The NBA season is officially over, and it appears the Golden State Warriors are on the verge of a dynasty with the trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.
But that shouldn’t stop NBA organizations from trying their best to field a competitive product. Between injuries and players going through slumps, anything is possible.
The NBA Draft is June 22. For some teams, it’s about adding a player or two to an already talented roster. For others, it’s a chance to find your future star that you can build a franchise around.
The Timberwolves think they already have two of those pieces in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They have other valuable players on the roster in Gorgui Dieng and Zach LaVine, especially if he makes a recovery from his knee injury. Minnesota has the No. 7 pick in the NBA Draft, so what will they do with it? Honestly, a lot of that depends on what the organization feels is the future of guard Ricky Rubio, who has been in the center of trade rumors for months.
Here are four options for the Timberwolves with the No. 7 selection.
Trade The Pick
There is a very real possibility that the No. 7 pick could be part of a package deal to another team to acquire a veteran player. Whether that’s a point guard or a player in another position of need, nobody really knows. But the reality facing the Timberwolves is that they don’t have a point guard with a “score first” mentality. To win in the NBA and do so consistently, you must have a point guard who is a threat to score in key situations late in games. Rubio simply isn’t that player, he never has been and he probably never will be. Teams sag off him defensively late in games, because they know he’s not a scoring threat.
If you package No. 7 and Rubio, you can probably get a veteran point guard. Or you can get another veteran player, and give more minutes to Tyus Jones, Kris Dunn and LaVine. All three can handle the ball, and Jones and LaVine are willing to take the shots when they’re open.
Jonathan Isaac (Florida State Small Forward)
Jonathan Isaac is a small forward out of Florida State and is a potential match-up nightmare on the court for an opposing defense. He’s listed at 6-10 and 210 pounds, and he can shoot from the perimeter. He shot just less than 35 percent from three-point range for the Seminoles last season. He’s also not afraid to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. That’s right, a near 7-footer who can dribble.
If he develops, he can turn into a player like Kevin Durant. But it will take time, and probably a lot of it. It’s doubtful Isaac will be an immediate impact player, but he’s a ridiculous athlete who will make the team that drafts him better.
Justin Jackson (North Carolina Small Forward)
Justin Jackson helped lead North Carolina to the national championship last season, and his skill set is incredible for a player of his length at 6-8 and size. He got better in each of his three seasons with the Tar Heels, and he has a great basketball IQ. He seems to know what play to make in every situation, and he’s able to find every open spot on the floor when he’s in a situation to score.
He’s a streaky shooter, but is athletic enough that he can get by defenders with a shot fake and either score at the rim or find an open teammate. He could be an extremely dangerous weapon alongside Towns. And put him out there defensively with Towns and Dieng, and that’s all kinds of disruptive length in the lane.
Zach Colllins (Gonzaga Center)
Zach Collins was one of the most consistent players Gonzaga had last year on their run to the national championship game, an eventual loss to North Carolina. He’s an athletic post player who can get virtually anywhere on the floor, and he can run in transition. While probably not a top-10 worthy pick, he’d be a valuable back-up center for the Timberwolves behind Dieng.
Collins shot 65 percent from the field last year and better than 47 percent from three-point range, albeit a small sample size. He’s not an immediate impact player, but the Timberwolves wouldn’t need him to be as long as Dieng stays healthy and out of foul trouble.
Until we know what the future holds for Rubio, it’s unlikely to know what approach the Timberwolves will take to the draft. Fans will be hoping they don’t take a point guard, since they already have four of them and their draft history has been less than successful there. Yes, the Timberwolves passed on Steph Curry not once, but twice, for Jonny Flynn. He’s no longer in the NBA.