NBA rumors: Timberwolves prefer to trade No. 1 draft pick for win-now player

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Report: T-Wolves prefer to trade No. 1 pick for win-now player originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

All indications are that LaMelo Ball is not at the top of the Warriors' list for their No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft, and the ideal scenario for Golden State likely is one in which he is picked first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

However, it sounds as if that's not the Timberwolves' current preference.

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported Wednesday that it's believed Minnesota has other plans for the first selection.

"Executives around the NBA say the Timberwolves prefer to trade down or out of this pick to bring in a win-now player to help Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell," O'Connor wrote in his updated mock draft. "If they stay at no. 1, (Anthony) Edwards brings a scoring skill set that would fit nicely in the backcourt next to Russell."

The Timberwolves have two big reasons to be competitive next season. First, they've appeared in a grand total of one playoff series since losing in the 2003-04 Western Conference finals. And secondly, they don't possess their own 2021 first-round pick.

That first-rounder, rather, belongs to the Warriors, which they acquired as part of the Russell-Andrew Wiggins trade last season. Minnesota's pick is top-three protected, meaning if it doesn't land within the first three overall selections, it conveys to Golden State. If Minnesota's 2021 first-round pick does fall within the first three overall selections, the Warriors will receive the Timberwolves' unprotected 2022 first-round pick.

Regardless of which draft prospect the Timberwolves would select at No. 1, it seems highly unlikely he would improve the team more than a "win-now" veteran. And given how loaded the 2021 draft is supposed to be, it wouldn't be the worst thing for Golden State if Minnesota did pull off such a trade.

On the other hand, should the Timberwolves stand pat and use the first overall pick for themselves, that might be even better for the Warriors. Minnesota would be expected to finish at or near the bottom of the Western Conference in that situation, and likely would be in line for a very high lottery pick in 2021. Generally speaking, the Warriors want the Timberwolves to be bad; just not too bad.

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And if the Timberwolves picked Ball first overall? All the better for Golden State. That would guarantee another prospect the Warriors presumably have rated higher would fall to them at the second pick. Of course, that would be the situation if Ball gets picked first, regardless of which team is making the selection.

The Timberwolves might want a "win-now" player, but considering there is no consensus top prospect in the draft, it seems unlikely they'll be able to acquire anyone capable of drastically improving the trajectory of the team in the immediate future. Regardless of what Minnesota does, it would appear the Warriors are in a good spot.

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