Category Archives: NBA Draft

INBOX: The 2014 NBA Draft Edition

Zach Lavine: Future Timberwolf?

Zach Lavine: Future Timberwolf?

The draft is tomorrow. It kind of snuck up on Punch-Drunk this year. Rather than micro-analyze each prospect’s interviews like last year, we haven’t paid the whole thing much attention at all.

I blame Kevin Love.

Anyway, we’ll dig into what we feel are the big questions facing the Wolves, and Wolves fans as we head into another NBA Draft – a draft that doesn’t promise to be memorable for the franchise, but certainly could be.

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INTEL REPORT: Magic at Timberwolves (The Season Opener Edition)

Orlando appears to be keeping its eyes on the prize this season: The 2014 NBA Draft

Orlando appears to be keeping its eyes on the prize this season: The 2014 NBA Draft

The Wolves open their season tonight in Minneapolis against the already-tanking-for-Wiggins hard-charging  Orlando Magic, who’re 0-1 after last night’s season-opener loss to Indiana.

(Eds. Note: Is there anyway to figure out how many fantasy teams there are this season named “Tanking for Wiggins” or some variant of it? I don’t know how many fantasy teams there are total, but I’d still take the over on at least 10k “Tanking for Wiggins” teams this year. Maybe 15.  There were probably fantasy league owners everywhere trying desperately to change their league rules at the last minute to allow them to use their auction money to bid on the rights to the “Tanking for Wiggins” team name instead of on draft-able  players.)

Anyway, there’s a lot of interesting stuff to watch for, much of which could provide information on the questions we asked in our season preview post about the team’s starting lineup, defense, offense, and rotations.

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How Adam Silver Dismissed Shabazz Muhammad from NBA Rookie Orientation

Always Be Closing – (1:00), NSFW depending where you work

Last night Andy G wrote about Michael Beasley’s latest drug-related arrest. Today, the NBA dismissed Wolves first-round pick Shabazz Muhammad from its Rookie Transition Program–an achievement shared by a select few. Yes, Mike Beasley is one of Shabazz’s compatriots in this exclusive club. [Eds. Note: Is Basketball Reference tracking this statistic yet? You can almost smell the bling for the petulant blogger who first exploits these ANALYTICS(!)].

Anyway, the story probably goes a little something like this:

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Assessing Shabazz Muhammad’s Summer League Performance

Shabazz Muhammad's Vegas Summer League results were mixed

Shabazz Muhammad’s Vegas Summer League results were mixed

From ESPN TrueHoop’s assessment of the Las Vegas Summer League’s top rookies, here’s Justin Verrier’s take on Shabazz Muhammad:

Shabazz Muhammad, Timberwolves
8.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 41 FG%, 38 3P%

lastname

Muhammad

The good: The fit is there. Muhammad has the build of your everyday athletic, break-you-off-dribble wing scorer, but he thrived at UCLA mostly in situations where he didn’t have to dribble — off the catch, running the break, posting up. And on a team like the Timberwolves, with a scorer/rebounder and ball handler as its two cornerstones, it’s those “other” areas where Muhammad will need to do his work.

Despite the lure always present at summer league to isolate everything, Muhammad primarily stuck to that script, floating around the arc and running off screens, and looked right doing so. His rebound numbers in Vegas were ho-hum, but he can be a great wing rebounder with his size, if he puts in the effort. He also shot 41.1 percent from 3, better than his college average (38 percent).

The bad: The production was not there. The 20-year-old (we hope) Muhammad averaged just 8.5 points on 41 percent shooting. Which isn’t awful. But when a player who lives off offense can’t produce, particularly against inferior competition, the deficiencies in the rest of his game become more noticeable. And in Muhammad’s case that’s his ambivalence toward passing (five total assists) and mediocre defense despite the tools to be pretty good.

Bottom line: Muhammad has a lot to work with, and you’re inclined to dismiss some of the disappointment to playing a defined and limited role, but it’s hard to write all that off after a drama-filled freshman season. That age stuff doesn’t matter anymore, but can he be happy with an even smaller role in snowy Minnesota than the one he griped about in Los Angeles?

— Justin Verrier

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It’s hard to argue with Verrier’s take. We know the following:

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Last Call…

for pre-draft scenarios and opinions.

Rapid-fire thoughts:

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Mock Draft, Part 2 (9-14)

If the Wolves draft Shabazz Muhammad, Flip won't have to ask for his longform

If the Wolves draft Shabazz Muhammad, Flip won’t have to ask for his longform

Eds. Note: This mock isn’t necessarily intended to predict what teams will do, but to spell out what WE would do at each pick. Some of that is likely to map onto what teams actually end up doing on Thursday, some isn’t. Part 1, which covered picks 1-8, is here.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA

Patrick J: If the draft were to unfold as we outlined it here, there won’t be any great options left for the Wolves at #9. That said, the Wolves need a shooter and scorer on the wing. Shabazz Muhammad is a shooter and scorer who plays the wing. Most fans hate Shabazz. They don’t like that his dad RON HOLMES (!) forged Shabazz’s birth certificate. They don’t like that Shabazz never collected any assists. They don’t like that Shabazz didn’t play well against the Gophers during the only game most of them probably saw Muhammad play all season long. Me, I don’t care about Shabazz’s age, his Daddy issues, his passing, or his putative attitude problems, which is (at this point) overblown since we don’t know beyond vague RUMINT that Shabazz has any attitude problems. What I do care about is obtaining a scorer who is taller than 6’1’’ and can score without being ball dominant. Shabazz does that in his sleep. He wouldn’t be a great fit for every team, but I think people are selling short the fit he could be on our team.

To close, I will quote RON HOLMES:

“Bazz is going to blow up in the NBA lets team up and blow this thing up!!!” Holmes wrote to a Times reporter in a text message. “I’m going to need a publicist anyway why shouldn’t it be you. We can do some big things together.”

Doesn’t that convince you?

(More of Ron’s Ruminations are here.)

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Mock Draft, Picks 1-8

Adam Silver will be rollin' phat on Draft night

Adam Silver will be rollin’ phat on Draft night

Eds. Note: This mock isn’t necessarily intended to predict what teams will do, but to spell out what WE would do at each pick. Some of that is likely to map onto what teams actually end up doing on Thursday, some isn’t.  

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1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Patrick J: I think the Cavs go with the conventional wisdom here. In a draft without a sure-thing superstar, you go with talent and size, especially when there’s a seven footer with potentially upper upper level shotblocking skills and defensive instincts.

Andy G: Can’t disagree, here. It’s not so much that NERLENS is can’t-miss as much as there’s probably not a sure thing anywhere in this draft and it’s pretty easy to see how his game carries over to modern NBA defense, often times built around roaming paint protectors.

Plus, that flat top.

Moving on…

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