Souhan: Boring? Sure. But Connelly maximized value in rational first draft

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

I miss David Kahn.

Kahn, the infamous former Timberwolves general manager, would have turned Thursday night's NBA draft into a sitcom. There would have been tears, and the gnashing of teeth. There would have been clowns. The scary kind, and the other kind.

He may have drafted five point guards from five different countries, and one or two may have been willing to play for the Wolves.

Instead, on Thursday, Timberwolves fans learned that they may be bored on draft night for many years to come.

Tim Connelly's first personnel move as the Timberwolves' new basketball boss was…rational?

He traded the 19th pick in the first round to Memphis for the 22nd and 29th picks. He chose Auburn center Walker Kessler, then traded up to the 26th pick to take Duke wing Wendell Moore.

Boring. Maybe effective. But boring.

Kessler is a large presence known for shot-blocking and defense. He should be a solid rebounder. He's the kind of player who should be what the Wolves need, if they intend on having Karl-Anthony Towns play less center. That's if Kessler is ready for the NBA, which is not a sure thing.

Kessler is the antithesis of an exciting pick.

He will not make anyone forget Anthony Edwards. His job is to make everyone forget Paul Grant.

Moore is a talented wing who improved dramatically in his third season at Duke. He would make sense if the Wolves wind up trading Malik Beasley, or simply want to improve their three-point shooting.

Connelly trading down appears to have been the proper way to play this draft. There were a slew of intriguing players available at 19 who were still available at 22 and 26. Connelly theoretically maximized his value. He probably also excited incoming owner Mark Lore by making aggressive moves.

Late Thursday night, Connelly met with reporters on the practice court. He couldn't discuss players involved in trades, so he spoke in generalities, praising the draftees' character. He also admitted that they might not contribute much as rookies, and said that their presence probably wouldn't alter any other offseason plans, such as potential trades.

"To say that their background is stellar would be an understatement,'' he said.

When the local team is picking No. 19, you're not going to come out of draft night with much certainty. Kessler could be useful. Moore is intriguing, because he was a dynamic wing last year but could develop point-guard skills.

The most interesting aspect of these picks is what they might do to the Wolves' trade intentions.

Kessler's arrival could keep them from pursuing a big man via trade. The selection of Moore doesn't seem to facilitate a trade of current point guard D'Angelo Russell. The 26th pick in the draft isn't going to change positions and become the starting point guard on a playoff team.

What's most problematic about Connelly's arrival is that he's not going to be nearly as easy to make fun of as so many of his predecessors.

He's not going to call a failed NBA player "manna from heaven.'' He's not going to take anyone resembling Paul Grant or Ndudi Ebi. He's not going to make a flurry of moves in the second round to save money, then release a flow chart explaining the brilliance of his strategy.

(Yes, some of these are meant to ridicule Kahn. But not all of them. When he wasn't taking Kevin Garnett, Kevin McHale could match Kahn for draft-day silliness.)

The Kessler pick is an indication that Connelly has decided that Towns should spend at least part of his time on the court playing stretch forward and not center.

Kessler is a center who will be expected to provide defense and defensive rebounding.

This is an old-school move, adding a traditional post known for defense to a team that got beat up on the defensive boards last season.

He'll have to prove he's an NBA player.

And now Towns will have to prove he can chase mobile, shooting forwards on defense.

Towns has many strengths. Chasing shooters at the three-point line is not one of them, or hasn't been to date.

If there was a surprise from the Wolves, it was that they didn't target Ohio State forward EJ. Liddell with one of their picks. They could have taken him with the 40th pick in the draft, but they traded that pick away.