CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Minnesota Timberwolves have now officially missed the playoffs 15 times in their past 16 seasons, including the current one.
The league’s Board of Governors approved a format Thursday where 22 teams will go to Orlando to play eight regular season games for seeding and then start the playoffs, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Timberwolves will not be one of the 22 teams in attendance. The league is slated to resume play July 31.
Per Wojnarowski, the draft lottery is now scheduled for Aug. 25; the draft will take place Oct. 15.
Despite the lack of a clear No. 1 pick, Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman sit atop the class. The lottery order isn’t set, but the Minnesota Timberwolves currently are the second-worst team in the Western Conference.
2019-20 Record and conference standing: 19-45, 14th in the West
Where they might pick: With the NBA’s draft lottery rules, the Timberwolves, Warriors and Cavs each have a 14% chance at earning the No. 1 pick. The Timberwolves cannot pick lower than seventh overall.
Starters right now: D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Karl-Anthony Towns, Josh Okogie, Juan Hernangomez
Key free agents this summer: Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe
Team needs: The Timberwolves are in a position where they truly need the best available prospect. As a low-tier team, Minnesota will have missed the playoffs 15 times in the past 16 seasons whenever the 2019-20 regular season officially ends.
With Towns and Russell as the centerpieces, the Timberwolves could use a player who can attack the rim at will. A player like Anthony Edwards could fit well alongside Towns and Russell. Georgia’s Edwards is one of the most athletic guards in the draft, and his driving ability could create space for Malik Beasley to shoot as well.
Beasley was traded from the Denver Nuggets to Minnesota in February, and he flourished before the season was suspended. In 14 games with Minnesota, Beasley has averaged 20.7 points per game and shot 47.2% from the field; he also has shot 42.6% from the 3-point line.
If they can’t snag Edwards, the Timberwolves should also set their sights on a wing or forward who can score. Former Memphis freshman Precious Achiuwa stands 6-9 and he projects as a power forward. His defense could allow him to play center in small-ball lineups. Achiuwa’s ability to play well in the pick-and-roll could elevate Russell, who is one of the league’s best playmakers.
How the Timberwolves’ needs affect the Cavs: The Cavs don’t need another guard like Edwards – they already have Darius Garland and Collin Sexton.
But a forward like Achiuwa could be beneficial. Kevin Porter Jr. plays on the wing, but he plays his best at shooting guard. Achiuwa shot 32.5% from the 3-point line on 1.3 attempts at Memphis last season, so his percentage would need to go up to have consistent success as a small forward.
Using him primarily in pick-and-roll actions would be the Cavs’ best immediate option if they were to pick him. He would have to start playing power forward, but he can put the ball on the floor, and drives well to the rim. Those are two qualities necessary for good roll men.
If the Timberwolves go guard, and the Cavs have the fourth pick for example, drafting someone like Achiuwa would be a solid pickup.