Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones and the parameters of hope

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Karl-Anthony Towns, right, shaking hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number one overall pick Thursday night.

During his most recent tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves, President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders has now called the shots for the franchise in the last three NBA drafts. On each occasion, he’s met with the assembled media for a late-night, post-draft recap of how and why new players were added to the Timberwolves roster. And on each occasion, Saunders has exuded a distinctly different temperament. Taken together, they reflect the upward trajectory of this gradually compelling basketball team.

Two years ago, Saunders was dispirited and unabashedly buffeted by events. He acknowledged that his first three plausible scenarios were voided by the choices of the teams ahead of them. His tone was apologetic, and he could not surmount his disappointment enough to avoid damning the player he did choose first, Shabazz Muhammad, with faint praise.

Last year, Saunders was ebullient. He obviously had gotten the player he wanted, teenager Zach LaVine, with the 13th overall pick. He conceded that the incredibly raw but incredibly athletic LaVine was a risk to become a bust, but he was honestly beguiled by his potential, claiming that “this guy has an opportunity to be a home-run type player.”

Last night, Saunders was serene. For the first time in the now 27-year history of the franchise, the Timberwolves had the top pick in the draft. For most of last season and into the early spring, Saunders had coveted center Jahlil Okafor, a gifted offensive force in the low post for Duke. There was also some persuasive analytical evidence that guard D’Angelo Russell was a phenomenal all-around talent deserving of consideration as an elite prospect.

But over the last few weeks, Saunders joined a near-consensus of NBA draft experts in the belief that 19-year old center-forward Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky was the most complete player in the draft. By taking Towns, Saunders made a choice that was safe, sound, and inspirational all at the same time.

Coupled with the trade Saunders engineered with Cleveland last summer that brought eventual rookie-of-the-year Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota, the Wolves now have two cornerstones with superstar potential — the most reliable, if maddeningly elusive, blueprint for championship contention in the NBA.

No one knows how much of that stratospheric potential will be realized by either player, of course. But for now, in terms of personnel acquisition, Flip Saunders has aced his assignment of rebuilding this franchise to the point where there is genuine hope for the future. He knows it. And last night he bathed in the serenity of that self-satisfaction.

From his new perch on the aerie, he readily conceded that two years ago on draft night, he came down to address the media “with my tail between my legs,” and then slyly noted that the players he acquired that night — Muhammad and center Gorgui Dieng — “didn’t turn out so bad.”

But the better contrast in mien is the Saunders of last year versus the Saunders of last night. In June of 2014, before the Wiggins trade, with Kevin Love in limbo but obviously heading out the door, and with Saunders having controversially named himself head coach just a few weeks earlier after the resignation of Rick Adelman, there was a rescue-mission desperation to Flip’s ardor for LaVine. Using a lottery pick on a phenomenal athlete who couldn’t even get off the bench for his college team seemed straight out of the MacGruber playbook, something that felt ingenious and ridiculous at the same time. It was certainly a ploy that, internally and externally, required a sales job, which is how phrases like “has an opportunity to be a home-run type player” get uttered.

Last night, a serene Saunders could dispense with the clutter of qualification. He called the selection of Towns, “a home run.” No brag, just fact. The words were succinct and the tone was certain enough that if Okafor or Russell or another hotshot does happen to mount a more successful career than Towns, Saunders won’t be second-guessing himself.

A KAT scan

Let me begin this more detailed parsing of Karl-Anthony Towns with my usual draft-column caveat that I do not follow the college game and rely on the received wisdom of others until I have a chance to watch the rookies in NBA competition. That said, the facts in Towns’ personal history and the near-unanimous plaudits of evaluators I most respect make this choice easy to endorse.

The facts are that Towns has excellent size at just under seven feet and a physique that is the right blend of bulk for low-post jousting and springy sinew for quickness away from the basket. He was raised in a family that loved him and the game of basketball enough to pave a court for him out in the yard. He is smart enough to have passed his junior year of high school via a correspondence course. In interviews he is well spoken and polite without being stiff and rote.

In short, there are no red flags that indicate Towns will personally jeopardize his chance to become a superstar.

As for his basketball skills, it was heartening to hear Saunders say that Towns was most of all chosen for his defense, which was the most glaring of many deficiencies for the Wolves last year. Specifically, Saunders called Towns the best pick-and-roll defender in the draft, and if that is accurate it will represent an enormous upgrade in a vital aspect of the modern NBA for this franchise.

