The NBA draft lottery is finally behind us and history once again repeated itself as the Minnesota Timberwolves dropped one spot in the draft order, to No. 11 overall.
While the Wolves didn’t capture one of the coveted top-three picks, at least we now know where they will pick in the first round (Minnesota also owns the No. 43 overall pick in the second round).
At their spot in the draft, the Wolves will have plenty of choices … and mock drafters prove that point. In mock drafts put out after the lottery, there is no consensus on who Minnesota might pick. A big man or guard? Project or immediate impact? There’s a wide range of opinion. In all, 11 different players were mocked to Minnesota in the first round, with three players in particular being favorites.
We’ve gone around the web and compiled as many up-to-date mock drafts as we could find. We’ll be back again as time moves on closer to the draft to see if these projections have changed.
Until then, here’s our first roundup of mocks for the Minnesota Timberwolves:
Jeremy Woo of SI.com: Round 1 — Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina. “It’ll be curious to see which direction the Timberwolves go in their first draft with Gersson Rosas at the helm, and as they try to fit the right pieces around Karl-Anthony Towns. Little is an upside play who comes off a somewhat disappointing freshman season, but brings solid athletic tools to the table. There’s a degree of optimism shared by some teams about Little’s personality and work ethic, one which makes him a more appealing long-term project. He has a ways to go before getting up to speed, but athletic wings with his body type and physical ability aren’t easy to find.”; Round 2 – Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky.
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke. “Reddish projected as a top-five pick in the preseason, which suggested Duke was likely to become the first team in history to have three players selected in the top five of the same NBA Draft. But that now seems like an unlikely scenario considering the lackluster and wildly inconsistent freshmen year Reddish just played. The 6-8 forward only shot 35.6% from the field and 33.3% from 3-point range — and the fact that he missed an NCAA Tournament game for questionable reasons did nothing to eliminate the concern in some circles that Reddish’s passion for the game maybe isn’t where it ought to be.”
Jeff Goodman of Stadium: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech. “Alexander-Walker is a multi-faceted guard with size who can shoot it, has the ability to make people around him better and also brings some toughness to the court. The T-Wolves have KAT and Andrew Wiggins, but could certainly use another wing who can make shots from deep.”
Chris Stone of The Sporting News: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga. “This might be a touch high for Clarke, but the fit is attractive. He’ll be able to contribute in a low-usage offensive role centered around garbage buckets while Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns eat up possessions. On the defensive end, Clarke’s versatility, athleticism and basketball IQ should shine. He’s probably the best defender in the class, and Minnesota badly needs to make improvements on that end if it expects to start making runs at the playoffs.”
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic ($): Round 1 — Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, Limoges (France). “Out of the international class, the multi-dimensional 6-foot-9 18-year-old originally from Guinea certainly looks to hold the most long-term value. … Overall, I’m encouraged that Doumbouya has figured things out quickly, but still question how ready for the NBA he is simply due to his inexperience at high levels to this stage. There’s a real chance that he might need an extra year of seasoning, or else the team that picks him may be wasting one or two valuable seasons of his entry-level contract. Much like someone like Al-Farouq Aminu, the team that gets the best value out of Doumbouya may not necessarily be the team that selects him unless they can delay his process for coming over. But NBA teams generally are relatively high on Doumbouya and consider him a likely lottery pick.”; Round 2 – Naz Reid, C, LSU. “Reid is an interesting prospect due to his range as a shooter. Few guys who are true centers can match him from distance. He also, on occasion, showcased some defensive versatility, although for the most part he wasn’t awesome on that end. The Timberwolves recently hired Gersson Rosas out of the Houston front office, and it’s reasonable to believe that he will value shooting from big men given his analytical bent.”
Jonathan Givony of ESPN+ ($): Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga.
Basketball Insiders: Drew Maresca – Bol Bol, C, Oregon ; Jesse Blancarte – Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina; Spencer Davies – Romeo Langford, SG Indiana; Steve Kyler — Romeo Langford, SG Indiana.
Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report: Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, Limoges (France). “He’s already held his own all year in France’s top league (plus Eurocup), so he’ll look like a gamble worth taking, particularly given the potential value tied to forwards who can make three-pointers and guard three positions. Though he’s highly raw in terms of skill level and feel, Doumbouya has flashed enough glimpses of shot-making and finishing on the move to create optimism regarding his long-term development.”
