Wolves Draft Review

GR3

The Wolves drafted Michigan Wolverine, Glenn Robinson III, with the 40th overall selection in Thursday’s draft.

So, on Thursday night the Wolves drafted Zach Lavine (Eds. Note: That’s how we spell it here.) and Glenn Robinson III with their first and second-round draft picks. Lavine infuriated fans with his alleged response to the Wolves selecting him. Robinson III looked happy to be selected at all. What to make of this?

Zach Lavine

Patrick J: I like the Lavine pick. As I argued before the draft, when you’re in the position the Wolves are in now, you go big or you go home. Zach Lavine may or may not turn out. That’s hardly the point. The Wolves are entering a period without Kevin Love. From that positition, you draft the guy you think has star potential–even when there are players who might help you more next season. (Ahem, Gary Harris, ahem.)

Britt Robson, reporting on the Wolves’ selection of Lavine, wrote this:

But the most significant thing Saunders said about choosing LaVine spoke to matters of context and ambition. “Sometimes you have to try and hit a home run. Some players that are ready-made, they are only going to be doubles hitters. This guy has an opportunity to be a home-run type player.”

That captures it pretty well. Does it mean I align with every idea the Wolves management has? No. But in this case, they made a defensible and possibly an unusually good pick.

Andy G: I’m not as bullish on LaVine as you are. He’s drafted to (basically) play shooting guard, yet he didn’t even average double figures in his lone college season at UCLA.

But some of that was due to playing time (he did average 15.4 points per 40 minutes) and he does have crazy enough athleticism to at least understand why the decision was made. Like Flip said, it’s a home run swing. I don’t necessarily have a problem with taking some of those, but it puts the pressure on the coach (in this case, Flip) and the organization to develop that talent. With the exception of Kevin Love and possibly Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad (too early to tell on Muhammad, for sure) this team has not succeeded in developing young players.

LaVine is the quintessential “project” pick. It’s up to Flip, Sam Mitchell, Sidney Lowe and the rest to teach LaVine how to use his God-given physical tools and play basketball at a high level. Where is Bill Bayno when you need him?

I’m ambivalent on the choice, because I was not high on the likely alternatives, such as Harris and Adreian Payne. If Dario Saric had fallen to 14 (he was drafted 12th) I would’ve preferred they draft him.

LaVine won’t contribute next year, but neither would’ve Harris. At least not in a winning sort of way. Rookies rarely help win NBA games, these days.

Glenn Robinson III

Andy G: It seems like most people liked this pick. I certainly did. GR3 has an NBA wing body and seemingly has the potential to be a rotation wing that can defend multiple positions. The key question is whether he can become a reliable standing three-point shooter. “Three and D” guys — particularly ones that master both skills early in their rookie-scale contract — have a lot of value. The Wolves, in recent years, have overpaid for the likes of Martell Webster, Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer. It would be nice to start drafting players of comparable value rather than spending 4 or 5 million bucks a year in free agency.

Robinson comes across as a true pro. To the extent a player can “win” a press conference, he won his intro presser.

Patrick J: I’m also high on Glenn Robinson III. I think he was a great value at #40.  See most of the reason I cited for Lavine at #13. Basically, Robinson is a nice, high-upside, pick at #40. He is a pro player, and a testament to the depth of this draft.

Robinson III is a good player.  He had solid college stats, and displayed excellent athleticism in the college combine: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Glenn-Robinson-7185/

I’ve long been enamored of Robinson III. He will be a good player from this draft. What will his role on the Wolves be? It’s hard to say. Corey Brewer currently stands in his way at the three.  And there is, well, the lingering issue of where Shabazz Muhammad stands at the three vis-a-vis Robinson. Methinks that Corey will stand in front of GRIII, at least for a while. It’ll end up being a matter of whether GRIII can demonstrate the equivalent of Corey’s defensive acumen, while at the same time doing more than Corey is capable of on offense–that is, essentially being Trenton Hassell 2.0. – being able to cover difficult wings, with help, while being able to make midrange jumpers in the flow of the offense,

Missed Opportunities?

Andy G: Not in my mind, but I’m no expert and admittedly didn’t pay as much attention to this year’s crop, outside of the Top 8-10 guys who seemed more exciting. Harris doesn’t excite me, but he might be a valuable contributor on both ends. If LaVine flames out of the league after 2 seasons and Harris has a 16 PER with good defense, clearly they blew a(nother) pick.

