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Timberwolves have roster needs. Can they fill one in the draft?

Heading into Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the Wolves hold the No. 19 overall pick

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As Tim Connelly preps for his first roster transactions as Minnesota Timberwolves basketball boss with Thursday night’s NBA Draft, and beyond, there are certainly holes on the roster for him to fill.

It’s possible at least one of them could be addressed with the No. 19 pick Minnesota currently possesses. Here is a look at the team’s needs, and which prospects could potentially fill them should the Timberwolves keep the pick:

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Power forward

Why the need? Jarred Vanderbilt was fantastic at the starting four spot for large chunks of last season. His defensive intensity and high-energy plays swung games and helped set the tone for the team’s all-around improvement in areas that lead to winning.

But Vanderbilt did seem to wear down at times and wasn’t always Chris Finch’s preferred fit in certain lineups. He just turned 23 years old, so it might not be fair to put a lid on his growth, but Vanderbilt’s playing style and current offensive limitations may be better suited to averaging 20 minutes a game off the bench.

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That could leave a hole at power forward, where Minnesota needs more depth regardless. Jaden McDaniels is always an option to play as a small-ball power forward, but those lineups often leave the Timberwolves too small, and he seems best-suited to play out on the wing.

There are options at No. 19 who would help fortify Minnesota’s power forward platoon and could take over as the starter at some point next season.

Possible picks: Ohio State’s EJ Liddell, LSU’s Tari Eason, Serbia’s Nikola Jovic.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell (32) dribbles the ball as Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Lat Mayen (11) defends during the second half March 1, 2022, at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Joseph Maiorana / USA Today Sports

Center

Why the need? The Timberwolves could use a big center for a couple reasons. No. 1, Naz Reid continues to evolve into a skilled offensive player who seems to become more athletic with each passing season. But he’s also undersized and, thus, overmatched against certain opponents. Minnesota had few counters when those situations arose last season, so adding some type of more traditional big makes sense.

But if the move is simply to add a backup center, that might make more sense as a veteran acquisition through trade or free-agent signing.

There also is the possibility that Minnesota could change philosophies under Connelly and push Karl-Anthony Towns down to power forward. That would certainly create other issues, but would help solve Minnesota’s size and rebounding problems. Because right now, outside of Towns, the Wolves don’t have a guy who can be counted on to consistently crash the glass and vacuum up boards.

As of Monday, The Athletic reported the Timberwolves were at least sniffing around Hawks’ center Clint Capela. But if Minnesota decides to nab a starting five of the future on Thursday, there are a couple intriguing potential options who could serve as defensive anchors for years to come.

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Possible picks: Duke’s Mark Williams, Auburn’s Walker Kessler.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Jacksonville State vs Auburn
Jackson State Tigers forward Kelvin Wesley (23) shoots against Auburn Tigers forward Walker Kessler (13) during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament on March 18, 2022, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.
Bob Donnan / USA Today Sports

Playmaker

Why the need? While D’Angelo Russell’s future in Minnesota remains a relative unknown heading into this offseason, that doesn’t have much to do with this need. The Timberwolves were on the hunt for an additional playmaker as recently as the trade deadline.

The easiest way to break down a defense in any situation is having players who can attack the rim off the bounce. Anthony Edwards is elite at doing just that when he wants to, but outside of the star wing, Minnesota has few other options. Jaylen Nowell has those capabilities but hasn’t been able to carve out a full-time role in Minnesota’s rotation.

Whether it be at point guard or wing, the Timberwolves could use at least one more player who can attack the rack to create for himself and others.

Possible picks: Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley, Kentucky’s TyTy Washington, Ohio State’s Malaki Branham, Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Howard
Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Blake Wesley (0) dunks the ball against the Howard Bison during the first half Jan. 17, 2022, at Burr Gymnasium in Washington, D.C.
Brad Mills / USA Today Sports

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