ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

NBA: Timberwolves know who they’ll pick, but they’re not telling

By Andy GrederSt Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Timberwolves fans will have to wait until Thursday night to learn which player the team chooses as the first overall pick in the NBA draft. The near-consensus top pick is Kentucky freshman center...

By Andy Greder
St Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Timberwolves fans will have to wait until Thursday night to learn which player the team chooses as the first overall pick in the NBA draft.
The near-consensus top pick is Kentucky freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns, but Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said Wednesday there was no need to reveal the franchise’s first overall pick in its 26-year history.
“We have an idea,” Saunders said. “I think we feel really comfortable with the process that we’ve gone through.”
Then Saunders used one of his favorite examples as to why he won’t disclose whom the pick will be.
“Wilt Chamberlain got traded, Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) got traded; two of the best players in the world,” he said. “Something crazy can happen, so there is no reason to let it (be) known until you really have to.”
Saunders asked top draft prospects on visits to Minneapolis to blow him away in workouts, during the psychology evaluation and when they went out to dinner. The top three players - Towns, Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell - visited Minnesota last week.
Saunders told them, “Make it a tough decision for us to decide who is the best guy.”
Asked if that happened with the player the Wolves have circled, Saunders said simply, “Yeah.”
“We’re taking the best player that we feel has the best chance to be what we consider an all-star and superstar in this league,” he said.
The Wolves’ front office has been in a constant evaluation process since the first day of college basketball practices last season. They have had an ongoing internal debate on whom that superstar-caliber player could be.
“There’s still a little bit of back-and-forth,” Saunders said. “I think when you put together a staff, an organization, you never want anyone that really agrees with you.”
Longtime Wolves power forward Kevin Garnett was not among those involved in the evaluation process.
“He came by, watched guys work out,” Saunders said. “One, I wouldn’t put him in that situation. That wouldn’t be fair to him, being a player. And he didn’t want to be in that. He just wanted to see these guys and see them in person and see how they were and see how they reacted and that. He was impressed with everybody that he saw.”
Saunders said the “ultimate predictor” is putting the player through a workout that simulates what will be asked of them in NBA games.
“How they’re going to react to situations more so than how they reacted in college,” he said.
The Wolves also have the 31st and 36th picks in Thursday’s second round. The Wolves will be looking for backcourt help either in the draft, or in free agency in July.
“I believe that up front we’re pretty big,” Saunders said. “I think we’re pretty well set in letting some of our young guys develop. We’re looking more in the backcourt, and we’re looking for shooting. Those are probably the areas we’ll try to fill in in that second round.”
But everyone is looking at the first pick and at Saunders. He insists it has been the least-stressful draft process he’s been a part of “because we don’t have to worry about who’s taking anybody in front of us. We know that we make our decision who we want.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
What To Read Next
Hull was a five-time 50-goal scorer, led the NHL in goalscoring seven times, twice won the Hart Trophy and was voted a First-Team All-Star on the left wing 10 times.
Willmar beats the Minnesota Loons 9-6 on four 3rd-period goals
Willmar’s early 2-0 lead doesn’t hold up in 8-2 loss to Granite City