The Minnesota Timberwolves allowed 100 points per game last year. They need to improve their defense if they want to have a chance at the 6, 7 or 8th spots in the playoffs. Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders in the NBA and the Timberwolves have good size on the perimeter. In the 2012 NBA Draft they need to find a player that has size to protect the rim. Having the 18th pick, the best big men available may be Meyers Leonard, John Henson or Fab Melo. Will the Timberwolves change their draft history and think big and draft a center that could improve their defense?
On offense, the Timberwolves averaged 97 points last year, which was 10th best in the NBA. They have good balance on offense. If the Timberwolves draft Leonard or Melo, they would be offensive projects. But they both can finish plays around the rim if another player drives and passes them the ball. Also they can get offensive rebounds to give the Timberwolves extra possessions. Henson would likely be the best offensive player. He has post moves, an improving shot and passing ability that can be at NBA level. Henson’s big issue is his lack of strength and he likely wouldn’t be able to guard a big-bodied post.
Defensively, the Timberwolves need a rim protector who is athletic with size. The starting center is Nikola Pekovic who is showing good signs offensively but is struggling on the defensive end. By drafting one of the three they can add depth to their center position and upgrade their defense. Leonard, Henson and Melo can block shots well and play good pick and roll defense. They have good size, length, speed, and timing to block shots from guards and centers. Also, they all are athletic enough to show and hedge on the pick and roll and get back to their guy on defense. If the Timberwolves draft either of these players they would add good depth to their center position and could be a better defensive team in the future.
During the draft, if Leonard and Henson are already taken at the 18th pick, for which the odds are pretty good. The Timberwolves can trade back to picks 23rd -26th to draft Melo, since Melo is not a good value at the 18th pick. If the they can’t trade the pick and Leonard and Henson are taken they should take the best player available which could be Mo Harkless, Terrence Ross or Evan Fournier and then trade players after the draft to get their center.
The Timberwolves should add depth to the center position to become better defensively. By becoming better defensively they would be likely to grab the 7th or 8th spot in the playoffs.
Steven Siewert is a guest correspondent for NetScouts Basketball. The opinions in this article are his and do not necessarily reflect the view of NetScouts Basketball.