Kahn makes his point in NBA Draft
Good news Minnesota fans, at least this year's NBA draft only left you scratching your head, not pulling your hair out like the last 14 years.
With the inaugural draft of the David Kahn regime in the books, Friday was the annual "What are they doing?" day in terms of the moves the Minnesota's pro basketball team did the prior evening.
But -- thank God there's a "but" -- these moves can at the very least be justified and have a good potential future to them, unlike some of the busts which have been made during the Kevin McHale tenure.
There's a chance these could pay off, and a chance supplies hope -- something which has been as rare as a Wolves' playoff appearance lately.
There are many things to look at before making a sound judgment on the Wolves picking two point guards back-to-back in the 2009 NBA Draft with slots five and six.
First, breakdown how the Wolves obtained the No. 5 pick from Washington, which was a good maneuver by the team's new GM Kahn.
Trading point guard Randy Foye and shooting guard Mike Miller to Washington for the No. 5 selection was a move which indicated this team is undergoing a transformation from the ground up.
Neither player could be counted on as being a contributor in the future -- like in three to four years future.
Miller was basically a bust after McHale traded O.J. Mayo for power forward Kevin Love and Miller was included as part of the package.
Simply put, the Wolves are not playing to contend next year and probably even the year after. Miller's contract was expiring after this season and was gone just due to the fact the team didn't need an aging shooter who necessarily couldn't shoot on a consistent basis.
Foye led the team with 16.3 points per game average and 4.3 assists average, but realistically, that is probably his ceiling.
Again, for a team rebuilding for a run three to four years down the road, no need to keep a point guard who has potentially reached his peak.
So, in essence, good trade by Kahn.
Now comes the bewildering moves.
At No. 5, the T-Wolves were said to be stunned by the fall of Spain's 18-year-old point guard Ricky Rubio to them at that slot.
Not having to have to think about taking the obvious best player at that spot -- if not the best point guard in the draft -- they selected Rubio and having the thought they will have to deal with the headaches which will come with the Euro-star, and there are plenty of them.
It was not just a common sense pick, but it was a gold mine one as far as marketing the team is concerned.
Rubio -- if he does in fact wear a Wolves' uniform this fall -- will instantly re-energize a franchise which has been as stale as a swamp water in July.
His no-look passes have been compared to "Pistol" Pete Maravich, despite only being 18-years-old.
So far, the Wolves are 1-for-1 with their high school prodigy picks. A grand slam with Kevin Garnett and a strikeout with the Nubi Ibi pick.
The scalp got scratched from then on out, with Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn be the next selection of the Wolves.
That's two point guards, for a position on the floor which only needs one.
It's like selecting goalies back-to-back high in the draft or a pair of high-profile quarterbacks in rounds one and two.
Not a lot of sense at face value.
But this Wolves team isn't your typical NBA situation.
Sure, the better "fit" pick would have been Davidson sharp-shooter Stephen Curry to go along with Rubio to form a young, dynamic backcourt.
But the question marks of Curry, like his size and athleticism, compared to the qualities of Flynn, made the Orangeman the better pick.
The Timberwolves don't have the luxury of picking for need, they need a huge influx of talent.
That's what Kahn knew and why Flynn and Rubio were the picks. It adds to a base of young, talented players like Al Jefferson (24 years old), Love (20) and Corey Brewer (23).
At that point and time, both were the best players available -- and it's not a forgone conclusion that one could be traded, Flynn if Rubio signs, Rubio if he returns back to Spain.
Flynn is the safety net, in case Rubio does in fact go back to Spain and play another year or two.
It's common knowledge that Rubio didn't exactly want to be Minnesota bound and live in our wonderful winters.
"It's cold" is about all he could say in post-draft interviews about his selection by Minnesota.
But it sounds like Rubio is being handfed by his agent and parents.
His agent wants Rubio in a big market for more bountiful endorsement, while his parents don't like the cold.
Rubio knows the money is coming -- he has allegedly already negotiated a $3 million buyout of his Spain team's contract. He also will be getting a top-five NBA draft selection contract.
The only thing he is concerned about -- and rightly so -- are his minutes he would see as a Timberwolf.
He basically said point-blank that if he sees minutes playing, he will come north (of course his agent is saying another thing).
The Flynn selection could muddle up an already fuzzy situation for getting Rubio here.
Kahn is gambling, of course, with the Rubio selection. But he also knows the Wolves hold the cards and have the luxury of time.
Minnesota owns the unlimited rights of Rubio if they offer him a qualified contract. They will keep his rights even if Rubio decides to play in Spain for the next year or two.
Rubio's desire to play in the NBA will get the best of him eventually -- and for Wolves' fans' hopes, it's this year.
It's a gamble, but nonetheless, Rubio is an asset, just one of many Kahn is stockpiling for the future.
Kahn traded UNC's Ty Lawson, another point guard, to Denver for a top-12 protected first round pick (of Charlotte's) next year.
That potentially gives the team three No. 1 picks in the 2010 draft, along with Utah's and their own.
Fans may turn that head scratching back into hair pulling if Rubio decides to return to Spain, even if the Wolves give legit and fair offers to him to play this year.
Flynn is probably a low-risk, high-reward player who will produce present and in the future.
But let's face it, tickets will not be sold to see Flynn, like they would with Rubio on the floor.
So, if Rubio does end up playing for the Wolves this year, can both Flynn and Rubio be on the court at the same time?
With the NBA becoming a guard-oriented game, with defensive players not able to touch a hair of perimeter players, both can play together.
Flynn can be the shooter, Rubio the disher.
Kahn did use past guard combo's of Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas, as well as Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson as examples.
Defensively, there will be mismatches.
Flynn is around the 5-10 height, after breaking his ankle at the growth plate as a kid.
Rubio is 6-4 and could grow more, but is wiry and skinny.
Both can be posted up by opposing guards, but the T-Wolves will literally have to become a team-oriented defensive scheme if both are on the floor.
But the fact is, even with both on the team, each are assets for the future -- albeit as a contributor for the Wolves, or as trade material for another valuable piece.
Forget this year and next season, those picks were not about those years.
Gathering assets such as talented players -- not need players -- and first round picks is called foresight.
Sure, some don't see past their noses in this regard, but hopefully patience pays off for those who see far out.
But then again, these are the Wolves we are talking about.
Hopefully it's a turning point for this franchise and Kahn is leading the way -- not conning fans with false hope.
These two draft selections, and what becomes of them, will more than likely determine that fate.