Having Kevin Garnett around to mentor a pupil as promising and apparently willing to learn as Towns is another sweetener for this pick. 

Another positive attribute from the scouting reports that was emphasized by Saunders is Towns ability to run in transition. He has a quick start and a high motor that will suit a team that has the athletic Wiggins on the wing, a creative floor general in point guard Ricky Rubio, the relentless offensive hustle and finishing ability of Muhammad and the trailing three-point capability of Kevin Martin. And in the half-court, that quickness can be utilized in pick-and-roll offense with Rubio as teams contend with Wiggins, Muhammad and Martin in various combinations on the wing.

Saunders and others have also praised Towns versatility. He can be a legitimate presence as both a center down low and a power forward who can step out and hit the midrange jumper. Given the long-term uncertainty of the Wolves’ front-court contingent — the health of Nikola Pekovic, the age of Garnett, the danger of Dieng being a “tweener” with weaknesses at both center and power forward — this flexibility is a blessing.

What are the downsides of the Towns pick? Well, Kentucky was so dominant last season that he only logged about 20 minutes per game, perhaps putting his endurance as a teenager tossed into the NBA’s 82-game grind into question. And there is always the caprice of injury or other unforeseen circumstance marring the rosy picture.

In other words, Towns becoming at least a functional NBA starting big man is as close to a sure thing as you can get. The likelihood is that he will become much more than that.

The hometown kid

As if the drafting of Karl-Anthony Towns wasn’t enough positive juju for the long-suffering local fan base, the Wolves traded their two second-round draft picks and a second-rounder in 2019 to Cleveland for the right to take Tyus Jones of Duke — and Apple Valley — with the 24th pick of the first round.

At first blush, this smacks of the craven parochialism that has dogged the Wolves franchise since its inception. Sons-in-law of two separate owners have filled prominent front office jobs more often than not. The sons of the past two coaches, Adelman and Saunders, were among the assistant coaches last season. And of course Saunders, assistant coaches Sam Mitchell and Sidney Lowe, and Kevin Garnett are all former components of past Wolves teams who have returned to the fold. Trading up to take an undersized kid from the Minneapolis suburbs seems to fit the mold.

It goes without saying that Wolves owner Glen Taylor hopes the hometown kid can put a few more fannies in the seats — after the bait-and-switch fiasco surrounding the acquisition of Garnett last season, one can’t be too cynical about attendance-fluffing.

But there are also good basketball reasons for this maneuver. Jones won a national championship his only season in college as a preternaturally mature “coach on the floor.” He was a natural leader on a big stage and flourished under pressure.

As a capable ball-handler and unselfish distributor at the point guard position, he also fits a specific need on this Wolves roster. Yes, at 6-1 he is undersized and not especially athletic by NBA standards, but the Wolves did not have to pay a high price to get him — on the contrary, Taylor has a habit of selling second-round picks and Saunders claimed before the draft that the team was more likely to pick Europeans or other foreign-born players in the second round because they could be “stashed” in international leagues.

By contrast, Jones is an immediate roster option and potential asset. Taking him with the 24th choice in the first round is in the neighborhood where most draft experts projected him to go.

Besides, the way the Wolves fortunes have suddenly turned, it is possible they have a win-win situation where the hometown kid can actually help this franchise.

The parameters of hope

Lest anyone start thinking about the Wolves in the playoffs next season, let’s do some reality checking. The most promising players on the roster were both born in 1995. The point guard with the highest salary and longest term contract is a historically inaccurate shooter. We have already mentioned the jumbled deficiencies in the front court, which are complicated by the presence of Adreian Payne, who was acquired for a future first-round draft pick but proved to be woefully inconsistent and willing to roll his eyes at his coach when getting instruction.

Aside from Kevin Martin, there is not an established three-point shooter on the roster, and Saunders has not been the kind of coach whose system nurtures three-point shooting. And yet the ability to spread the floor and score from long range is a fundamental component of success in the modern NBA.

Meanwhile, the Western Conference is brutally competitive. At least two teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year — Oklahoma City (who were riddled with injuries) and Utah (who came on strong in the second half last season) — are expected to be much improved. OKC won 45 games last season. Utah won 38. The Wolves won 16. And we haven’t even talked about the eight playoff holdovers.

