The June 20 NBA Draft is just over a week away and the Timberwolves should have plenty of options when it's their turn to make the 11th overall pick.
One name that popped up via Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler is Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura. Kyler says there's speculation that the Wolves may have promised Hachimura that they'll take him if he's still available.
The report from Kyler is a few weeks old, but it was again brought up in a June 11 mock draft from Sports Illustrated, meaning the rumor hasn't been put to bed.
"Rival teams have come to believe that Hachimura recently secured a promise in the late lottery, with suspicion centering on the Timberwolves. Hachimura skipped the combine, but did participate in his agency’s pro day at the end of May, dispelling the notion of a hard commitment at that point. In recent days, league-wide speculation has ramped up with regard to Minnesota. Hachimura is thought to be in play for Washington at No. 9, but this spot may well be his floor. He fills a positional need for the Timberwolves, possesses strong physical tools and has significantly more room to grow as a scorer."
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound 21-year-old averaged 19.7 points on 59.1% shooting (41.7% from 3) and 6.5 rebounds during his junior season at Gonzaga.
“Rui has improved every year and still hasn’t reached his ceiling,” an anonymous NBA assistant GM told The Undefeated in March.
“He has a good feel for the game and has shown versatility at both ends of the court. His playmaking and ballhandling will translate to the NBA. I still don’t trust his shot totally, but I think that it will improve with repetition and working with a solid player development coach. With the proper work ethic, he could eventually be a starter in the NBA.”
NBADraft.net's profile of Hachimura defines him as an above average athlete with good speed, endurance, leaping ability and great length with a 7'2''wingspan.
If Hachimura is the pick, the Wolves would have the option to pair the rookie or veteran Dario Saric at power forward next to Karl-Anthony Towns. Both Taj Gibson and Anthony Tolliver are unrestricted free agents and it would be a surprise if either returns to Minnesota.
Hachimura, however, might be better suited to play small forward in the NBA.
Wolves boss Gersson Rosas and NBA Draft history
Picking in the first round might be a refreshing experience for the 40-year-old president of basketball operations, who spent the past 16 years working alongside Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who had a knack for trading away first-round picks.
In fact, the Rockets don't have any picks in this year's draft and haven't selected in the first round since 2015. Who'd they take while Rosas was in Houston?
- 2005: Luther Head (24th)
- 2006: Rudy Gay (6th - traded to Memphis for Shane Battier)
- 2007: Aaron Brooks (26th)
- 2008: Nic Batum (25th - traded to Portland for Donte Green)
- 2010: Patrick Patterson (14th)
- 2011: Marcus Morris (14th), Nikola Mirotic (23rd)
- 2012: Jeremy Lamb (12th), Royce White (14th), Terrence Jones (18th)
- 2014: Clint Capela (25th)
- 2015: Sam Dekker (18th)
Capela was a great pick in 2014, and Lamb wasn't a bad choice in 2012 even though it took him years to develop into the player he is now with the Charlotte Hornets.
The best picks Houston made while Rosas was there were arguably Gay in 2006 and Batum in 2008, but both of those guys were sent packing in draft night trades that now look horrible.
The NBA Draft starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 20.