We’re now just a week away from the 2020 NBA Draft, and there might not be another team appearing in the headlines more often than the Minnesota Timberwolves. After landing the first overall pick in this year’s draft via the lottery back in August, there have been trade winds blowing around in Minnesota ever since, and they’ve all been centered around the first overall pick.
The first overall slot is typically the most coveted position in the NBA Draft, but this year is different. With no teams seeing LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, or James Wiseman as true first overall pick material, many teams would rather just stand pat, rather than giving up assets to move-up to number one just to select a guy they don’t believe is first overall pick worthy. This situation is very unique, as it’s rare to see a first overall pick with such low value. At least in my eyes, Minnesota clearly wants to trade this pick. They’ve been attempting smoke screens recently in order to pressure organizations into a trade-up, but nothing seems to be sticking to the wall at this point in time. With all this being said, today I’m here to break down the situation and give you my opinion on what Minnesota should do with the number one overall pick in this year’s draft.
First Overall Pick Candidates: The Big Three
When it comes to players that could be selected first overall in this year’s draft, there’s three realistic options: LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman. Now, these guys definitely aren’t the top three in my eyes. From the perspective of many front offices, any player outside of those three going first overall would be seen as a reach, and they would be better off trading down at least a spot or two in order to select a player not in “The Big Three.” With all this being said, let’s take a look at these three players and how they fit with Minnesota.
In my eyes, LaMelo Ball is the best prospect of these three. He’s a 6’7” point guard with elite vision, great finishing ability, and the tools/potential to be a great defender and a solid shooter, although progress has to be made in those areas. Selecting LaMelo first overall is solid value if you ask me, but I’m not a fan of his fit in Minnesota. LaMelo is a terrible fit alongside D’Angelo Russell, and the Timberwolves don’t have the necessary culture to untap LaMelo’s defensive upside and improve upon his shooting. Although I do believe Ball will mature in the NBA as he spends less time with LaVar, similar to how Lonzo did, it is still important that he lands in a good situation in order for him to untap his potential and to become worthy of a first overall pick. Considering Minnesota’s poor culture and his terrible fit alongside D’Lo, I don’t love LaMelo to Minnesota at number one.
Minnesota taking James Wiseman in this draft, let alone first overall is very unlikely, but he’s still a part of “The Big Three” nonetheless. Wiseman is a high floor-high ceiling guy. At worst, he becomes an average rim running center. At best, he becomes one of the best centers in the NBA. With this being said, I believe he’s easily the worst prospect of these three, and he’s terrible value and a terrible fit at first overall for Minnesota. Wiseman has already stated that he doesn’t want the Timberwolves to take him, and they’ve already got Karl Anthony-Towns anyway. And as I said, terrible value here. Wiseman is nowhere near a first overall type prospect, and I can name over a handful of prospects I’d take over him in this draft.
If Minnesota does keep the first overall pick, Edwards is the guy I believe the T-Wolves will take. Although I believe LaMelo Ball is a better prospect, along with a couple other guys (with that being said, they are outside this big three), Edwards is still solid value at number one considering this year’s class, and he’s the best fit for Minnesota. He’s a freakish athlete with a great build and an impressive scoring arsenal. He’s got sky high potential to become a lethal two-way threat, but there are questions about his mindset, playmaking, defense, and ability to contribute to winning basketball. If I were Minnesota, and I had to take either Ball, Wiseman, or Edwards, I’m going with Edwards. But before we go too far, let’s pump the breaks, because I still don’t love this. Similar to LaMelo, I have questions about Minnesota’s culture and their ability to untap Edwards potential, and although they could use a wing, his playstyle isn’t an ideal fit. The Timberwolves could use more of a 3&D wing rather than a guy who’s fairly ball dominant and score first. Edwards can definitely grow, and if he can develop into a star, that wouldn’t hurt at all, but I still don’t adore this for Minnesota.
What Should The Timberwolves Do With The First Overall Pick?
I can’t stress this enough: The value of the first overall pick isn’t very high this year. It’s exactly why despite multiple attempts to trade this pick over the past couple of months, Minnesota continues to find themselves unsuccessful in finding any takers for this pick. Now, just because Minnesota has the first overall pick, that doesn’t mean they’re permitted to take someone from “The Big Three” with that pick. But, as I said before, they would be better off trading down a bit to get someone outside of Edwards, Ball, or Wiseman, even if it were just a spot or two. Guys such as Tyrese Haliburton, Devin Vassell, and Aaron Nesmith are all guys the Timberwolves could really like towards the mid-to-late lottery. You even look at guys like Saddiq Bey and Tyrese Maxey who could potentially be available around 17 for them, or there’s guys like Onyeka Okongwu and Deni Avdija who wouldn’t be bad fits, and those are guys they could trade down just a spot or two for and snag. Hell, Minnesota could trade down a spot or two and still have a good shot at selecting a guy like Anthony Edwards who is probably the best option for them out of “The Big Three.” Hey, what about just trading the pick for a player that could help them win now that’s already in the league? I constantly hear names such as Ben Simmons, Devin Booker, Victor Oladipo, and Jrue Holiday just to name a few. Minnesota has a lot of different paths they can take with this pick, but these paths are either not ideal, or they seem to be blocked off as Scott Layden and his crew struggle to find reasonable compensation for this pick.
Selecting a guy like Anthony Edwards first overall isn’t a bad choice, it’s just not a great one either. Minnesota wants to trade down or trade the pick for a win-now player, and I completely agree with that thought process. If I were the Timberwolves, I would rather trade down a few spots in the draft to snag an extra asset and then select a guy like Tyrese Haliburton in a perfect world. However, it keeps coming back to the fact that the Timberwolves can’t find any worthy compensation for this pick. With rumors coming out that Charlotte wants Wiseman at three and the Warriors like Ball at two, the Timberwolves have attempted smokescreens saying they are interested in those guys at number one overall in an attempt to pressure those organizations into feeling they need to trade up in order to get their guy. So far, no one’s taken the bait. With just a week to go until the NBA Draft, the clock is ticking on Scott Layden and this front office to make a move, but it is imperative that the Timberwolves continue to keep their foot on the gas and their eyes on the road. All hope isn’t lost, as a lot can happen in a week, especially when we all know things are about to hit the fan with the draft right around the corner, and amidst all that madness could finally be worthy compensation for the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.