The NBA draft is two days away and Kevin Love is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. After Love-related trade talks heated up last week, those talks have stalled over the past few days. With that being said, here are a few players I think the T’Wolves should strongly consider once they are on the clock Thursday night.
I think one player with the highest upside in this draft is UCLA’s Zach LaVine. LaVine finished up his freshman season at UCLA as predominantly a bench player. He averaged 9.4 points per game last season in 24.4 minutes per game. His rebound, assist, and steal stats don’t jump off the table by any means, but he is an absolute athletic freak. His is thin and wiry, 6’5 and 185 pounds, but with a 6-foot-10 inch wingspan. His open-court finishing ability is absolutely amazing, and he is a “quick” jumper, meaning he doesn’t need more than a split second to get off the floor. He struggles defensively and making plays, but if he was to play with Ricky Rubio, he wouldn’t have a lot of pressure on him to make plays because Rubio is one of the best set-up guys in the NBA. His jumper is nicer than what scouts have said or reported. He shot 37.5 percent from three, and took 128 attempts this season. While LaVine is still young (19), he has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft five years down the road. I really like his athleticism and I think if he channels his focus into becoming a solid all-around player, he could become a max-contract player in the future. He is really exciting. Here is a video of his athleticism Zach LaVine dunks (video by CityLeagueHoopsTV, I don’t take credit for the video). He makes it look way too easy. He reminds me of Russell Westbrook, but a little less ferocious.
Another player I have had my eyes on over the past nine months is LaVine’s UCLA teammate: Kyle Anderson. In my eyes, he is one of the most versatile basketball players I’ve seen since Scottie Pippen. His length and height (6-9) remind me of Pippen and he isn’t “skinny”; he is 230 pounds. Anderson just finished up his sophomore season at UCLA, and had a tremendous season, but got overlooked, somewhat, because of the hype of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. He averaged 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game and shot 48 percent from the field. He was clearly UCLA’s best player and best playmaker, something the Timberwolves could use. However, he is a little too big to be a point guard, the position he mainly played at UCLA. The T’Wolves have Corey Brewer as their starting small forward, and I think Anderson could be either his backup or even replace him in the starting lineup. Anderson isn’t a flashy player, just a good basketball player.
Nik Stauskas is the shooter that all mock boards have the T’Wolves taking. I was impressed with Stauskas when I had the chance to watch him this year. His off-the-dribble game has gotten better but still needs work. Playing with Rubio will only help Stauskas. He has good size (6 feet six inches and 207 pounds) and mobility for a two-guard. He shot 44.2 percent from three this season and averaged 17.5 points three rebounds and 3.3 assists. I don’t think he is a tremendous defender, which doesn’t help the T’Wolves because they were abysmal on defense last season. From the reports I have read, I think Stauskas should be a “if-all-else-fails” choice on Thursday night. He reminds me of a more athletic Kyle Korver, but not by much more athletic.
I’ll have more to come.