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Dec 19th

Wolves to add #1 pick Wiggins to talented young roster

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andrew wiggins huntington cc bryan horowitzThe Minnesota Timberwolves have a "handshake agreement" to trade star power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers (yes the team with Lebron James) in exchange for this years' #1 pick Andrew Wiggins from the University of Kansas. Also likely in the deal, are draft picks and a valuable young forward from the Philadelphia 76ers named Thaddeus Young. As with any big ticket trade, opinions vary, but it is always valuable to consider the obvious.

I repeat: Andrew Wiggins was the #1 pick this year. Somehow in the back-n-forth evaluation, which involves the hard evidence of Kevin Love's established resume, many seem to have forgotten that we're talking about the #1 pick. Love has proven to be worth all the hype bestowed on him when drafted by the Wolves out of UCLA in 2008. Unfortunately in the last time the Wolves made the playoffs was five years before Love arrived.

The goal for any franchise should be to win a championship. Keepin' it real, in order for the Wolves to win a championship it will require some very special stars to align. Kevin Love hasn't had the impact to suggest he's the right star to guide this franchise to heights seen before. He might be an ideal fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that speculation may be pre-mature as well.

The Wolves have an interesting mix of talent, and a brand new (though old) regime to coach them. New coach Flip Saunders had extreme success in his previous stint with the team (1995-2005), going 411-326 overall, with eight straight appearances in the playoffs. That wave rode on the athletic shoulders of the teams' 1995 #1 draft pick nicknamed "The Kid". Kevin Garnett looked very much like a kid in those days, as does young Wiggins now. Wolves' fans can hold faith that history in this world has a tendency to repeat itself.

History returns in contemporary packaging. While Garnett had a mix of uniquely gifted teammates that assisted in the team's glory years, Wiggins will potentially have the same.

Though point guard Ricky Rubio has muddled through his first three full seasons, he still seems a committed competitor, and the type of player that could benefit from synergy with a good coach. Flip Saunders is a good coach.

Rubio also has the style of play that meshes well with high-flying, athletic teammates.

Recent years of collegiate draft picks have not panned out in superstar fashion for the Wolves, since Love's arrival. Yet early billing for 2014 first round pick Zack LaVine (13th overall pick, UCLA) minimally suggests that ticket purchases will deliver a complimentary dunk contest worth the price of admission. Surprise second round pick Glenn Robinson III (40th overall, Michigan) provides the team a savvy young shooter with NBA family pedigree. A decisive shooter has long been missing from the Wolves repertoire.

Efficient veterans Corey Brewer, Nikola Pekovic, Ronny Turiaf, and recent signee Mo Williams could easily provide a decent foundation to support the team's youth movement. The inclusion of Thaddeus Young in the trade scenario could especially go a long way to bolster both offensive and defensive production.

All together it seems to come down to coaching for the Wolves, because the talent is young, vigorous, and projects to be very coachable. On the other hand, the Western Conference is a vigorous challenge for all NBA teams.

The young squad will likely suffer from frequent "old school" lessons from established teams.

As they say: "talent wins out." We'll see about that, but I do believe the Wolves have enough talent, and coaching experience, for a surprise run at MAKING the playoffs. Plus Wiggins is from Canada, so -50degrees won't hinder the fans dunking pleasure. Timberwolves games should be fun this year.
 

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