Necessary time will need to be spent not only on maturation, but sorting out roles and playing time for personnel. There is a logjam in the backcourt and on the wing. Last season, Wiggins was a much better player at the shooting guard position, especially when Muhammad could be the team’s small forward. Muhammad’s size and aggressiveness forced opponents to guard him with their most rugged wing stopper, allowing Wiggins less resistance — and wear-and-tear — on offense. This is important because Wiggins works so hard as the Wolves wing stopper on defense.

But pairing Wiggins and Muhammad means Martin comes off the bench. Will the veteran accede to this role, or pout and return to the horrible defense that marked his career until a semblance of competence and effort last season?

Then there is LaVine, a favorite of Saunders, who is beguiled by his upside. Does he play shooting guard, his best position, at the expense of minutes for Martin, Muhammad or Wiggins? Does he play point guard, where he is grossly inept at both ends of the court, and rob time from Jones while sabotaging the team?

All of these things are potentially troubling, but if Wiggins and Towns flourish in a manner that approaches their full potential, it will feel like nit-picking. For a change, the big picture for the Wolves is bright. Indeed, not since the 2004-05 team was favored to win the Western Conference has optimism for the Wolves seemed so credible.

Wiggins and Towns are under favorable contracts that will bind them to the Wolves at least through 2019 for Wiggins and 2020 for Towns (and that’s worst-case scenario with both opting out after their qualifying offers are exercised). During that period, the salary cap will skyrocket as a result of the lucrative new media contracts, and now-questionable deals with Pekovic, Chase Budinger and Anthony Bennett will come off the books.

We’ll find out about LaVine, Muhammad, Jones, Dieng and Payne. Better yet, we’ll find out about Wiggins, Towns and Rubio.

For now, let’s allow Flip Saunders the last word: “I couldn’t be happier right now in the direction we are going in all aspects of our organization.”

Comments (33)

  1. Submitted by charles thompson on 06/26/2015 - 10:34 am.

    been down so long it looks like up to me

    The woofs now have two decent options at center, point guard, and off guard. If Tyus and Martin can hit a few threes this should be a fun team. Watching Golden State (good thing they didn’t get Kaminski) its obvious that it is hard to beat a team when you are scoring two at a time and they are scoring three at a time.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 06/26/2015 - 10:47 am.

    It all comes down to the players fitting into Flip’s system or Flip changing his system to fit his roster. If Flip let’s his players go more up and down, spreads floor with more 3 pt attempts versus the most inefficient shot, long 2, which Wolves live on and the fans are patient (Wolves will win 30 or so next yr) this group has a chance to be fun to watch.

  3. Submitted by Anton Schieffer on 06/26/2015 - 11:12 am.

    Yes lots of optimism

    I agree that last night was Flip’s best-case scenario. From what I was reading before the draft, it seemed that we’d have to part with both our second rounders and foreign prospect Nemanja Bjelica in order to move up and take Jones. I don’t know enough about Jones to know whether he’ll pan out, but I do think that the Wolves have a lot more familiarity with him than other NBA teams do, and I have no problem with taking advantage of that, as long as we’re looking at characteristics that make a player successful.

    But obviously the big acquisition is KAT. I just hope we’re patient enough with him and that fans accept that rookie big men have a steep learning curve in the NBA. KAT is going to be banged up, picked on, and has to learn a how to play a much faster game with new teammates. Ever since we’ve signed Rubio, I’ve wanted a big man on the Wolves who can play defense and catch lobs, and I feel like we’ve found that and then some. Anyone looking to sell themselves on Towns should read this lengthy piece:

    http://www.canishoopus.com/2015/6/18/8652109/karl-towns-may-very-well-be-the-next-step-in-the-revolution-kevin

    Also, after hearing the news of Mason Plumlee being traded to Portland for a late first-round pick, I can’t help but wonder if we could’ve had him, maybe instead of Jones. I think Plumlee is a guy that KG likes, though I think he didn’t mesh well being on the floor with Brook Lopez. But he’d probably have been a good compliment to Dieng or KAT, though probably not Pekovic, whose continued presence on the court likely depends on how his rehab is progressing. I just really wish we had some better answers at the PF position going into this season, and hope we can kick the tires on some more bigs during summer league (and sign Bjelica if possible).

    Either way, this team has many young players whose games are evolving. This team should be fun to watch next year (despite my pessimism towards Flip’s offensive schemes)

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/26/2015 - 11:29 am.

    The Timberwolves?

    I just wonder if Minnesota is the right place for these young players. Can they get the development they need playing with one of the NBA’s worst franchises?

    • Submitted by Mark Snyder on 06/26/2015 - 01:41 pm.

