'''"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take"—Wayne Gretzky’—Michael Scott’—Flip Saunders.'
This old sage parable (if it’s not Biblical, it should be—oodles and oodles of wisdom) pretty much sums up the Timberwolves 2014 Draft (you know, besides the two second rounders they sold, those are shots they didn’t take). The Wolves grabbed Zach LaVine, a 2 guard from UCLA, and former Gopher tormenter and Michigan Wolverine, Glenn Robinson III.
As for the LaVine pick, it was leaked on Wednesday that the Wolves had come to a quote-unquote handshake promise agreement to select LaVine with the 13th overall pick. Protip: don't let the rest of the league know who you want at 13. I don't know if the leak or the fact that LaVine was acquired without as much as a rumor of another team looking to move up to get him ahead of us or at least exploit us into giving something up is more troubling. They were all just like "fuck it, go ahead." As I discovered today reading twolvesblog.com, this wink wink should come as no surprise, as LaVine’s agent Bill Duffy and Flip were teammates at the U in the 70s and the franchise has shown nepotism towards Duffy clients in the past. There’s a reason this organization is so often referred to as “the country club.” In LaVine, the Wolves are essentially giving up the chance at getting a player that is ready or almost ready to contribute (cough Gary Harris cough) and instead are going with an uber-athletic project that is not *especially* skilled at any facet of the game yet. That’s fine if you’re a team that’s ready to blow everything up and rebuild, but with Pek, Rubio, and soon-to-be Klay Thompson the payroll for big money, that isn’t the direction the Wolves are showing that they’re trying to go--they're trying to compete. The other problem with the pick is that the Wolves have shown almost no ability to develop a player that they have drafted since Kevin Garnett, save for maybe Nikola Pekovic. So taking LaVine under the predisposition that he will be developed into a great shooting guard is presumptuous at best and delusional at worst. Flip said it himself, it’s a swing for the fences pick.
As for their second pick, I’m actually feeling really good about the apparent objective the Wolves had. They took Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III, who like LaVine is super duper athletic, and also super raw. However, the difference is that in the second round, those are the kinds of swing for the fences hacks that you should be taking. Some say he’s a first round talent, and I just think he’s a smart lottery ticket that was snatched up in a “what do we have to lose” manner.
The overarching problem with this franchise lies in ownership and upper management. Flip Saunders’ actions have shown that he isn’t sure whether the Wolves are willing to blow things up and go for a rebuild, but keeping in mind that he has named himself the head coach after one hell of a head coaching search, I would lean towards the idea that he wants to win. Which is the problem with the LaVine pick (which is complete potential) in the context of the impeding Love trade (getting Klay Thompson is a win now move, albeit a questionable one). With this kind of inconsistency coupled with Flip having more job security than a tyrant in a totalitarian state (he’s a fucking owner for God’s sakes, not like they can fire him, EVER), I fear the Wolves are destined for years of 35 wins and 9th overall picks.