Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NBA Draft Chatter

The NBA Draft is Thursday night, and to say that this is a pivotal draft for the Minnesota Timberwolves would be an extreme understatement. The franchise is coming off a 24-win season, just fired their coach, and needs something big to keep the interest in this team from sliding into apathy. With three picks in the first round Thursday, the Wolves are in a position to get the ship turned in the right direction.

NBA.com has a list of consensus top 14 picks, and the player the Timberwolves are most commonly linked with at #6 is Memphis guardTyreke Evans. Other names surfacing there include Davidson guard Stephen Curry, Connecticut big man Hasheem Thabeet, USC forward Demar DeRozan, Arizona State guard James Harden, UCLA guard Jrue Holiday, and Italian league guard Brandon Jennings.

Thabeet will almost certainly be gone by the 6th pick - it's thought that Memphis really likes him at #2. Also, DeRozan canceled his workout for the Wolves with an "illness." The only names which show up more than once on the experts' mock drafts are Evans and Curry, so we'll take a look at both players.

Evans is a 6-6, 220 lb. guard who played one season for John Calipari at Memphis. He averaged 17.1 points for the Tigers, shooting 45% from the floor and 27% from beyond the arc. He was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, was National Freshman of the Year as voted by various outlets, and was a finalist for the Wooden Award. He has big-time scoring ability and is viewed as a great ball-handler.

Curry played three seasons at Davidson College and displayed his scoring ability on a national stage in the last two NCAA Tournaments. He averaged over 25 points a game for his career, and led the country last season with 28.6 on 45% from the floor and 39% from three-point range. His strength is scoring, and, unlike some other premium scorers in past drafts (Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick) can create his own shots.

This franchise needs some energy and excitement, and either of these two players will provide just that. Curry's the more recognizable of the two, but both seem to fit in nicely with the returning core of Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Kevin Love, Ryan Gomes, and Corey Brewer. Foye's presence will make an interesting side story should either Evans or Curry be drafted, as all three would seemingly play the same off-guard position. Still, with the Timberwolves in their current state, their needs are great, and they are truly in the position of having to pick the best player available, regardless of need.

Still hoping for a trade up to #3 to draft Ricky Rubio, but my hopes are fading.......

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