      Wiggins

      Look at how Wiggins improved just over the course of last season and that should answer your question.

    • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 06/26/2015 - 03:29 pm.

      Not sure the history is relevant

      Sportswriters like to talk about ‘history’ and ‘momentum’ and the like, because they think those things make for good stories, but it’s not entirely clear they have much of a place in determining a franchise’s ceiling over simply whether or not you have good players who know how to play together.

      For example, look at the Atlanta Hawks — at the turn of the century, the Hawks went from a talented franchise to one deep in rebuilding with the added challenge of a highly apathetic fan base. They drafted, developed, and ended with by far the best record in the Eastern Conference last year, with an arguably better, deeper team than the Cavs team that went to the Finals.

      And what about the Grizzlies? It took nine seasons for the Grizz to finish with a better record than the Wolves did in season one, then after a couple of years of seeming progress, went right back in the crapper. If there was a team that might qualify as ‘losers’ based on their history, the Grizz would seem to fit the bill. Yet drafting and development brought them back to three-straight 50-win seasons, and a trip to the Conference Finals in 2013. It’s hard to call the Grizz crappy these days.

      Nobody’s promised an NBA Championship — not even LeBron James — but if the Wolves continue on the path their apparently on, it would take an awful lot of bad luck and bad judgment to keep them from improving. That’s the reason for optimism, not just that KG and Saunders are back in the building and that a highly popular MN prep player will be joining them.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/26/2015 - 03:59 pm.

        History

        But the problem here is that the Timberwolves have a long history of poor performance. Is this the result of poor management? Or are they just unlucky? I don’t really know, but I think those questions are worth asking. What I do know is that the T-Wolves have a history of atrocious teams, and I wonder what the cost of this, both in terms of players who don’t reach their full potential, and also in terms of the investment the community has made to this team. Just the other day in Minnpost, there was an article about how difficult it has been to secure financing for much needed renovations at the Wolves building. Does anyone doubt that if the T-Wolves had been even an average performing team in recent years, they would have acquired that financing long ago?

        One of the reasons our community has gone into partnership with the T-wolves, but not the only reason by the way, is that NBA basketball is supposed to generate economic activity locally and in the state. Whether it does that, is of course disputable. But what I don’t think is disputable is that our partners in this deal, the owners have not performed satisfactorily and in some way or another, they must be called to account.

        • Submitted by Greg Kerkvliet on 06/27/2015 - 12:22 pm.

          Minnesota Myopia

          He gave you an example of the Grizzlies, a franchise that was run worse than the Wolves for much of its existence. They’ve given away useful players, made horrendous draft moves (trading Love for Mayo and the Wolves’ bad contracts, taking Hasheem Thabeet over James Harden and Steph Curry), and had a lot of front office mismanagement (they almost let their 50-win rookie coach come to the Wolves last summer for nothing). They’ve been able to overcome those things and win several playoff rounds over the last few seasons. There are other examples of formerly-bad franchises changing through mostly getting the right talent along with some front office and coaching changes (Warriors, Hawks, Wizards, Raptors, and Clippers the most recent examples). The Wolves had those front office changes 2 years ago when Kahn was removed, and almost no one from the McHale era remains. They also improved their team a lot in 2011 when Adelman replaced Rambis.

          Second, know how many of the Wolves’ draft busts actually figured things out after leaving here? Two: Luc Longley and Howard Eisley. Sometimes, a bad pick is just picking a bad player; the Wolves can be ripped for days for their bad draft choices, but that’s much different than a development problem. Also, most player development happens in the offseason, when players go on their own and work on their game. If a guy doesn’t make it, it’s usually because he didn’t work efficiently. The young players acquired by Flip have all shown growth in their games in his 2 seasons making the picks, and all could be considered potential rotation players on a good team.

          People have questioned Glen Taylor for years, and it’s been a talking point on sites like this since they started missing the playoffs. The general consensus is that he’s not done well with providing an infrastructure but there is some relief that he saved the team from moving 21 years ago and has resisted efforts to sell the team and move them since. It’s just something everybody lives with because the alternative is no team.

          • Submitted by Jeff Germann on 06/29/2015 - 01:54 pm.

            The Wolves woe’s have been the result of 2 things…

            Bad luck and bad managment. Its almost impossible to dig yourself out of the muck if you cannot change at least one of these 2 things. We have had our share of bad luck as a franchise. From having players die to never moving up in the lottery to having rule changes come into play that affect our players at inoportune times (think KG/Marbury and the max salary rule). We’ve not been a lucky as a franchise. Then, combine that with inept managment and you have the disaster that is the Minnesota Timberwolves.

