Suffice it to say that I, like many other devout T-Wolves fans, was utterly surprised at numerous things during the draft last night. Most obviously surprising was the fact that the Timberwolves selected back to back point guards with their lottery picks.
Surprising enough by itself, the fact that Ricky Rubio dropped into their hands at number five was pretty astounding. Rubio was considered the second best player in the draft by some. Rubio ended up dropping with the selection of Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, and Tyreke Evans above him. Rubio has the chance to be a special talent, but whether we see him in a Wolves uniform is yet to be seen. Getting out of his current contract is tricky enough, but now it is compounded by the fact that he really doesn't have any desire to leave Spain for Minnesota. Ultimately, I expect Rubio to either be here this season, or the following. I don't believe that a multi-year holdout in Spain or a trade is a possibility.
Point guard Jonny Flynn was taken with the Wolves second pick. This was an utter surprise, as most everyone expected a shooting guard or at the very least a combo guard selected in this spot. Instead, GM David Kahn selected Flynn, an energetic, tiny point guard who is NBA-ready. The pick was almost universally torn apart by most, however I do believe that the Timberwolves made a smart pick. It is possible that Flynn was the best player left on the Timberwolves board at pick 6, and with a team in this much need of talent, they should be in best-player-available mode.
The selection of both Flynn and Rubio allows for a few different things to happen. First off, if Rubio does hold out for the season to take another in Spain, the Wolves will be able to start Flynn at the point. This reduces Rubio's negotiating power (not that he has much to begin with, with the slotted contracts in the NBA). With Flynn, they can more easily absorb the blow of not having their number 5 pick immediately. Second off, if Flynn doesn't succeed while Rubio is in Spain, we have a new PG ready to step in. Third, if Flynn does succeed, and Rubio remains in Spain, we now have a potential trade chip in an NBA caliber point guard, as we won't need two.
The fourth, and best-case scenario, is that both Flynn and Rubio play for the Wolves next season. Despite both playing the same position, there is definitely enough minutes for both of them next season. Flynn is ready now, and Rubio would be able to play a little bit less as he learns the NBA game. Plus, in the instances with both Flynn and Rubio on the floor at the same time, the Wolves could have one of the most exciting fast break offenses in the league.
Finally, we took shooting guard Wayne Ellington with the 28th pick in the first round. With the jettison of both Mike Miller and Randy Foye, the Wolves were suddenly extremely thin at the shooting guard position. Ellington is NBA ready after playing for the National Champion UNC Tarheels this season, and could very well step into a starting role for this team. To find a starting caliber shooting guard at this point in the draft makes this another solid pick for Kahn. Ellington, though undersized, just became the best outside shooter on an NBA team.
(All above pictures were photoshopped by the Court's Sports team)