ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Timberwolves have roster needs. Can they fill one in the draft?

Heading into Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the Wolves hold the No. 19 overall pick

We are part of The Trust Project.

As Tim Connelly preps for his first roster transactions as Minnesota Timberwolves basketball boss with Thursday night’s NBA Draft, and beyond, there are certainly holes on the roster for him to fill.

It’s possible at least one of them could be addressed with the No. 19 pick Minnesota currently possesses. Here is a look at the team’s needs, and which prospects could potentially fill them should the Timberwolves keep the pick:

MORE MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES COVERAGE:
Pro
In some ways, it seems early for such proclamations. The Timberwolves haven’t been to the second round of the NBA playoffs since 2004. This spring marked the first playoff experience for a number of key players on the roster, who are still in the infant stages of their careers. Going from that to championship is quite a leap.
Pro
“But just the guys you know, the people in this organization, the people in the locker room, the friends I’ve been able to make here in Minnesota, it just feels like home,” Towns said.
Pro
A second-round pick in last month’s NBA Draft, the Italian point guard is getting a three-week crash course in NBA basketball at Summer League before heading back to Italy.
Pro
Timberwolves believe ‘there’s no reason why it won’t’
Pro
Finch already has displayed what he can do with less-than-the-best talent in this league during his short tenure with the Timberwolves.
Pro
Minnesota acquired three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from Utah in exchange for four first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, along with Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro and Walker Kessler
Pro
Entrenching Gobert in the post defensively would likely help alleviate Towns’ foul trouble concerns and take some pressure off him altogether defensively throughout the regular season
Pro
The 28-year-old is belovingly referred to as “Slo-Mo” — because while the 6-foot-9 forward had a vast skillset, he succeeds in spite of a lack of speed
Pro
“I definitely feel like I’m someone who can play all over the floor,” Moore said on Tuesday morning during his introductory news conference at Target Center. “I can play with anybody.”
Pro
The good news for Kessler is he’s going to get some time to develop early in his career.

Power forward

Why the need? Jarred Vanderbilt was fantastic at the starting four spot for large chunks of last season. His defensive intensity and high-energy plays swung games and helped set the tone for the team’s all-around improvement in areas that lead to winning.

But Vanderbilt did seem to wear down at times and wasn’t always Chris Finch’s preferred fit in certain lineups. He just turned 23 years old, so it might not be fair to put a lid on his growth, but Vanderbilt’s playing style and current offensive limitations may be better suited to averaging 20 minutes a game off the bench.

ADVERTISEMENT

That could leave a hole at power forward, where Minnesota needs more depth regardless. Jaden McDaniels is always an option to play as a small-ball power forward, but those lineups often leave the Timberwolves too small, and he seems best-suited to play out on the wing.

There are options at No. 19 who would help fortify Minnesota’s power forward platoon and could take over as the starter at some point next season.

Possible picks: Ohio State’s EJ Liddell, LSU’s Tari Eason, Serbia’s Nikola Jovic.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell (32) dribbles the ball as Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Lat Mayen (11) defends during the second half March 1, 2022, at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Joseph Maiorana / USA Today Sports

Center

Why the need? The Timberwolves could use a big center for a couple reasons. No. 1, Naz Reid continues to evolve into a skilled offensive player who seems to become more athletic with each passing season. But he’s also undersized and, thus, overmatched against certain opponents. Minnesota had few counters when those situations arose last season, so adding some type of more traditional big makes sense.

But if the move is simply to add a backup center, that might make more sense as a veteran acquisition through trade or free-agent signing.

There also is the possibility that Minnesota could change philosophies under Connelly and push Karl-Anthony Towns down to power forward. That would certainly create other issues, but would help solve Minnesota’s size and rebounding problems. Because right now, outside of Towns, the Wolves don’t have a guy who can be counted on to consistently crash the glass and vacuum up boards.

As of Monday, The Athletic reported the Timberwolves were at least sniffing around Hawks’ center Clint Capela. But if Minnesota decides to nab a starting five of the future on Thursday, there are a couple intriguing potential options who could serve as defensive anchors for years to come.

ADVERTISEMENT

Possible picks: Duke’s Mark Williams, Auburn’s Walker Kessler.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Jacksonville State vs Auburn
Jackson State Tigers forward Kelvin Wesley (23) shoots against Auburn Tigers forward Walker Kessler (13) during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament on March 18, 2022, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.
Bob Donnan / USA Today Sports

Playmaker

Why the need? While D’Angelo Russell’s future in Minnesota remains a relative unknown heading into this offseason, that doesn’t have much to do with this need. The Timberwolves were on the hunt for an additional playmaker as recently as the trade deadline.

The easiest way to break down a defense in any situation is having players who can attack the rim off the bounce. Anthony Edwards is elite at doing just that when he wants to, but outside of the star wing, Minnesota has few other options. Jaylen Nowell has those capabilities but hasn’t been able to carve out a full-time role in Minnesota’s rotation.

Whether it be at point guard or wing, the Timberwolves could use at least one more player who can attack the rack to create for himself and others.

Possible picks: Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley, Kentucky’s TyTy Washington, Ohio State’s Malaki Branham, Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Howard
Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Blake Wesley (0) dunks the ball against the Howard Bison during the first half Jan. 17, 2022, at Burr Gymnasium in Washington, D.C.
Brad Mills / USA Today Sports

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
Pro
Since Aug. 3, the day after the major league trade deadline, are hitting .198 with RISP
Pro
In his preseason debut, first-round pick was in the starting lineup and on the field for 34 defensive plays.
Pro
The second-year quarterback out of Texas A&M looked good in Minnesota’s preseason opener, completing 9 of 14 passes for 119 yards and the two touchdowns. He had a sparkling passer rating of 130.7.
Pro
The Loons dealt with a steady stream of pressure, but made the most of their few opportunities to take all three points on the road.