With the NBA Draft just weeks away, Wiz of Awes will be doing a mock draft, which we’ll break down each pick for every lottery team, including the Washington Wizards. [Completed Mock Draft: 1) Cleveland, 2) Orlando, 3) Washington Wizards, 4) Charlotte, 5) Phoenix, 6) New Orleans 7) Sacramento 8) Detroit]
9) Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
Basic Stats: 18.5 PPG, 7.1 REB, 1.8 AST, 2.0 STL
In 2012-13, the Wolves finished 25th in offensive rating (102.9 points per 100 possessions) while playing at the 11th fastest pace in the league. I could be wrong, but looking at the roster, it seems as if the team’s two or three best shooters are frontcourt players. To put it bluntly, the T-Wolves need help scoring, particularly in the backcourt. Ricky Rubio, while improved, is by no means a consistent shooter. While Alexy Shved showed promise last season, the shooting guards position is pretty bare with Luke Ridnour (I’m stretching here) and Brandon Roy, who has since been waived by Minnesota. Assuming Kevin Love comes back healthy and Nikola Pekovic – a restricted free agent – is re-signed to go along with Andrei Kirilenko and the puzzling Derrick Williams, the frontcourt appears to be in solid shape.
I know the old adage is to never pick for need, but the Wolves appear to be pretty close to putting together a playoff team. The first act in the new adventures of old Flip Saunders has to be to get somebody that can put the ball in the hoop. I’m taking a chance here and going with Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the ninth pick.
The 2012-13 SEC Player of the Year may be a bit of a reach, but appears to be rising up draft boards in the last week or so. After a rough freshman season and a slow start to his sophomore season, KCP seemed played well for the Bulldogs, averaging 18.5 points per game and a strong seven boards per contest on a team that seemed to consistently have him on “pass it to Will” status. He improved in just about every category from his freshman season, including shooting 37.5 % from three last season and improving his free throw shooting from 65% as freshman to 80% as a sophomore despite shooting twice as many free throws. Measured at 6’6, KCP fits the “classic size for an NBA shooting guard” bill. His on-court athleticism seemed evident even though his combine measurements would say otherwise. A couple of things that stood out for me on the defensive side of the ball: his defensive rebounding percentage was 19.7% last season, and his defensive rating was 90.8. This tells me that he may be more than a one-trick pony at the next level. I’ve seen it written that he has a good work ethic, so the thought here is that he will continue to improve his game.
Again, this pick may be a bit of a reach for the Wolves, but I see Caldwell-Pope as a bit of a sleeper in this draft, as at the very least he should help the team in the scoring department. If he can come in and be a solid complementary piece for Minnesota, they have the makings of a really nice nucleus.