            Maybe the luck has changed. We may end up looking at last seasons injuryfest as a blessing in the long run if Towns turns out to be the player we think he might be. Lebron going back to Cleveland at the right time, etc. On the managment side, Flip seems to be more competant at least with drafting than past GM’s have been. Its still yet to be determined if he’ll change his coaching style enough to be competant there…or if he will do the right thing and eventually bring in a good coach. (Odds of that are very low by the way. He isnt going to let someone else take credit as this team turns itself around so I expect him to coach for at least 3 more years).

            All in all…things are looking up. Now lets hope the Wolves are actively addressing the issue of keeping players healthy.

  5. Submitted by Jerry Gale on 06/26/2015 - 12:50 pm.

    We still need a veteran back-up point guard

    This team needs three point guards since at some point, for every team, one of the point guards will get hurt. And, Flip needs to forget about LaVine being a point guard.

    Also, I’m not convinced that Jones will be successful. He has Jonny Flynn Part 2 written all over him. He also reminds me of Khalid El-min: outstanding HS player (in my opinion, still the best MN HS player ever), great college player, wins a national championship by being the best team player on the team and then too short to be successful in the pros.

    Sorry to throw water on the party.

    • Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 06/27/2015 - 01:20 am.

      Jones is no Jonny Flynn

      Whatever you think of Tyrus Jones, he is nothing like Jonny Flynn. Flynn was a shoot first guard who was too small to play the 2-guard position and did not have skills or mindset to be a point guard. Flynn was always looking to create his own shot an seldom tried to set up his teammates. Jones is a creative passer who is always looking to distribute the ball and is a true point guard. He relishes being a point guard while Flynn hate that role.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/29/2015 - 09:29 am.

      pg

      Based on the current roster makeup I don’t think we can afford to forget about LaVine being a pg. While he may not be the primary backup he will likely be needed to fill that role at times due to injury and a long season. I’m not saying he should be doing that or not but he is versatile and that is needed in the NBA. The wolves need one guard at least who is positionally flexible. Jones and Rubio are not able to do shooting guard duties so are limited. While I think it was a good move to get Jones his size and athleticism will limit him but I think he will still be a decent pg and possible better than Rubio unless Rubio starts shooting better.

  6. Submitted by Chris Hempel on 06/26/2015 - 02:33 pm.

    Great future ahead for the Wolves

    As a former Minnesotan, I’m happy to see that the Timberwolves seem to be headed in the right direction… finally. Whether Flip is the right coach still remains to be seen. My only question is why every article written by you about the Wolves has to be so incredibly long?!? This isn’t string theory, its basketball. This flipping article is 2,141 words in length! By comparison, the Declaration of Independence slides in at a measly 1,322 and the Bill of Rights is only 791. If you are compensated by the number of words then I can understand the brutal duration of these pieces. If not, how about infusing a little Hemingway-esque efficiency in your pen?

    • Submitted by Ian Stade on 06/26/2015 - 07:36 pm.

      Length

      I was just amazed by the length of the article and comments and reminded myself this is one of the reasons I wait in anticipation for these articles. Because they get to a depth about the beautiful game and my beloved Wloves that other local and national sportswriters don’t. I also appreciate the thoughtful comments by people that show they care and know a lot about the Wolves. Until Britt writes about a topic in Wolves news, I don’t feel fully informed. Don’t change a thing.

    • Submitted by William Stahl on 06/26/2015 - 10:03 pm.

      Article Length

      This is not Buzzfeed and no one is forcing you to read the whole thing. Set a counter for 300 words if you need to. I happen to appreciate the depth of Britt’s analyses.

    • Submitted by Greg Kerkvliet on 06/27/2015 - 12:23 pm.

      Plenty of other options

      I appreciate the amount of careful thought he puts in.

  7. Submitted by Tom Om on 06/26/2015 - 07:32 pm.

    Long Articles

    Yes, Hemple is right. Your articles are long, but please continue to write these non telegraphic, insightful, well reasoned, stats based, and very eloquently written posts.

