Draft Targets for the Timberwolves

Take a look who the Timberwolves should target with the 20th overall pick.

The draft is full of opportunities. Teams early in the draft are looking for that cornerstone piece to build around while teams later in the draft are looking for that missing piece that can take them to the next level. Historically, the Timberwolves have been active participants in the previous group but after having their best season since the Kevin Garnett era, they need to find that missing piece that can help make them serious Western Conference contenders. This next year is going to be huge for the Timberwolves. Jimmy Butler is entering the last year of his contract, Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t seem all in on the franchise, Andrew Wiggins needs to prove that he deserves his new contract, and Tom Thibodeau needs to learn how to manage a rotation. Despite having the leagues fourth highest offensive rating, the Timberwolves are in desperate need of outside shooting and bench depth. This year’s draft is deep with versatile wings that will be able to help the Timberwolves. With the 20th pick here are some of the top prospects that the Timberwolves should be targeting.

Jacob Evans

Evans is a mature wing that has shown constant improvement throughout his entire career at Cincinnati and projects as a ready-to-play versatile wing. Despite his lack of pure athleticism, he is still one of the most impressive defenders in this draft. His top level footwork and instincts make it a nightmare for opponents to beat him off the dribble or create any shooting space for that matter. When those fundamentals are then combined with his intense work rate and desire to destroy opponents, he quickly turns into one of the most impressive wing defenders in this draft. Contrary to most defensive-minded wings, Evans also is a threat on offense. He found a lot of success as a spot-up shooter and made it clear that expanding to the NBA range won’t be an issue.

Evans has had to overcome his lack of explosive athleticism to become a very effective wing but it could limit him in the NBA. This lack of explosiveness keeps him below the rim when attacking and has given him a rather slow first step off the dribble. He will struggle to create his own scoring opportunities due to his sloppy ball handling and low release point which will essentially negate any threat of shooting off the dribble.

Kevin Huerter

Huerter may be the best shooter in this draft. After having a very impressive combine, Huerter flew up draft boards. He has a knack of drifting to the open space on the wing for an open three off of a kick-out pass. He confuses his defender and leads them into the screener when running off-ball. So often when running through screens the shooter is forced to take an off-balanced attempt. Huerter has the rare ability to stabilize his body and square up mid-air to turn a questionable shot into a likely made bucket. All year, and especially at the combine, Huerter displayed a very impressive feel for the game. I know that this is an overused phrase but can be very clear when watching someone play. Huerter knows that he is a deadly shooter and uses that to bait opponents into aggressive closeouts. Instead of forcing the shot up, he quickly attacks the rim where he can finish with either hand. The more impressive trait though is his ability to pass out of these drives. He has an impressive passing vision and is willing to kick the ball out to an open teammate for a three.

The biggest concern with Huerter moving forward is his slender frame. This has consequences on offense because defenders will be able to bully him off the ball. It also greatly limits him defensively. On defense, he plays hard and isn’t afraid to challenge an opponent, but struggles to keep up purely based on his size and athleticism.

Khyri Thomas

Even though Thomas is only 6’3 he will be able to defend any position with an unrivaled intensity. He actively hounds his opponent on the perimeter using his lateral quickness to stay between the ball and the hoop at all times. The only point in running him through screens is to try and tire him out because he closes out hard, sees the passing lane before the offense, and loves turning good defense into quick offense. NBA teams are switching more and more on defense which won’t be an issue for Thomas. His athleticism and intensity give pause to perimeter players while his length and lower body strength allow him to battle with the big men. Thomas has also shown his versatility on offense. He is a strong spot-up shooter from outside and is a creative finisher at the rim after running off of screens or cutting back door.

This year Thomas played more of the primary ball handler role but he still has a lot of work to do. His ball handling needs to become much tighter. This limits his ability to shoot off the dribble or create his own shot. Even though he is a good passer, he often telegraphs where he is going with it.

Troy Brown

Brown is one of the most intriguing wings at this point in the draft. He has a strong frame that is combined with a very high basketball IQ. Offensively he almost always makes the right play. He is a crafty cutter, a good passer who moves the ball well, and doesn’t force shots. His basketball IQ shines on defense as well. He is a good team and individual defender. He is an excellent communicator, makes the right rotations, and can switch onto almost anyone.

Even though Brown has shown flashes of shooting, he has a lot of work to do on his jumper. His form is segmented and lacks the fluidity seen from successful shooters. His footwork is sloppy and his release represents more of a launching motion. If Brown is able to develop his shot he could turn into a valuable wing.

The Timberwolves are in need of wing depth that can offer shooting and defense. Luckily for them, this draft is full of versatile wings full of potential. Huerter’s shooting, Thomas’s two-way impact, Evans’s maturity, and Brown’s versatility can all help the Timberwolves win now and take the next step.

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