Charlo is a small forward formerly from Nevada who turns 27 next week. He is an athlete and defensive specialist, who has spent much of his professional career in the D-League. Last year, playing for the Reno Bighorns on account of his local ties, Charlo averaged 9.7ppg, 5.2rpg and 2.7apg. There were also a couple of near triple doubles in there, with statlines of 12/15/9 and 19/12/8, before a slow finish to the season dragged down his numbers. But for all his athleticism, Charlo struggles to score outside of the dunk. Sometimes he can slash to the basket, but there’s no jump shot there.
Wayne Ellington is Minnesota’s only shooting guard, and yet they still won’t play him. Ellington was forced (as were we) to watch Sasha Pavlovic and Damien Wilkins play a combined 2,462 minutes last season, while both playing really really badly (particularly Pavlovic, who was arguably the worst player in the league last year that actually played). And when he did get to play, he didn’t do especially well either improving as the season went on but finishing at only 6.6 points per game on 42% shooting. Nevertheless, Ellington shot 40% from three point range, which gives him a use on next year’s Timberwolves squad. (If he’s still there.)
This time last year, I claimed that Jonny Flynn was not much better than Ty Lawson. After one season, here’s how they stack up:
Flynn: 28.9 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 4.4 apg, 2.4 rpg, 1.0 spg, 2.9 topg, 41% shooting, 38% 3PT, .511% TS, 13.0 PER
Lawson: 20.2 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 rpg, 0.7 spg, 1.3 topg, 51% shooting, 41% 3PT, .600% TS, 16.5 PER
So I had a point.
There are other factors, of course. Lawson was playing for a good team; Flynn had Pavlovic and Wilkins play over 2,400 minutes alongside him. Lawson is a year and a half older; Flynn is only 21 and had to try and run an offence that didn’t really exist with a coach who wanted to install a triangle offence, but only for a while. These things are all true. But if and when they stop being true, and there’s still not much separation between them, I’m claiming that. It’s already far more accurate than my belief that Wayne Ellington could be the next Voshon Lenard. Whoops.
Lazar Hayward is a small forward backup, drafted by a team that absolutely did not need a small forward backup. Question; when you’ve just gone 15-67, should you really be in the market for role players? Should you not be drafting players with a shot to be something awesome, even when picking at the end of the first round? Because Hayward absolutely does not have that. Try to find some potential building blocks, THEN figure out the rest. That is not to say that anyone picked in this second round will obviously be a star, but Lazar Hayward’s upside is that of Adrian Griffin or Maurice Evans or something like that. Now not, eh?
Johnson makes it onto the team largely on account of his five year career at the University of Minnesota. He is a 6’7 small forward an NBA calibre athlete, who unfortunately is dependent upon his athleticism. Johnson blocks shots and wins possessions by free-roaming defensively, and rebounds well for his height; however, in a half court offence, there’s not a whole lot you can do with him. The same criticisms could also be levied at Stanley Robinson, and they didn’t stop him from being drafted 59th overall, but Robinson is bigger and better. Nevertheless, I hereby predict that Damian Johnson will perform more than respectably in Israel for his first professional season next year.
I am coming around on the idea that Corey Brewer and Wes Johnson can start together on the wings. Both are ideally small forwards, but between those two and Flynn, the Timberwolves get two ball handlers and enough shooting. Brewer probably won’t be able to defend all shooting guards, but I’d rather him do it than Johnson.
Of course, I am only assuming that this is the plan. They might start Luke Ridnour at point guard and bump Flynn to the two. Or bump Flynn to the bench and start Martell Webster at point. Or bench Kevin Love and start Ramon Sessions at power forward. Or bench all of them in favour of the seminal Darko/Love/Pekovic/Hollins/Stiemsma lineup. When you build a roster made of point guards, small forward and power forwards, and make no apparent effort to find any shooting guards, it’s hard to figure out the plan.
And they still should have taken DeMarcus Cousins.
Patrick O’Bryant has now spent four years in the NBA. In that time he has totalled 186 points, 127 rebounds and 126 fouls. Last year, O’Bryant played only 51 minutes all season for Toronto, and fouled 12 times in that span. O’Bryant really isn’t as talentless as his numbers suggest; he can make a few baskets around the rim and is a good shot-blocker. But to keep getting contracts,he’s going to have to get (and seize) a good opportunity. And to do that, he’s going to have to stop fouling.
Pargo was covered in the Bobcats summer league roster round-up of last week. He averaged 8.0 points and 5.3 assists for them in only 19 minutes per game.
Simmons was covered in the Sixers summer league roster round-up of last week. He averaged 6.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 turnovers per game.
Smith – the former Illinois guard who was suspended for a year and a half after driving into a tree while drunk and fleeing the scene, leaving his teammate for dead, and who was then kicked out of the program after being caught underage drinking again and violating his probation – got a second chance at Division II Southern Indiana. He averaged 21.6ppg, 4.1rpg and 4.6apg there last year – all while playing with an electronic ankle bracelet – and earned an invite to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament last month. However, he averaged only 5.6 points in 3 games there. Nothing about his resumé suggests the NBA is in his short or long term futures.
Stiemsma was picked up by the Timberwolves down the stretch of last season, and, as is often the custom for late season signings, was signed through following season as well. He is a great shot-blocker who didn’t do much in college, but who broke out last year to average 3.7 blocks in only 28 minutes per game in the D-League. Even though the Timberwolves just traded Al Jefferson, there might not be a lot of room for Stiemsma on next year’s roster; the spot he might otherwise have taken is filled by Ryan Hollins and his unnecessary contract. However, since this is the Timberwolves we’re talking about, they may have 20 to 30 more moves left in the gun yet, so no forecast can be entirely accurate.
Either way, he has more chance than Cedric Simmons does.
Thompson was a likely second-round draft candidate for much of the year, but as is often the case with steady-if-unspectacular seniors from big programs, he fell out of it as the season progressed. Thompson is an unathletic 6’8 power forward with decent offensive skills, both posting up and from the mid range, but who doesn’t have NBA size or athleticism. He also rarely passes and does not rebound very well, thus should not really be considered a candidate for making the Timberwolves roster.
Like Damian Johnson, Westbrook makes it here on account of his career at the University of Minnesota. Westbrook is a 6’0 scoring guard who averaged 12.8ppg, 2.6rpg and 2.2apg in his senior season in only 26.4 minutes per game. West brook shot 47% from the field and 41% from three point range; the question of why he did not play more is an entirely valid one. He’s a good shooter and a good athlete, able to get to the rim, an efficient scorer who takes good shots and a solid defensive player against similarly sized guards. But unfortunately, he’s only a scoring guard, not a point guard. At 6’0, that’s a problem. Westbrook is a good all around player, but not an NBA player.