Timberwolves are looking for a guard with the draft’s 9th pickPublished 9:44am Thursday, June 27, 2013
The NBA Draft kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN, and, as usual, the Timberwolves are not in line to select a franchise-changing player.
Barring any last-minute trades (Derrick Williams is the most likely candidate to be moved), the Wolves select ninth, their lowest pick since 2005 as the Clippers owned the team’s lone first rounder last season, who they used to select Austin Rivers.
The move down in draft order might do the Wolves and new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders a favor, though. The team has missed on nearly all of its top six picks over the last half decade, including the disastrous selections of Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson in back-to-back drafts.
The Timberwolves should be able to address their biggest need of shooting if they stay idle at No. 9. Over the past nine years, the ninth selection has produced some productive players such as Joakim Noah, Andre Iguodala and DeMar DeRozan. Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond were also drafted ninth overall and are developing into solid starters.
Below are my predictions for first nine picks of this year’s NBA Draft, which is one of the most unpredictable is years.
No. 1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky:
Noel has been the near-consensus top pick in 2013 since joining Kentucky as the nation’s top rated high-schooler and I think he’ll go No. 1. Despite tearing his ACL late last season, and the Cavs’ attempts to trade out of the top spot, I pick him to join Tristan Thompson and form a solid, young frontcourt in Cleveland, who will push for a playoff berth next season.
No. 2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana:
Oladipo was my favorite college basketball player to watch last season, and I hoped the Timberwolves would land high enough to draft him. Oladipo is an explosive athlete and tenacious defender whose offensive skills are improving but still need work. I’m convinced he’ll be a solid NBA player throughout his career.
No. 3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown:
Porter would be a perfect fit for the Wizards as he would join an already established backcourt for the future in John Wall and Bradley Beal. He has great size at 6 feet, 9 inches, and is one of the draft’s hardest workers. He is considered by some scouts as this year’s biggest sure-thing.
No. 4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len, C, Maryland:
Len has been rumored to be a legit option for the Cavs at No. 1, but he’ll slide to fourth and be a great fit for the Bobcats. Len will allow the ultra athletic, but undersized and offensively inept Bismack Biyombo to move over to power forward, and give Charlotte a more complete scorer underneath. Plus, he’s huge at 7 feet, 1 inch.
No. 5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas:
McLemore would be another great pick for the Wolves, but unless they move up, he’ll go to the Suns with the fifth pick. McLemore is a great athlete and shooter and can defend well. He has the most upside in the draft, but I’ve read GMs worry about his off-the-court issues.
No. 6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan:
The Pelicans need a point guard to pair with young phenoms Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, and Burke is the logical choice here. He’s small, but whoever followed the Big Ten last season knows he can score and distribute as well as anyone in the nation. He’s a winner and a great locker room guy.
No. 7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV:
Bennett would pair with center DeMarcus Cousins to form a great scoring and athletic frontcourt for Sacramento. He is a great low-post scorer but also a threat from the 3-point line.
No. 8. Detroit Pistons: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh:
This is another player I hope will fall to the Timberwolves, and he very well could, but I see Detroit snatching him just before at No. 8. He is an elite scorer who doesn’t take bad shots but lacks size and high-end athleticism. But the Timberwolves desperately need a player who can create their own offense and McCollum can.
No. 9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georiga:
Caldwell-Pope is the best shooter left on the board and has good size and athleticism for the position at 6 feet, 6 inches. He is considered a great defender, averaging two steals per game during his sophomore season at Georgia, and averaged 18.5 points while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc. Caldwell-Pope has high upside, but he was leaned on heavily on a bad college team, potentially skewing his scoring numbers.
Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Thursday.