Humble Victor Oladipo will soon be a lottery pick
Earlier this month we read some tea leaves and interpreted whether the Timberwolves' interest in Indiana guard Victor Oladipo plus an apparent willingness to deal rising third-year forward Derrick Williams made a trade with the Wizards possible.
Now almost 48 hours until Thursday's NBA Draft, there is reason to ponder such a scenario again. Certainly better than wasting time on this rumor.
Start with this: The basic premise -- as previously constructed by yours truly based on deduction, not a specific this-for-that rumor -- involves the swapping of first-round picks (the Wizards' three for Minny's No. 9) with Washington possibly adding one of its young reserve forwards while receiving Williams, the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Wizards could move down six spots and still add needed pieces. For instance, a third guard like Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, a wing threat like UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad or a big man like Indiana's Cody Zeller or Pittsburgh's Steven Adams. For a team needing immediate help (Williams) and depth (the rookie) plus with nobody seemingly in love with the top of the draft, it's certainly a scenario worth pondering.
Next: Whether the Timberwolves ultimately draft a wing guard in the first round or not, that is what they want above all, according to multiple sources. There should be viable options at nine, including McCollum and Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but not Oladipo or Kansas' Ben McLemore. Neither the defensive specialist nor the shooting phenom is projected outside the top 6-7 picks. According to a league source, adding Oladipo or McLemore is Minnesota's desire. Based on league chatter, the hard-working Oladipo is rising into top-3 consideration while McLemore's value is taking a hit due to suspect conditioning at team workouts.
More Oladipo: ESPN's Chad Ford posted a series of draft/trade rumors including one about the Timberwolves.
"The Wolves continue to try to move higher up in the draft to get their hands on Victor Oladipo. They're offering Derrick Williams, the No. 9 and the No. 26 pick to move up, but so far haven't found a taker. New Wolves GM Flip Saunders is enamored with Oladipo."
No specific team is mentioned in the rumor, but if Oladipo is a top-5 pick*, then the Timberwolves have some climbing to do. Also, the Wizards have said they are unlikely to keep their three draft picks. One scenario, they trade No. 38 and 54 for a veteran - or a first round selection. At 26, Washington could add needed backcourt depth with a shooter like Cal's Allen Crabbe or find a scoring point guard like Virginia Tech's Erick Green or a future rim-protector in Kansas' Jeff Withey.
*Ford has the former DeMatha product as the No. 2 selection for the Magic while Draft Express has him going fifth to the Suns. Hence, Oladipo is a top-5 pick, we think.
*But wait, is Williams really available? Former Wizards coach and new Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders met with the local media on Monday. Here's an excerpt from Star-Tribune columnist Mark Rand's latest:
"Saunders has been pretty transparent in his early tenure as the new personnel boss. Then again, this could be the time to start throwing out smokescreens.
He might be saying things like Derrick Williams would be a top 3 pick in this draft if he was coming out now (which Saunders did say Monday) in an attempt to leverage his trade value. He could be talking about the price of moving up being too steep in order to put other teams on notice that they need to bring the offers down. And if he really liked Caldwell-Pope, he might be inclined to hide his cards (it wasn't like he spoke ill of him, it just sounded to us like Saunders liked McCollum more)."
Yes, Saunders could indeed be a pure straight-talker here, but...if he's saying Williams would be a top-3 pick in this draft, he might also be trying to convince a team holding one of the first three picks of that rationale. At the very least it sounds like he's talking directly to some other decision maker (also worthy noting that ESPN's Andy Katz reported on Monday that Orlando, holders of the No. 2 pick, worked out Zeller this week. Since Zeller is not a candidate at two, this could be a sign the Magic are contemplating a trade down.).
Most indications have the Wizards staying pat and using the No. 3 selection for their own needs. At that spot, there will be various options, but no rookie offers NBA experience. Williams hasn't lived up to his lofty draft status, but he's shown there is a spot for him in the NBA. In Washington he could move back to his natural power forward slot after playing lots at small forward for Minnesota.
We may never know how close a deal comes to happening - or if even discusses in depth. But, if Oladipo is available at three and the Timberwolves do in fact make the "offer," it will be interesting to see which of their options Washington's decision-makers prefers.