The Ringer: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga. “A super-versatile defender who plays team-first basketball and has made encouraging progress on offense.”
Rob Dauster of NBC Sports: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga. “I wouldn’t be shocked to see him drop in the draft simply because I think he’s the kind of player that is better suited to finding a role on a good team than he is the kind of roll-the-dice upside pick the organizations that are perennially in lottery purgatory look for, but there may not be five guys from this draft that are more NBA-ready that Clarke is right now. That makes him a pretty ideal fit for a Minnesota team that is not all that far away. Slotting him next to Karl Towns in a frontcourt is exactly the kind of situation that Clarke should be best in.”
Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times: Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, Limoges (France). “The top international prospect would pair well in a frontcourt with Karl-Anthony Towns while owning a huge upside on both ends.”
Steve Popper of Newsday: Romeo Langford, SG Indiana.
Ben Standig of NBCSports.com: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina. “Little hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype for the Tar Heels, but the talent is there as evidenced in the Tar Heels’ round-of-32 win over Washington. Whether he can turn his impressive solo skills into helpful in team concepts is a major question for scouts. There’s a decent chance at one lottery team ultimately buys in.”
Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas.
Matt Goul of Cleveland.com: Colby White, SG, North Carolina. “Backcourt help makes the most sense for the Timberwolves, who ranked in the bottom third of 3-point shooting in the league, and must add around Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.”
Brian Lewis of the NY Post: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina. “Texas center Jaxson Hayes might be the best available, but with Karl-Anthony Towns on board, Minnesota banks on Little’s athleticism and upside.”
Tankathon: Round 1 – Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga; Round 2 – Shamorie Ponds, SG, St. John’s.
Brad Rowland of UPROXX: Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, Limoges (France). “This is an upside play and, frankly, people in the league seem to be higher on Doumbouya than I am at this stage. The Wolves may want to take a big swing, though, and he would fit the bill in the absence of a glaringly obvious fit elsewhere. Doumbouya’s skill set is wildly intriguing when combined with his size and (very) young age, opening the door for high-end potential.”
SLAM staff: Jarrett Culver, SF, Texas Tech.
Tom Westerholm of masslive.com: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina. “Minnesota drafted Josh Okogie last season and loved his defensive intensity and athleticism. Little’s skill level is questionable at this point, but he absolutely will play hard, and he has excellent athleticism and a nice frame for a wing. At some point, Little should be able to guard multiple positions (both wing and a little bigger), and teams will hope his 3-point shooting improves at the next level. Again: The star potential might not be incredibly high, but Little’s motor should help him carve out a role.”
Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com: Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, Limoges (France). “Timberwolves should be looking to find a power forward to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns. Doumboya might not be ready to become that in Year 1, but he the potential to be a blue chip prospect down the line with patience.”
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga. “Clarke was a standout during Gonzaga’s run to the Elite Eight and showed he could guard multiple positions. The Timberwolves are handcuffed with max deals for two players who don’t understand winning. Drafting Clarke may help.”
Raphielle Johnson of Rotoworld: Round 1 — Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga. “Offensively he isn’t the best perimeter shooter, doing the majority of his work around the basket (79.7% shooter at the rim per hoop-math) and in the mid-range. With the Timberwolves having Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, grabbing a player who doesn’t require a lot of touches offensively and is a plus defender would not be a bad idea as new team president Gersson Rosas looks to rebuild the roster.”; Round 2 – Jontay Porter, C, Missouri.
Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports: Rui Hachimura, SF/PF, Gonzaga. “Hachimura embodies the term “positionless basketball.” He’s a hybrid small forward/power forward who defends the perimeter well. Hachimura is a student of the game and will grow tremendously playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.”
David Kay of WalterFootball.com: Round 1 – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech. “Alexander-Walker is a versatile guard who can handle the rock or play off the ball. The Timberwolves could use options on the wing to help replace Jimmy Butler.”; Round 2 – Simisola Shittu, PF, Vanderbilt.
PF Brandon Clarke 7
SF/PF Sekou Doumbouya 5
SF Nassir Little 5
SG Romeo Langford 3
SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker 2
C Bol Bol
SF Jarrett Culver
SF/PF Rui Hachimura
C Jaxon Hayes
SF Cam Reddish
SG Colby White
Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns