On October 16th, the Minnesota Timberwolves will make the first selection of the 2020 NBA draft. Unlike last year, having the number one pick this year doesn’t guarantee a star. There won’t be a Zion Williamson-type player for mock drafts to stamp at number one. Instead, the Timberwolves will have to choose between two guards. These guards are LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards. Apart from them, it’s unlikely James Wiseman is chosen because of Karl-Anthony Towns playing the same position. Hence Ball and Edwards as the most likely candidates to go first. But who should the Timberwolves draft and pair with Towns and D’Angelo Russell for the future?
Who Should The Minnesota Timberwolves Draft?
Making the Case For LaMelo Ball
If the Timberwolves select Ball first, that gives Russell another ball-dominant guard to co-exist with. Now whether or not they could co-exist is a fair question. And more importantly, how would that selection affect an already poor defense? In terms of defensive rating, the team was 21st this year. But from the 2014-15 season through the 2018-19 season, they finished 24th or worse on a yearly basis. This season, the Timberwolves regressed and gave up an unacceptable 117.5 points a game. Ball’s defense is one of his biggest knocks against him. He has the size to be a good defender at 6′ 8″ and does get a lot of steals. But he takes a ton of chances going for steals in the half-court, and can mentally check out when guarding his man. On the bright side for Ball, he just turned 19 years old. Since most of his poor defense comes from mental mistakes, there’s room for improvement.
While Ball’s defense develops, his playmaking ability and scoring would be his main contributions. The offensive firepower of a Ball, Towns, and Russell big three would be a big strength. Both Ball and Russell can play off the ball and create their own offense. The Timberwolves would also have two lead guards to bring the ball up the court and run the offense. The most plausible scenario would be for Ball to run point guard while Russell plays at shooting guard. Ball’s passing ability is truly fantastic, and he’s a fearless driver. A lot of offense could be generated from Ball driving and passing the ball out to an open shooter. Ultimately, if the Timberwolves draft Ball they’ll be rewarded on offense. An offense that shined in 12 games with Russell will become shinier and more open. But defensively, they could have to be patient and wait for him to mature.
Making The Case For Anthony Edwards
Alternatively, Edwards is more ready to contribute now but has questions surrounding his offense. Edwards is also just 19 years old but has a year of college experience under his belt. Unlike Ball who’d play point guard and distribute, Edwards would play on the wing and be more of a scorer. But like Ball, Edwards has a lot of the same traits in his offensive game. He’s not a reliable three-point shooter yet either; he shot 29.4 percent in college. But Edwards has a good handle on the ball and finishes through contact. His athleticism is impressive and will be a big part of his game as he grows into his body. A big factor for Edwards will be his shot selection. In the paint and mid-range, he proved he could be lethal in college. In fact, he made 50 percent of his two-pointers. But he settled for too many threes (7.7 average attempts). Patience will be needed for Edwards to become his best-self offensively.
The similarities between Ball and Edwards continue when evaluating Edwards on defense. A lot of lapses Edwards makes on defense are mental and can be fixed with time and coaching. Edwards has the size to be a good defensive rebounder in the league. In addition, his on-ball defense is very good already and he’s also capable of getting steals. Like his offensive game, Edwards will need some time to develop his defense. But then again, how many 19-year-olds don’t need time on defense? Regardless, Edwards will be ready to start and contribute come opening night.
Who Should The Timberwolves Draft?
Although he’s a work in progress, Edwards is further along in his development than Ball. Most importantly, the Timberwolves need to focus on defense if they want to start contending for the playoffs. Offensively, the trio of Towns, Russell, and Malik Beasley can carry the day if needed. While Ball’s offense would be a big boost, it’s not a need. While outside of Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver, the roster is in major need of defenders. Is Edwards going to be the missing piece on that end of the floor? Not exactly. But his skill and potential are too high to miss out on.
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