The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 27, 2013

Wolves wheel and deal during NBA draft


The Wolves made the trade after watching their most coveted shooting guards — Victor Oladipo of Indiana, Ben McLemore of Kansas and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia — go off the board ahead of them.

New team President Flip Saunders has made adding perimeter shooting his top priority for a team that was dead last in the NBA in 3-point shooting last season. Muhammad shot 37.7 percent on 3s at UCLA last season, but the Wolves could still be in the market for more shooting with pick Nos. 21 and 26 in the first round. They also have two picks in the second round.

Adding a shot-blocking presence in the paint was another priority for the Wolves with restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic and All-Star Kevin Love not traditional defensive rim protectors. Dieng will certainly help that. He averaged 2.5 blocks and 9.4 rebounds per game for the national champions last season.

Roberson averaged 10.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game for the Buffaloes last season. The 6-foot-7 Roberson shot 51.6 percent from the field and will give the Thunder some depth in the frontcourt behind starting power forward Serge Ibaka.

The Timberwolves also received a future second-round pick in the deal.

Saunders was hired last month to take over for David Kahn, who was fired in large part because of a woeful performance in the draft. Kahn had major misses with Wes Johnson and Jonny Flynn in the top 6 picks and Rubio and Derrick Williams were the only first-round picks that were still on the team after his four-year run ended.

Owner Glen Taylor tapped his confidante Saunders, who was fired in Minnesota in 2005, to bring some more basketball-related acumen back into the front office, and Saunders plunged into this draft with a focus on adding shooters around Rubio and All-Star Kevin Love. The Wolves shot an abysmal 30.5 percent on 3-pointers last season, almost six percentage points below the league average.

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