The Minnesota Timberwolves do not have a pick going into this year’s draft. Lost in the hubbub over whether or not the Wolves would retain their top-three protected pick this year is that Minnesota also sent their second-round pick to the Golden State Warriors in the D’Angelo Russell–Andrew Wiggins trade.
This is not the worst case for this young roster, though, because they currently have 12 players under contract going into next season. They also have the second-youngest roster in the league behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Gersson Rosas has a track record of finding players who fit his scheme in the draft, regardless of position, going back to his days with the Houston Rockets. Even without a pick in this draft, he needs to fill one roster spot with a young player who has upside who could play a large role off the bench or as a secondary piece. We have seen this in recent examples of Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell.
Every deep draft possesses a surplus of second-round sleepers. He needs to find one, which means trading back in for a pick.
Ayayi is a 6’5”, 180 lb. combo guard out of Gonzaga via France.
He is one of the better-known names in the second round because he was a huge role player on Gonzaga, whose only loss was to Baylor in the National Championship.
Ayayi, 21, is a skilled role player with 3-and-D potential. The Frenchman has shown secondary ball-handler traits and the ability to get to the rim. He has the capacity to fit in with any team in the league; this would not be a systematic fit for the Wolves. The swing trait comes down to how a team evaluates his defense. He has a very slight frame that could limit him when attacking the basket.
He profiles as a player who can come off the bench or in crunch time to hit an open three, lock down an opposing secondary player, or create offense for the secondary playmaker. He reminds me a lot of Donte DiVincenzo.
If Ayayi falls anywhere around picks 40 to 50, Rosas should trade back into the draft. He is significantly undervalued in my eyes. However, he could easily be taken late in the first round.
Ayayi’s skill set reminds me a lot of what Rosas was looking for in Jarrett Culver. By taking Ayayi, Rosas could heal the wounds of that lottery selection and add an experienced role player to this roster.
Queta is a Portuguese center out of Utah State who had impressive measurements at the NBA combine.
- Height: 6’10.75” (7’.025” with shoes)
- Wingspan: 7’4.25″
- Standing Reach: 9’3.5″
- Weight: 225 lbs.
He was a three-year starter and is projected to be a big-bodied shot-blocker and a traditional center.
Queta could fill a backup center role as a shot-blocker behind Karl-Anthony Towns and play next to Naz Reid if needed. He’s a traditional center who could help the Wolves with rebounding as well as shot-blocking and low-post defending, two categories in which they ranked in the bottom third last season.
His comp is a less athletic, taller Robert Williams III. He is definitely more of a project than an instant contributor. His lob-threat ability could earn him minutes immediately.
He has been mocked early in the second round, but if other traditional big men fly up boards ahead of him, Rosas should dip into the 40s and 50s to select him.
Edwards is a strong and agile power forward out of Pepperdine, a small D1 school in the WCC, who also attended the NBA combine.
- Height: 6’7” (6’8” with shoes)
- Wingspan: 6’11.25″
- Standing reach: 8’10”
- Weight: 203 lbs.
A three-year starter, Kessler was an effective shooter who also has the frame to be an impactful 3-and-D role player.
Kessler struggles with his playmaking and on-ball defense. He also played against lesser competition in the WCC, where Gonzaga is the only true powerhouse team. He’s mostly garnered interest from scouts because of his 3-and-D potential.
Rosas should monitor him in the draft and pounce if he drops. He’s a lanky forward with a similar build to Jaden McDaniels who would be a great fit in Minnesota.
Any of these three prospects have the potential to make a meaningful impact as role players and provide a lot of value if they can be signed to four-year contracts on the rookie scale. Picks 40-50 are the sweet spot for Rosas, especially because he’ll have to give up something of value to trade back into the draft.