Round One Pick No.5 – Kevin Love
Round Two Pick No.31 – Kevin Pekovic
Again I’m leaving the trade part of this alone and talking solely about the guys they ended up getting from the draft. I’ll talk about the trade part of it elsewhere, thinking Minny made a mistake.
I’m a big admirer of Kevin Love and rank him as the third best prospect in the draft. He’s a very talented big man with solid athleticism (good mobility, quickness and elevation) and solid size (6-9, 250lbs, 8-10 standing reach). He’s fundamentally the most sound player in the draft. Love was phenomenal in college leading UCLA to the Final Four while scoring 18ppg snatching 10.6rpg and showing off his beautiful passing touch. He has a good post game and a terrific jump shot from midrange and the perimeter. Love should be an awesome threat on the pick and pop in the NBA game, especially with his big body screens. He’s a very intelligent player and team first type of guy. His defense is a work in progress but I believe he’ll become a solid defender in the NBA although never a standout defensively, reason being he has too much smarts and enough athleticism to get the job done defensively. He’s an excellent rebounder and should put in quality board work in the pros.
The one worry about his game in college was how well would he do against NBA athletes and the response from his college performances weren’t great … especially when Joey Dorsey turned off the lights on Love in the tourney. With his diversity and range of skills he should be fine in the pros, especially if he’s not counted on as one of the top two scorers in the team.
Long term potential? I think he’ll be a borderline All-Star with the potential for more. He’s a very good player. He’ll help Minnesota straight away and form a good offensive partnership with Al Jefferson early on. Unfortunately they’re mix of below par defense will be awful together, at least until the Wolves form a great perimeter defense to protect them.
Pekovic is a very interesting player. He just signed a long term contract worth €4.5mil a year in Greece which when accounting for exchange rates and tax benefits in Greece for athletes must be coming close to $10mil a year. In other words nobody was willing to touch him in the first round because he was never coming over on a rookie contract. Otherwise, Pekovic could have been a top 5 pick in this draft. So the Wolves got a complete steal by owning the first pick in the second round. They’ll have some cap space in upcoming years and should be able to tempt him.
Pekovic is a 6-11 240lb big man who likes to muscle people around inside. He’s a low post scorer who lit up the Euroleague for 16ppg and 7rpg. He’s got an excellent body and great hands. Nikola is a very talented low post scorer with plenty of moves down on the block. He has a good midrange game and is an efficient scorer. He’s also a quality rebounder on both ends. Widely considered the best big man in Europe.
There’s still some concerns about his best position when he arrives in the NBA, should he play center or power forward but it’ll likely be center considering Big Al and Love are already on board. There’s also concenrs about his defensive ability where he needs to put in work.
Conclusion: The Timberwolves had a good draft haul although I’m not sure it was their best possible haul. I thought that OJ Mayo and Mario Chalmers who left in two separate trades were excellent choices and better for the Wolves future. Pekovic looks quite the steal.