And then there were eight. Eight teams that will pick in the 2013 NBA Draft before the Minnesota Timberwolves in a year where the incoming college talent is either spread out or sparse, depending on who you ask. Following a Draft Lottery bereft of any surprises, president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and the rest of the front office can tailor their evaluations to a now locked-in first-round spot, the No. 9 overall pick, and subsequent selections. This year's class isn't perceived to contain the depth of those past, where names like Joakim Noah, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitizki and Tracy McGrady were available eight picks in. Immediate help via the draft will likely come to the Twin Cities in niche form. But that's just fine, Saunders said, because the Timberwolves' needs are many. "I think it's the opposite of thin," Saunders said of the talent pool he and his staff are about to delve into. "I think it's balanced. No, you don't have an Alonzo Mourning, a Patrick Ewing, a Shaquille O'Neal or a Derek Rose. You don't have that one player that singlehandedly might change the face of your franchise. But even below us, I think you'll see a player taken at 12 that some might take at six. Some players are gonna slide." The NBA's poorest 3-point shooting team a year ago, Minnesota requires a perimeter threat or two. Some hefty help in the low post looks like the next-highest item on Saunders' priority list. The only spot the team's new general manager won't look at seriously is point guard – the Timberwolves already have enough of those in supply to maybe even deal one this offseason. "I think the only position we really have a log jam is at point guard," said Saunders, who inherited a group that went 31-51 last season. "When you win 31 games, you put pretty much everything on the table." The popular move is for Saunders to snag a shooter, someone who can come off the bench and work alongside step-out power forward Kevin Love in hopes of bettering Minnesota's 30.5-percent 3-point clip of a year ago. The draft appears better stocked at the shooting guard position than small forward to achieve this end. With Indiana's Victor Oladipo likely off the board before the Timberwolves pick, Lehigh product C.J. McCollum might be the next-best available option. The senior shot 51.6 percent from 3 as a senior, but that came on just 64 attempts in a season cut short Jan. 5 by a broken left foot. A preseason all-American, McCollum was NCAA Division I's leading scorer at the time of his injury. But there's another caveat: he primarily manned the point at Lehigh but projects as an off-guard in the NBA. Saunders didn't get a chance to interview McCollum at last week's NBA draft combine in Chicago but said he was looking forward to bringing him in for pre-draft workouts. The former Timberwolves coach has spoken highly of Oladipo, who would provide a better-rounded and less liable presence on the perimeter should he slide to ninth. A true shooting guard with a 33-inch standing vertical leap, Oladipo scored 13.6 points per game and made 44.1 percent of his 68 3s in leading Indiana to the Sweet 16. His outside game is complemented by a keen ability slash and finish at the rim.
Timberwolves focusing on 3-point shooters in draft
Fox Sports North | May 25