What exactly did the Wolves get with Jarrett Culver and Jaylen Nowell in the NBA Draft?
For starters, Culver was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and Nowell was the Pac-12 Player of the Year. That's a good start, but doesn't necessarily translate to success in the NBA.
At this point in the summer, it's a mystery as to what roles both players will have as rookies.
What positions will they play?
Culver is just shy of 6-foot-7 with shoes on and has a wingspan of nearly 6-foot-10, according to his combine measurements. He's listed as a shooting guard but has the size to mix in at small forward on the offensive end, and might have the ability to guard the 2, 3 and 4 on the defensive end of the floor.
He definitely projects as a 3-and-D player in the NBA, with an ability to drive and finish when needed.
Nowell is just 6-foot-4 so he'll be a small 2-guard in the NBA. He was often the lead guard in college, so maybe the Wolves have plans of trying to develop him into a scoring point guard. Defensively, he's a bit undersized and is coming to the NBA after playing in a zone defense in college. That'll definitely be a work in progress.
How will they fit into the rotation?
The Wolves have put together a roster loaded with wings but still lack depth at point guard and in the frontcourt.
- PG: Jeff Teague, Tyus Jones
- SG: Josh Okogie, Jarrett Culver, Jaylen Nowell, Jared Terrell
- SF: Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, C.J. Williams
- PF: Kieta Bates-Diop, Cam Reynolds
- C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng
Teague, who has one year and $19 million left on his deal, could still be traded before the season begins. If that happens, Wolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas will undoubtedly have a plan to bring in an established point guard via free agency or sign-and-trade (D'Angelo Russell).
Either that or Tyus Jones is handed the keys to the starting point guard job with Nowell behind him, but that seems unlikely.
How head coach Ryan Saunders blends playing time between Okogie, Culver, Wiggins and Covington is going to be interesting. He could go with a small lineup and have three of the four on the floor together, but that would force Culver or Covington to match up with a power forward. It's doable, but rebounding would probably be an issue.
Rosas is on record saying he's planning for the long haul. He entered the draft with an open mind, not really thinking about positional depth for the short term.
“You don’t know what your roster’s going to look like in three or four years,” he said before the draft. “You don’t know what your needs are going to be. For us, our ability to acquire the best talent is our focus and that’s what we’re looking to execute on.”
It's that kind of thinking that leads to speculation that more moves are coming. We'll see.
What's Rosas think of the rookies?
Rosas can't comment on Culver because he's technically a member of the Phoenix Suns until July 6. Yes, the Wolves traded up to get him, but because the NBA has stupid rules, nothing about Culver and Minnesota is official until a wacky moratorium period is over.
Rosas did speak highly of Nowell.
“He’s a very versatile player. He’s a guy that very early in his career has accomplished a lot,” said Rosas, via Timberwolves.com. “His productivity from the perimeter as a versatile player, as a combo guy who also defends with his size and physical tools, was very intriguing for us.”
Culver and Nowell are workout warriors
Culver actually went to a gym to get in a workout after the NBA Draft late Thursday night, while Ball is Life recently profiled Nowell as a player with legit leadership skills and a desire to improve all facets of his game all the time.
Maybe two guys whose motors never stop will light a fire under Wiggins, whose laid-back nature often draws criticism.
Exploring ways to get D'Angelo Russell from Brooklyn
Purely speculation here, but if you had the chance to deal Jeff Teague's contract to the Nets along with Culver, Okogie or Covington in a sign-and-trade for point guard D'Angelo Russell, would you do it?
Russell, a restricted free agent, is a 23-year-old All-Star who might be headed out of Brooklyn. According to the New York Post, Russell will be out of Brooklyn if the Nets are able to sign Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in free agency, which begins July 1.
But the Post says that if the Nets can't get Irving and Durant, they might elect to hold steady and match any offer Russell receives.
If the report is accurate, it means Minnesota's chances of trading for Russell are reliant on two superstars choosing Brooklyn within the next couple of weeks.
Brooklyn would also probably have to pay Irving and Durant $70+ million in 2019-20, so they'd need to trade other contracts to make room for the $19 million Teague would cost.
Throwing out a crazy idea for Andrew Wiggins
Rosas comes from Houston where James Harden thrives as a score-first point guard. Why not give Andrew Wiggins an opportunity to run the point?
I know what you're thinking: This guy is an idiot for thinking Wiggins can run point.
You're probably right because Wiggins can't shoot it like Harden, nor does he have the ability to handle the ball like Harden, much less any guard in the NBA. But Wiggins has always looked comfortable bringing the ball up the floor.
Rosas is on record saying he's going to invest every resource and give Wiggins the tools to maximize his talent. I don't think it's insane to think he'd be best suited bringing the ball of the court, driving to the rack and finishing in explosive fashion or kicking the ball out to shooters on the wing.
Wiggins and KAT in a pick-n-roll game? I'm all for giving it a try.