June 29, 2008
Photo Credit: Icon SMI
As a Minnesotan I was extremely apprehensive heading into this draft. Anybody who roots for the Timberwolves should be nervous about every draft headed by Kevin McHale. He has a history of botching these things and a stubborn refusal to simply take the best player available. It started back in 1996 when McHale swapped Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury and continued without fail into recent years with draft-night decisions like trading the rights to Brandon Roy for Randy Foye and selecting Rashad McCants over Danny Granger. Let’s not even get into the Joe Smith fiasco that cost them five first-round draft picks (even if two of the picks were ultimately returned).
In between those more publicized gaffes McFail has compiled a first-round resume that includes first-round busts Ndudi Ebi, William Avery, Radoslav Nesterovic and Paul Grant. In his inexplicably long tenure in the Wolves’ front office the former Celtic star has only made two great moves: drafting Kevin Garnett and trading Kevin Garnett.
The primary reason last summer’s trade of Garnett was a success is that Minnesota netted future All Star Al Jefferson. He will be the second superstar power forward in Timberwolves history, but it appears McHale is intent on misusing his talents as well by forcing Big Al to center and refusing to surround him with complementary talent.
There was little secret that Kevin Love was the apple of McHale’s eye heading into the draft, so I was shocked when Minnesota went ahead and passed on the big man out of UCLA. I was surprised that McHale actually did was he was supposed to do and didn’t try to get cute. I was relieved, to be honest. O.J. Mayo was the consensus third-best prospect in this draft and he fit a team need as a wing scorer.
Then just hours later McHale did get cute and traded for Kevin Love, a player who is by all accounts completely redundant with Al Jefferson. For those few hundred people out there who actually watched Wolves games religiously last year it was painfully obvious that Al Jefferson thrived as a power forward and struggled as a center.
This move will force Big Al into the middle, a position where he is both uncomfortable and significantly less effective.
After the jump: Why moving Al Jefferson to center is a crying shame…