  8. Submitted by charles thompson on 06/26/2015 - 07:55 pm.

    i’m back

    You can’t fix stupid. You can’t teach fast or tall. You don’t know who will take their professional status seriously. I think Jones and Towns look like good picks. Maybe it’s Saunders who needs to step up his game. I know it takes a healthy ego to play in the NBA but the whole starter / off the bench thing is just stupid. Watching Jerry West or Jerry Sloan launching dehydrated leg weary jumpers in the fourth quarter after playing every minute is a painful reminder of times gone by. If you have smart players the gap between the best player in the NBA and the worst player in the NBA is, in some ways, very narrow. Run’em in run ’em out, it’s a team game.

    • Submitted by joe smith on 06/27/2015 - 04:50 pm.

      Jerry West got his name Mr. Clutch not by bricking shots in the 4th. Duncan, Jordan, and many great players averaged 40 plus minutes especially in big games and playoffs.

  9. Submitted by Seth Stonestrom on 06/26/2015 - 11:23 pm.

    Worst comment ever

    Britt and Chris,

    Long time lurker and fan of your writing. I waste too much time reading sports and you are the BEST out there. Please keep these articles long and full of meaty substance which is so hard to find.

    Seriously, major props to you and your style.

  10. Submitted by Greg Kerkvliet on 06/27/2015 - 12:44 pm.

    Cautiously optimistic

    It’s nice to see them pick someone I liked. Through my limited eyes, Towns was my favorite NBA prospect from last season, and I was really straining to accept Okafor as the pick. The Tyus pick could be more trouble than it’s worth. This is a season-ticket $ grab. He’s never going to be a guy good enough to justify trading Rubio, yet if he’s a decent backup, every casual fan will look at Ricky’s shooting % and start chanting for Tyus every time he misses. They did well in trading up, but I liked RJ Hunter better because a potential starting SG with deep 3 range is more valuable than a potential backup PG with good basketball IQ.

    I’ve already expressed my disagreement with Britt about maximizing Wiggins’ minutes with Muhammad, so there’s no need to go in depth about that. It’s important to be cautious about the offensive potential of these 2 cornerstones. Their highest ceilings are on defense; they have raw offensive potential, but there are still notable question marks about each’s offense that aren’t there for guys like Okafor and Jabari Parker. I’d rather have the 2-way flexibility of these 2, though. I’ll be interested to see if Towns can do some of the things offensively with making plays that Draymond Green and Boris Diaw can.

    The health of their vets and their style of play will dictate their season once again. It looks like the roster is set for the top 12 guys (Rubio, Martin, Wiggins, KG, Towns, Jones, LaVine, Muhammad, Bjelica, Dieng, Pek, Payne), and they will have 14 guaranteed contracts if the Bjelica signing gets finalized. I hope they can somewhat painlessly get Budinger and Bennett off this roster and use those last 3 spots for guys (maybe Brown, Hummel, and Adrien) who could step in after an injury hits. Increased 3-point volume for the returning guys would help; Towns can’t be expected to be a high-volume 3 point shooter or a guy who can hit above 33% as a rookie, Bjelica alternates between good (40-42%) and bad (28-31%) seasons from 3, and Jones wasn’t a high-volume shooter from there in college.

  11. Submitted by Tom Om on 06/27/2015 - 11:41 pm.

    Sauners, Bjelica and Shabazz

    Interesting take on the evolution of Saunders’ post draft recap.
    I think that his work the past 2 years as a POBO earned “Saunders the coach” at least another year of Industrial Peace from Taylor.

    I wouldn’t worry about Bjelica’s 3pt% range. In 2013/14 (Euroleague) he averaged 42%. At the beginning of 2014/15 when Fener moved him to a “full time 4” he struggled with the 3, but after a short period of adjustment he bounced back to 40% during the playoffs and the Final Four. In the Turkish league he also averaged 40% over the last 2 years. So I don’t think he’ll have any problem averaging 37-42% in the NBA on 3-4 attempts per game. Aside: most of the Euroleague 3pt% career numbers usually correlate quite nicely with the NBA.

    On the other hand I am not sure about Shabazz’s 39% for 3s. Shabazz had a miraculous December that included 5 of 6 from behind the 3 pt line against Utah, but he struggled a lot in Jan. and Feb. If we treat the Utah game as an outlier we see that Shabazz’s 3pt% is only 33%.

    I hope I am wrong about Shabazz and right about Bjelica, but I don’t believe he’d come for 12M/3years. I don’t see the Wolves paying him 20M/3yrs which is what he can get in Europe.
    Bjelica can score, rebound, handle and pass the ball; offensively he can play 3 positions (PG, SF and PF). He is a D. Green type of player.

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