We’ll have to see.

Patrick J: Gary Harris, maybe. He was ranked ahead of Lavine in many mock drafts.  He’s more ready right now than Lavine. But I maintain that Lavine has the higher upside. I support this draft pick.

What is “the plan” here? Can we tell?

Patrick J:I don’t think we can really tell. There’s the indication that they’re in on a FULL REBUILD, evidenced that they went for Lavine when a Love trade still seems on the horizon. But, adding GRIIII—I think that means they’re choosing both to “swing for the fences” and to “improve the roster as possible.” Both picks add upside. However, both indicate that the Wolves are still hedging their bets, because they don’t know exactly what return they’ll get on K-Love. That’s probably a healthy perspective. It seems that no one knows what kind of return the Wolves will end up getting on K-Love.

Andy G: I have a theory.

LaVine is SUCH a project that I have a feeling that we’re going to see the Golden State Warriors trade for Kevin Love and Kevin Martin.

The (legitimate) fear among Wolves fans is that trading Love for Klay Thompson and David Lee (and hopefully Harrison Barnes) will stick the team in 30-40 wins per season mode; the dreaded “purgatory” that prevents a good rebuild without any winning fun along the way.

Drafting LaVine is like diversifying the portfolio. They can try to win as much as possible in the short term — even if it is only 32 or 33 games, next year — and have a home run swing like LaVine being developed in the D-League and in practice for the next year or two. If he can cash in on his physical potential (the way Garnett started to, toward the end of his rookie year) they’ll begin to find places for him in the rotation and go from there.

If not, maybe they take another home run swing in next year’s draft. (!)
Anyway, that’s my take on it. It was a pretty boring draft to me, mostly because the Wolves kept Love and didn’t trade at all in the first round.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Wolves Draft Review

  1. Nathan Anderson

    To stretch the baseball (metaphor/analogy/simile): Yes, picking Lavine is like a home run swing. But it seems more like a homerun swing at a slider in the dirt (pointless) rather than a homerun swing at a fastball (likely productive). To the unpracticed observer, a slider and a fastball look the same. However, as the slider approaches the plate it begins to break and become unhittable. Yet a practiced hitter, with deep knowledge of the pitcher, may be able to spot the slider by the grip the pitcher is using, the angle of his arm, or the rotation of the ball as it approaches the plate.

    I’m worried that Flip sees fastball when he’s been thrown a slider. Thus, he’ll take his homerun swing, but end up on his butt, having struck out.

    Lavine’s athleticism makes him look like a fastball. But, maybe there is something that indicates it is a mirage. For example, if we look closer, Layne Vashro has pointed out, Lavine did not (could not?) get to the basket in the half court and when he did get there he could not finish. That is against college athletes. It will not get easier. Does that indicate that Lavine is a slider rather than a fastball? More importantly, has Flip even considered these data in making the pick?

    In other words, a home run swing, by itself, is kinda dumb. You have to know what you are swinging at. Does Flip know?

    • Well, it was the 14th pick in the draft. There was no easy homerun swing like when the Pelicans drafted Anthony Davis.

      I would’ve been fine had the Wolves reached for Kyle Anderson based on the metrics. The concerns would’ve been defense and whether he can command the same type of role in the NBA that he had in college. (The Royce White Question, that – in Royce’s case – may never be answered.)

      With LaVine, it’s whether they can run him through a Fundamentals Camp of sorts, and teach him how to play basketball at a professional level. Flip was in charge when they did that with Garnett, and he has a lot of experience in the CBA, so I don’t dismiss him in this area the way some others might. LaVine will play D-League games next year, and that should help.
      it is a risk, sure.

      • Nathan Anderson

        13th pick. 😉

        I have no problem taking a risk at 13. My question is whether it is an informed risk. I don’t know the answer.

        I don’t know anything about cards. I’ve played blackjack once in my life at a casino and the rest of the table was horrified and begged me to leave because I was so dumb that I was screwing everyone else.

        If I sit down at a blackjack table I am taking a risk and could win big. But it is not an informed risk. If I am going to gamble, I have a better chance winning money in some other game that I know more about.

        I worry that Flip sees LaVine and picked him for no other reason than he jumps high, he leaned forward in an interview, and he can dribble with both hands. That would be Flip taking on risk, but in an uninformed way.

        Hopefully flip fully understands the risk he is taking.