Dion Waiters, No. 18 (Mock)
The TWolves take a backcourt mate for Ricky Rubio.
by Ed Isaacson / @nbadraftblog
Early on in the condensed ‘11-12 NBA season, Minnesota looked much different than the Timberwolves of recent years. Kevin Love continued to take his game to another level, and the addition of Ricky Rubio seemed to be even more than Minnesota’s fans could have hoped. Add to that, the emergence of Nikola Pekovic down low, and the potential of last season’s No. 2 pick, Derrick Williams, and things were looking bright in Minnesota.
Health issues took over though, including the loss of Rubio to a season-ending ACL tear, and the Timberwolves’ weaknesses became glaring once again. Defense was a major issue, especially stopping penetration from the perimeter, as well as being able to knock down perimeter shots consistently.
With those weaknesses in mind, and the hopes of a healthy Rubio, Love and Pekovic in the upcoming season, the Timberwolves would be best served by looking to add a shooting guard or small forward, who is both capable of knocking down open jumpers and playing strong perimeter defense.
While Terrence Ross may fit this description well, a player has slipped down the Draft board who can also do both of these things, and has the potential to do much more.
With the 18th pick of the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…
Dion Waiters from Syracuse.
Waiters may be one of the greatest benefactors of pre-Draft hype in the current class, but at the 18th pick in the SLAMonline Draft, he is a phenomenal value pick, and the Timberwolves will gladly take a risk on his potential.
A top-level athlete who has shown the ability to hit long-range jumpers off the catch or dribble, Waiters is also one of the best on-ball defenders in this Draft. Yes, he may have only been a sixth man at Syracuse, but he still averaged about 24 minutes a game, and could often be found on the court in crunch time for the Orange.
Waiters does need to work a lot more on his shot selection and consistency, but with Rubio at the point, Waiters should get a lot of open looks. He is also very skilled at creating shots as a ballhandler in pick-and-roll situations, though I don’t think he will ever settle into a point guard role unless his decision making improves significantly.
The other significant area that makes Waiters valuable is that he has already shown the ability to come off the bench and be a significant contributor. Having this flexibility with Waiters’ role could allow the Timberwolves the option to experiment with different lineups to maximize Rubio’s and Love’s abilities.
Waiters will still need to show that he has shaken his consistency issues, but his ability to pressure the ball and create offense off of his defense will be a major step up for the Minnesota backcourt. As long as he isn’t pressured to do too much on offense early on in his career, Waiters should emerge as Rubio’s prime backcourt mate for at least a few seasons.
|2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft|
|1||Hornets||Anthony Davis||16||Rockets||Tyler Zeller|
|2||Bobcats||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||17||Mavs||Fab Melo|
|3||Wizards||Brad Beal||18||TWolves||Dion Waiters|
|13||Suns||Perry Jones III||28||Thunder|