The Minnesota Timberwolves currently do not have a pick in the 2021 NBA Draft later this month. Those both belong to the Golden State Warriors, via Minnesota’s trade for D’Angelo Russell in February 2020.
But that doesn’t mean the Wolves will be bystanders come draft night.
“Just because we don’t have a pick on whatever day today is doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a pick on draft night,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said.
Which is a big reason why the Timberwolves are holding in-market prospect workouts this weekend, which started Thursday, along with the Utah Jazz.
The Wolves, Rosas noted, have players on their roster who could net draft picks in return in a trade.
“We have opportunities to jump in the draft at very strategic levels, and that’s a testament to our players, the value they have around the league,” Rosas said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean we want to do it. We believe in our core and our group and we want to see them moving forward, but I’m not doing my job if I’m not being diligent and preparing for decisions on draft night.
“And if opportunities present themselves, whether it’s players become available or trades become available, you have to be educated to make those decisions, and that’s what this process is about, whether it’s first round, second round, whatever the case may be. We’re fortunate our staff has done a great job of working with agents, prospects and making sure we have all the information we need so we’re prepared on draft night.”
Hosting workouts that personnel from teams across the league will attend makes coming to Minnesota a worthwhile trip for prospects in this year’s draft. So it gets players in market in a year when they might not otherwise come. It’s not enticing to come work out for one team that doesn’t even own a pick at the moment.
Rosas said the Wolves have a “great relationship” with the Jazz. Conversations centering on these workouts have taken place over the course of more than a month, and once Minnesota officially lost its first-round pick on draft lottery night, plans were put into motion.
“We’ve got an incredible facility, an incredible setup with Mayo (Clinic Square) here, the opportunity to bring prospects in and physical them in our facility where we’re at. People want to come to Minneapolis during the summer,” Rosas said. “That made it a little bit easier for us with the Jazz and other teams.”
It doesn’t hurt the Wolves to have prospects come see the market and the facilities now. If they’re impressed, that could be a seed planted to potentially return to Minnesota years down the line.
And teams are jumping at the chance to hold more in-person evaluations this summer, after those opportunities weren’t afforded last summer during the heart of the pandemic.
“There’s been so much support for this combine, the opportunity to have another platform to see players as we prepare for the draft to be efficient with our work, not only us, but all the other teams that will be involved,” Rosas said. “These windows are important, and that we can do it live, not virtually … last year was difficult. It was fortunate we had more time, but it was difficult to do everything from Zoom platforms and to get everything second hand. These opportunities now will allow people to engage, interact and evaluate personally, which makes the process more effective for everyone.”
Rosas said there is “good talent” in this draft class — both at the very top, and in terms of the class’ overall depth.
“We’re gonna see that here this week in Minneapolis,” Rosas said. “This is the reason why we’ve done the combine here in Minneapolis. Because we want to make sure that we explore that as best as we can. And then, as you all know, the draft is one part of it, but players that go undrafted, players that go into your G-League team, players that go into the development pipeline, are incredibly important for every organization, especially now the way 2-ways (contracts) are being utilized. Now, we’re fortunate we have a Summer League again, so we can dive into players at that level. There’s a lot of work to be done. This draft has a lot of talent, and this combine will give us an opportunity to process that.”