MINNEAPOLIS (CBS Minnesota) — The Minnesota Timberwolves come into the 2019 NBA Draft with the 11th pick in the first round, and the 13th pick in the second round, which they acquired from the Miami Heat. A disappointing 2018-19 season, that Jimmy Butler prematurely derailed with his preseason trade request, put them squarely in lottery contention. And the odds, based on their 36-46 record, placed them about where they should be in the order of teams.
So what will the Wolves do on Thursday with their two picks? That is, if they do nothing before then.
Brandon Clarke out of Gonzaga might be available at 11. Clarke is a 6’8″ power forward who has a good feel for the game. Already 22 years old, the red-shirt junior is a quick, strong defensive player with a knack for blocking shots. He was willing to body up inside in college and also defend the perimeter, though expect him to play further from the basket in the NBA. Clarke also showed himself to be a strong rebounder. His offensive game lags behind his defensive game. A solid passer with a nice mid-range shot, he often needs to rely on his athleticism to get scoring opportunities.
Cam Reddish out of Duke could be available at 11 too. Going into the NCAA Tournament, Reddish was projected to be a possible top-five pick. And that was on a Blue Devils team that included two other likely top-five picks in Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. But the 6’8″ small forward was overshadowed down the stretch, and his stock has since dropped. He still has the makings of a prototypical 3-and-D swingman, but he also shot on 35.6% his freshman year and had a tendency to disappear at times. Inconsistency is common in young players, and Reddish is only 19 years old. But do the Timberwolves want to take a risk on another inconsistent player they hope will mature?
Rui Hachimura, who played with Clarke at Gonzaga, is also a possibility for the Timberwolves with the 11th pick. The 21-year-old junior will likely be the first ever Japanese first-round pick. Hachimura came into his own last season, averaging 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Bulldogs, while shooting 59.1% from the field. At 6’8″ and 230 pounds with a long wingspan, he has the body of an NBA forward and a motor that doesn’t quit. Hachimura has also vastly improved in his two seasons at Gonzaga.
The Timberwolves have some options with their first-round pick. And Clarke, Reddish or Hachimura could eventually fill out a lineup that already includes Karl-Anthony Towns, Robert Covington, Jeff Teague, and Andrew Wiggins. Unfortunately, the team also has more issues than one draft pick will fix. And each of their likely picks will need time to grow into the pro game.
Separate from the Draft (though related, for sure), the team needs to figure out what to do with Wiggins. That is, if they can do anything. The first overall pick from 2014 has hinted at greatness during his time in Minnesota, averaging 19.4 points per game over his career. But he hasn’t grown into the team leader the Timberwolves need him to be. The Wolves probably won’t be able to trade him, given the five-year $148 million extension he signed in 2017. Their best hope is that he starts to play up to potential.
The NBA Draft and free agency get more complicated by the day, so maybe Wiggins and the Timberwolves can factor in somehow. Otherwise, look for them to add another component come Friday.