The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 2, 2009

For now, Kahn has Wolves on right path

You have to admit that when you heard that the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted point guards with the fifth and sixth picks in last week’s draft, you either scratched your head in disbelief or swore.

But if you subscribe to the theory that any publicity is good publicity, you’d have to give new Wolves’ general manager David Kahn an A+ for generating talk about the franchise over the last week.

At first glance, taking point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with the team’s first draft choices seems ludicrous. The team has so many needs that it seems like a huge mistake to load up on one position so high in the draft.

But the fact that the Timberwolves have so few legitimate players is the reason that drafting Rubio and Flynn, if you truly believe those were the best available talents, makes some sense. The Wolves just need to acquire quality players, regardless of position, because it’s going to be a few seasons before this team has a chance to be relevant in the NBA.

Rubio, the 18-year-old from Spain, has been deemed a game-changer, compared to Pete Maravich because of his mastery and deception with the ball. Flynn is known more as a grinder, defensive stopper who doesn’t mind getting knocked around. Kahn thinks these two could someday play together effectively; maybe he’s right.

Granted, if Kevin McHale had made these draft picks, there would have been bedlam. In McHale’s 15 years as the chief decision-maker, he drafted only three players who performed above their spot in the draft: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Brandon Roy. And he traded Allen and Roy almost before they put on the cap and walked onto the stage at the draft.

Kahn gets something of a break here because nobody knows how this is going to turn out. It seems like Flynn is destined to stay here, and Kahn has made no secret of his love for Flynn’s game, especially on the defensive end.

If Rubio stays overseas and never plays in the NBA, or if he joins the Wolves and just isn’t as good as hyped, then it was a mistake. If Rubio joins the team and becomes a star, or if he’s traded to another team for a more talented player, then it was a cagey move.

Kahn’s legacy may ultimately be defined by what happened in his first draft, but given the enormous task of rebuilding this roster, there’s surely more moves to come. If nothing else, the new GM has gotten fans to talk about the Wolves at a time when there’s been little to say.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353 or e-mail at