a far cry from preseason expectations.
With that No. 8 pick, Ford (Insider required) currently projects the Wolves could land Duke freshman forward Harry Giles — a mega-talented prospect who has been limited by knee injuries.
It would be a high-risk, high-reward pick (sort of like Zach LaVine was, albeit there wasn’t the extensive injury history with LaVine). Ford cautions that, “If Giles comes on late, he won’t be available this low,” but adds that “if he’s here, the Wolves just added to their embarrassment of young riches.”
If the Wolves do wind up back in the lottery, it will be interesting to see how they proceed. Giles won’t turn 19 until April and might be raw. In the last draft, the Wolves’ bosses went for Kris Dunn — a more polished, NBA-ready player who still has upside.
There’s a school of thought that believes you can never have too much high-end, cost-controlled young talent. There’s another that believes at some point there’s enough youth and more veterans are needed in the mix.
Watching this year’s group, I tend to think the right veteran could have a much greater impact than a young player. But we will see how this all plays out.