Editorial: Drafting smart vital for Wolves

Published 9:41 am Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Golden State Warriors were this year’s example.

Draft well, and a championship is possible.

The Warriors drafted this year’s NBA MVP, Stephen Curry, with the seventh pick of the 2009 draft and added Klay Thompson with the 11th pick in 2011 to set the foundation for success.

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For the first time in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves won the draft lottery to take the first pick in tonight’s draft that will be televised at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

Winning the draft lottery can be a blessing. It can also be somewhat of a curse.

In hindsight, the Portland Trail Blazers wouldn’t have chosen Sam Bowie and his injury problems with the second pick of the 1984 draft before Michael Jordan was taken at No. 3. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as draft blunders go.

Foreign players are hard to scout. In the ’98 draft, Dirk Nowitzki was taken ninth overall. It’s hard to believe the 13-time All-Star was picked behind Michael Olowkandi, Mike Bibby, Raef LaFrentz, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Robert Traylor, Jason Williams and Larry Hughes.

It makes us wonder if the Timberwolves should choose Latvian power forward Kristaps Porzingis. Most draft reviews compared him with Nowitzki. Porzingis is a 7-foot-2-inch power forward, who is a strong perimeter shooter with 3-point range. The knock on him is a perceived lack of strength. Do the Wolves need a power forward? Yes.

Although Minnesota has more depth at power forward than any other position, it has a lack of quality depth. Kevin Garnett is at the top of the depth chart.

In Minnesota, we love Garnett. He led the franchise to its first playoff berth. He took the Wolves to the Western Conference finals for the first time.

However, Garnett’s production has dropped. It’s understandable. He’s 39 years old. During the 2003-04 season, Garnett averaged 24.2 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. In 42 games for Brooklyn last year, he averaged 6.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

The favorites to be chosen with the top pick are power forwards Karl-Anthony Towns out of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor out of Duke.

Towns is an elite shot blocker, a good rebounder and excellent shooter. ESPN’s draft experts compared him to Chris Bosh, and Dick Vitale picked him to go to Minnesota in his mock draft.

Okafor is similar to Towns, but he is not listed as an elite rebounder, and he made only 99 of 194 free throws last year for the Blue Devils.

Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell is also a projected top-five pick, but Minnesota is set in the backcourt. The Wolves have Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine at the point along with Kevin Martin at shooting guard. We hope the team picks up someone in free agency to add depth at the shooting guard position, but it shouldn’t be wasted on the top pick in the draft.

To be clear, we’ll support whoever the Wolves choose. We just hope their choice doesn’t make the list of top 20 draft blunders 20 years down the road.