Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2011 NBA Draft Options

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It was assumed that the Minnesota Timberwolves would struggle this season. But with those struggles would come improvement from a season ago.

Early on the Wolves weren’t a good team, but they were at least fun to watch as there was always an abundance of energy.

Now the Wolves look like they’ve checked out, and taken leaps backwards from the progression they showed in December.

While much of that blame can go on the shoulders of head coach Kurt Rambis, for the sake of this blog I will chalk it up to a lack of talent.

With the Wolves on the cusp of receiving a top five pick in next June’s draft, these are the five options that Wolves will have in the draft.

Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke, 6’1’’, 19.


In only 11 games, three of them in the NCAA tournament, Irving showed that he has all the tools to be an elite point guard in the next level.

His 17.5 points per game, 4.3 assists per game, and 1.5 steals per game came in only 27.5 minutes per game. Irving also shoots a 46.2 percent clip from beyond the three-point line.

I would’ve been offended if two years ago you told me the Wolves would covet a point guard with a top five pick in this year’s draft. Now the reality is it is their second biggest need.

Luke Ridnour has proven that he can be a very solid option as a backup point guard in this league. The same can be said about Sebastian Telfair.

Jonny Flynn… (Get yourself together, Brett)… Disappointing left town months ago for Flynn, who continues to amaze me with his passes into the fifth row, and airballed lay-ups.

Ricky Rubio is the question mark. His play in the Euroleague has been shaky, but still possess the upside and skill set to excel in the NBA game.

Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina, 6’8’’, 18.


Barnes was the consensus top recruit in the class of 2010.

He was predicted to go number one before the season began, and was a 1st team pre-season All-American without ever playing a collegiate game.

But Barnes struggled early, and his draft stock plummeted as well.

Barnes turned his season around during ACC play, and threw his name back into the top pick discussion.

His length and athleticism makes him a perfect fit to play the small forward position in the NBA.

He can shoot it from deep, create his own shot, and get to the rim.

Word has been traveling around that Barnes may return to Chapel Hill for his sophomore season, but as of now I don’t see how he can pass up being a lock for a top-three pick.

The Wolves have essentially the same player as Barnes in forward Michael Beasley. But Beasley will be a free agent after the 2011-12 season, and will potentially seek a hefty contract.

Barnes would fit in nicely filling the void that Beasley would leave, while also being a contender for sixth man of the year in his rookie season.

Derrick Williams, SF/PF, Arizona, 6’8’’, 19.


In his two years in Tucson, Williams has only gotten better.

According to Rivals recruiting service, Williams came in as a three-star recruit, and the fifth best recruit in the Wildcats’ class.

Going from three-star to top three pick shows the work ethic and determination that is needed to become an elite player in the NBA.

According to Rivals, Williams came in at 210 pounds, now he is listed as 241. He has an NBA ready body, and plays with the physicality that is needed to play on the block in the NBA.

Yet he also can stretch the floor and shoot it from deep with the best of them. On the year Williams was 42 of 74 from three, shooting at a 56.8 percent clip.

While Barnes fits the Wolves better, Williams may be the safer bet.

Williams would be a great fit playing small forward alongside Kevin Love, while also being able to play power forward with Beasley in the game.

Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky via Turkey, 6’10’’, 18.

Kanter has the size and length to play center in the NBA.

A Kentucky recruit, Kanter was ruled ineligible due to receiving paid benefits while playing professionally in his home nation of Turkey.

Although Kanter was deemed ineligible, Kentucky coach John Calipari has been preparing Kanter for the next level, which should aid him more than if he played another season in Europe.

While the Wolves already have two European centers that have struggled immensely to reach potential, Kanter doesn’t posses that same bust potential.

The problem is that the Wolves are on the books with center’s Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic for the next three seasons.

Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut, 6’1’’ (more along the lines of 5’11”), 20.

I recently gushed over Walker, and how great of a fit he would be for the Wolves. (You can find that article here.)

Adding to his resume since my previous love affair and coining of “Kemboner,” Walker has led UCONN to the final four by putting all of his immense talents on display.

I already discussed the Wolves need for a point guard (see Irving, Kyrie), but Walker’s big play– take over game ability– is second to none in this year’s draft.

While he’s ranked ninth overall by ESPN’s Chad Ford, if the Wolves slide to five in the draft, they’d be crazy to pass on the ultra-electric Walker.

 

-Brett Cloutier

Brett is a contributor to The Sports Bank as beat writer for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gopher hockey. He is also the co-host of ‘The Backdoor Cut,’ a Minneapolis based sports and pop culture radio show.

You can follow Brett on Twitter @brettcloutier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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