This could be a defining week for Gersson Rosas and the Timberwolves, could be the week they look back on with pride or regret for the next 10 years.
If Rosas chooses wisely, this might be the last time in the foreseeable future the Wolves make the first selection in the NBA draft. After decades of complaining internally about bad luck, the Wolves are about to make their second No. 1 selection in six years.
To capitalize on this good fortune, Rosas needs to pick a player who will complement and elevate Towns and Russell, or act as an asset to bring the Wolves that kind of player in a trade.
It’s only fair that I first-guess the Wolves’ decision, since I’ll be second-guessing it for years.
Here are the three ways I believe the Wolves can ace a difficult test:
1. They should take Georgia guard Anthony Edwards with the first pick. No deals. No overthinking it. Unless…
2. They can trade him for a plug-and-play wing who can shoot the three and improve the Wolves’ defense. That would make sense, if such a deal exists, unless …
3. They can trade down, pick up an asset or two, and still get Edwards at the lower pick.
No. 3 is the goal, if they believe they can pull it off. No. 1 is the most likely. And No. 1 isn’t a bad place to end up after months of speculation — getting a chance to take the best player even in an uncelebrated batch of prospects.
Now let me second-guess myself.
When the Wolves secured the No. 1 pick, I thought LaMelo Ball would be ideal. He’s 6-7, can break down defenses, score in the lane and pass. I thought he’d be an ideal complement to Russell, giving the Wolves the ability to run and attack defenses in a variety of ways in their half-court offense.
Recently, a number of wise draft evaluators have been promoting Ball as the best player, or at least the most desirable No. 1 pick, in this draft class.
Now I think I was wrong and that the recent surge of Ball support is ignoring two major factors. Ball isn’t just a bad defender — he’s an apathetic defender. He doesn’t even try. While playing in a professional league and auditioning for the NBA draft, he spent his time on defense resting for his time on offense.
His shot mechanics are almost as bad as his defensive effort. Yes, it is possible that he could become a better shooter in time, but do you want to take a talented project at No. 1? And if he doesn’t care about defense, does he really care about winning?
Rosas has correctly said that when you have the No. 1 pick and are building a roster, you need to draft talent, not positional fit.
This year, the best fit is also quite talented, making this decision easier.
Edwards has the proverbial NBA body. He can score. He can punish smaller defenders. He, too, needs to improve his three-point shooting, but he is much less of a project in this regard than Ball.
He is willing and able to play defense, and his strength will be a major asset on defense in the NBA.
He would be an ideal fit in the Wolves’ offense and plays the same position as Malik Beasley, whose legal woes make him a difficult player in whom to invest big money.
James Wiseman could wind up being the best player in the draft, but he doesn’t want to play for the Wolves and the Wolves don’t want to play with two centers.
Edwards might be the best player in the draft. He is easily the best fit for the Wolves. He’s also the safest pick they could make.
Barring the right kind of trade, the Wolves should take Edwards and enjoy fielding a team on which the No. 1 pick doesn’t have to face the pressure of being a savior.
Towns, Russell, Edwards.
As Timberwolves fans know, a team could do worse.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org