Come and gone, the 2009 NBA draft. As always, the Wolves refuse to do it the easy way. But whats matters is, did they do it the right way?
Entering the draft the Wolves had 6 picks at their disposal and were expected to be active, as David Kahn wanted to put his stamp on this team by "making a splash". Including the Washington (Wizards) trade, they were in fact active and made a splash that soaked every New York dipshit in the audience. They came away with...
- Ricky Rubio
- Johnny Flynn
- Wayne Ellington
- Henk Norel
- 2010 1st Round Pick
- 2010 2nd Round Pick
Of course, what you already know by now is that they took two point guards with their first two picks. It's a highly unorthodox strategy that drew frothing indictments from the likes of Chad Ford and Dick Vitale. I'll admit that when it happened and pretty much for the remainder of the night I was confused as to their motives. I still am. What's the plan? There has got to be a plan, right?
I slept a few hours, had flashbacks of waking up to the Mayo/Love trade from last year, reluctantly turned on my computer and have come to the following conclusion, at least for the time being.
First of all, I like all of the players they ended up with. Most of you know my thoughts on Rubio. I love his potential and what he could do to change this course of this franchise. It took all of 30 seconds for anxious Wolves fans to fill various online communities with threads such as "Rubio to be traded?", "Rubio agent wants out!", "Rubio's mom doesn't like cold weather" and of course, "Fire Kahn". I, for one, regardless of whether or not he stays in Europe another year, believe it was the right pick. The Wolves had to take him in the same way the Bucks had to take Yi Jianlin a few years ago. Letting Rubio pass would have signaled to the fan base that they aren't really serious about assembling the best talent possible. It would have signaled to Europe and other leagues that foreign players can in fact dicate where they go based on the threat of staying over seas. It would have signaled to the major NBA markets that the mid-size markets and below aren't entiteled to the same caliber of player they are, that the stars should be in the biggest cities. It's an attitude that exists and is perpuated by the media. But that's a different rant.
Next was Jonny Flynn. I am a huge Jonny Flynn fan. I hoped he would end up in Minnesota. Of course, I assumed the other lottery pick would be a back court compliment and not another point guard. The immediate reaction was that there must surely be a pending trade. But it never came. I heard a rumor that the Wolves had a contingent deal with Sacramento of Flynn and #18 for Tyreke Evans. Such a trade would have made this draft a homerun but it never went down because the Kings would apparently only do the deal if Earl Clark, James Johnson or Austin Daye were available at #18, none of which were. Who knows if it's a true rumor but it certainly would make sense based on everything we heard leading up the draft about Sac's love of Flynn. The Wolves quickly got word out that they plan to keep both Flynn and Rubio and that they do strongly believe the pair can exist in the backcourt together in the mold of Danny Ainge/Dennis Johnson and Isaiah Thomas/Joe Dumars. Who knows if they actually mean that or if it's just talk to inflate the trade values of either player. I like the idea of a fast paced, push the tempo backcourt but concerns about the overall size of such a duo are legitimate. I do think Flynn was one of the two best picks that could have been made in that spot. It would have been too much of a stretch for DeMar DeRozan, leaving Stephen Curry has the only other option. Curry would have fit nicely as a jumpshooter but that's the only way in which is he is better than Flynn.
Wayne Ellington is a really solid player. With the 28th pick of the 1st round you're looking for a contributor and Ellington can be that, especially for a team without a true shooting guard on roster. For much of the predraft process he was ranked right behind Terrance Williams, who went #11. So nabbing Ellington 17 picks later is a good value.
I know nothing about Henk Norel other than that he is Dutch and played on Rubio's spanish team. I can't help but think this was a pick to make Rubio feel at home. An entourage pick, if you will.
Trading current picks for future picks is always sort of a buzzkill for fans but in this case it was a good idea. Coming out of the draft with six rookies would have been overkill and it sets them up to have a potential 5 picks in 2010.
It was an eventful draft and a fun one from a Wolves fan's perspective, no doubt. The overall ruling on this one will come down to how the Rubio/Flynn situation plays out. Rumors that either one of them could still be traded are already raging and will continue to do so. Personally, I wouldn't mind if they tried to rekindle the Evans discussion. We'll also get a steady dose of "Rubio: will he or won't he" talk from now through October. Even if the Wolves turn around and deal Rubio today, it was still the right pick because he was hands down the best player available. That being said, I would require an absolute ransom in return for him. And even if they keep Flynn, I won't regret it. As David Kahn has stressed over the past several weeks, this situation is not a quick fix. The Wolves eventual dynasty will not be conceived from this draft alone. It will require at least one more draft and many more savy personnel moves. Sure, it would have been traditional and cleaner to come away from this draft with a well rounded starting lineup on paper. What is more important, however, is hording talent, regardless of position. If that means two point guards, it means two point guards. If it means two power forwards, it means two power forwards. The minutes are there and the players will get every chance in the world to develop.