This is my first version of what will be multiple articles in which I pick one prospect that the Timberwolves have a legitimate shot at in this year’s NBA Draft.
Some of you may know, but some may not, the Wolves own the rights to this years Oklahoma City Thunder first round pick. But, because the Thunder tied the Pelicans, Pacers, and Jazz for overall record, there was a random picking to see how the four spots shook out. The Wolves fortunately received the 20th pick which was the best possible scenario.
There is some great value in that range and due to this year’s deep draft class, the Wolves should be able to snag an effective prospect. If Tom Thibodeau plays him or not is another story. With an understanding of the roster, the Wolves are in dire need of a wing player that can shoot from outside and can show a nice defensive skill set at the NBA level. We also could use another guard that can handle the ball and be aggressive at the point of attack on the defensive side of the ball.
For my first piece in this series, I am going to talk about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the guard from the University of Kentucky. I know he could very well be gone long before our pick as his stock has been rising all year. I thought it would be nice to start from the “best” to “worst” prospects to have a semblance of order.
A former 4-star recruit out of high school, which is unusual for a Kentucky team that is dominated by some of the best 5-star recruits in the country, took control of a Kentucky team that was reeling for most of the past season. According to head coach John Calipari, he is an absolute gym rat, much like our very own Jimmy Butler.
Let’s go over his strengths and weaknesses
- Nice size that can fit at the 1 or 2.
- Great defensively.
- Not afraid of contact at the rim and draws fouls at a nice rate.
- His shooting numbers suggest he can turn into an effective shooter at the NBA level.
- Rebounding rate is a little low for someone with his size and length.
- Turnover rate is high even for a guard.
- Average athlete.
- Skinny frame causes him to lose battles in the post and getting around screens.
After a fantastic freshman season, he has turned his game into the value of what could be a lottery selection come this June. With the Wolves at 20, they could look to trade with the Los Angeles Clippers who have two picks at 12 and 13 but with the current assets on the team, that could be difficult to pull off.
Gilgeous-Alexander can give Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler, and Andrew Wiggins a much needed rest throughout next season with the current skill set he has. Thibodeau could be intrigued in him especially because of the defensive presence he has already shown. Improving his 3 point shooting is what will make or break him long term as a prospect but if the Timberwolves managed to secure his talents, I for one would be extremely excited to watch him play at the Target Center next fall.
photo credit cbssports.com