The Minnesota Timberwolves have some options with the 18th pick in the draft later this month. No matter which route they take, they must fill one of their glaring needs.
Minnesota has a few definitive needs that have to be addressed this offseason. With the 18th pick in the NBA Draft on June 26th, they have an opportunity to fill in a huge void.
Here are some of their biggest needs and the players that can take over those roles:
Perimeter scoring- The Wolves struggled all year to provide scoring help from the outside. They shot just 33.2% from beyond the arc, good for just 23rd best in the league. Coach Rick Adelman chose to start Luke Ridnour, a true point guard, at the two for much of the season because of the lack of scoring ability from other options outside. When Rubio went down with his injury and Ridnour was moved to the point, the lack of depth at the off-guard position was more evident than ever. Martell Webster and Wesley Johnson, the two primary options for Minnesota at shooting guard toward the end of the season, combined to average a measly 12.9 PPG for the year.
Dion Waiters, G/Syracuse - Has some ability to shoot from the outside (36.3% from 3 last year with the Orange). Lacked the assertiveness to be an elite scorer at the college level. Athletic enough to cover anyone at the position. Was relentless on the defensive end last year, with 1.8 steals per game. Was great in the NCAA Tournament, leading Syracuse to the Elite 8.
Austin Rivers, G/Duke - Was the primary scoring option with the Blue Devils, averaging 15.5 PPG. Often settles for the outside shot (Not a bad thing in Minnesota), but has proven he can get it done in the big moments (Shot against UNC). Defensively may struggle against some of the bigger two-guards that try to post him up. Was streaky at points during his freshman year.
Terrance Ross, G/Washington - Dynamic on both ends of the floor. Can score from anywhere on the court, and did with the Huskies, averaging 16.4 PPG. 6'7" frame provides match-up problems for anyone at the off guard spot.
Interior Defense- As I have previously pointed out, Minnesota was HORRIBLE at defending the paint during the 2011-12 season. The ranked 25th in blocks per contest last year and gave up over 44 points a game in the key (that's not good). Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love struggle to defend the rim when they are on the court at the same time.. They need help.
Fab Melo, C/Syracuse -
If the sole purpose of a center was to block shots and rebound, Fab Melo would be the man. seven foot, 270 pound frame is NBA ready. Melo blocked just a shade under three shots a game and altered many more than that. Was a key to Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone. Would take a lot of pressure off Love on the boards. Very limited offensive game.
Meyers Leonard, C/Illinois - At 7 feet tall, Leonard is long enough to deter slashers from finishing at the rim (1.9 BPG). Needs to fill out a little more to put up with the pounding down low and an 82 game season. Efficient rebounder. Skilled in the post with the basketball. Developed into Illini's go-to-guy on the offensive end late in the year (13.6 PPG).
Scoring Small Forward - If Johnson and Webster are not answers at the off-guard, they probably are not at small forward either. Derrick Williams was slotted to play this spot when the Wolves drafted him with the #2 pick last year, but he showed he was much more comfortable playing at the four. Michael Beasley, their best scorer at this spot, is a restricted free agent this summer. Though he has stated he wants to come back, Adelman did not commit to him on a consistent basis and may look to go a different direction. Either way, if Minnesota does not address the off-guard position, they need someone at this spot that can score next to Love and has the ability to create his own shot.
Terrance Jones, F/Kentucky - Jones scoring dropped from 15.7 to 12.9 PPG in his sophomore season, but that is to be expected when you are playing with four other first round picks with the Wildcats. Jones is a big,athletic forward that can score multiple ways, rebounds very well, and adds toughness on the defensive end. Both sides of the floor improve with Jones on the floor. Huge upside for him, but he can disappear at times on the court.
Moe Harkless, F/St. Johns - Harkless fits a similar mold to Jones. He is an lengthy forward that can score on the inside and uses his athleticism to cause problems on the defensive side of the ball. The freshman is a menace on the boards but struggles to hit shots from the perimeter.