Sunday, June 26, 2011

Timberwolves Post-Draft Musings and the Next Steps

By Joey Cavalier

The dust is finally settling on the Timberwolves' draft, giving me a chance to catch my breath and sort things out. Draft night for the Wolves started with the team selecting Derrick Williams at No. 2, and ended with a bullet storm of trades executed by the mad scientist, David Kahn.

The Wolves absolutely did the right thing in selecting D-Will. The kid is excited to play for the Wolves (which makes him one of a kind), and he possesses as much skill and potential as any prospect in this year's draft class.

The ensuing trades were almost impossible to follow, but when it was all said and done, the Wolves ended up with several cash considerations and a player that could have easily went in the first round, Malcolm Lee. The UCLA product is a legitimate perimeter defender who can shut down either guard position. Additionally, he has good vision and can play either the 1 or the 2 (though he is more of a natural shooting guard at 6’5").

Overall, I have to give Kahn a B+ for his draft night performance. He would have gotten an A if he had drafted Marshon Brooks and/or shipped out scrubs like Wayne Ellington and Martell Webster via savvy trades. But a B+ grade is good nonetheless, and I have to credit Kahn for not panicking and giving away the No. 2 pick for a large, three-item pizza topped with expiring contracts…

So, now that the draft is over, the biggest question for the Timberwolves is this: Where do we go from here? Well, the first step is to get rid of the bench baggage in order to acquire veteran role players and leaders/mentors. Kahn has said that he would like to add key veterans to the roster who can help groom the young players and contribute in clutch moments in games. The only way this can be done effectively is if players like Webster, Ellington, and Nikola Pekovic are moved to create minutes and locker space for the incoming vets. Kicking Jonny Flynn to the curb was an encouraging start.

The next step is to find a new coach, as Kurt Rambis failed miserably on multiple levels. He didn't develop the young talent, he refused to take ownership of the team’s struggles, he tried to shove a bogus (for this roster) system down the team's throat, his rotations were baffling, and he seemed detached, dazed and even disinterested at key moments during games. Assuming reports are true and Rambis is on his way out, the Wolves need to find someone to develop the young talent and improve in the win column. Sam Mitchell seems like a logical candidate, but the University of Washington's Lorenzo Romar appears to be Kahn's top choice for what might be the league's worst coaching position. Romar's probably a long shot, and Kahn has even pursued Coach K, so only time will tell.

Once a coach is selected, his job will be to define, develop and commit.

This new coach must define the roles of the young talent. Starters need to know they're starters. Stars need to know they're expected to be stars (Ricky Rubio?). Supporting pieces need to understand their place in the grand scheme of things.

This new coach must develop the plethora of young talent that exists on the roster. The team is filled with potential stars who need to be chiseled into professionals.

Finally, the organization needs to commit to players for the long road. They cannot just keep adding “talent” to the team and expect to improve. Without committing to key players, there's no stability. The Wolves are in dire need of stability.

Rambis failed to define, develop and commit. Unless the next coach can succeed in these areas, the Wolves will continue to be a punchline for NBA writers and commentators.

This will indeed be a long offseason (especially with the impending lockout), and the Wolves' organization has its work cut out for them. But with Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Rubio and Williams on roster, the future has a chance of being really, really bright.


  1. great post joey! gets me pumped to watch some wolves this year!!!

  2. Those trades were definitely hard to follow, i thought i had heard we also ended up with some 27 year old guy from Qatar that wasnt even eligible.