Shortly before the 2019 NBA Draft is set to begin with the New Orleans Pelicans on the clock, several teams are using their resources to move up in the lottery selection order.
One of them is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who originally had the No. 11 pick in the first round. The team was in line to get a solid player at that selection, with mock drafts projecting players such as Gonzaga teammates Rui Hachumura and Brandon Clarke to Minneapolis.
However, Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas was looking to make a splashy move for an impact point guard. And now, he’s done it by trading with the Phoenix Suns to move from No. 11 to No. 6, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Timberwolves Aiming for Darius Garland
Earlier on, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that Minnesota had its eye on Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland and he’s a likely target for that No. 6 pick. Yet it’s also possible that Garland could be gone by that selection, which is likely why Rosas was aiming even higher in trading up.
Garland only played in five games for Vanderbilt last season due to a torn meniscus. In that small sample, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound freshman averaged 16.2 points, 2.6 assists, nearly four rebounds and one steal per game while shooting 48 percent from 3-point range.
However, NBA teams aren’t worried about that injury, coveting his shooting, quickness and ballhandling skills. Givony currently has Garland going No. 5 to Cleveland in his updated mock draft. But Sports Illustrated and The Ringer both project Garland in that No. 6 spot, and NBA.com had him there when Phoenix still held the pick, so the Timberwolves could get their man.
If Garland is off the board (though he’s unlikely to go No. 4 to the Hawks, who already have Trae Young), Minnesota will likely select guard Coby White from North Carolina. In his lone season at Chapel Hill, White averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound point guard also shot 35 percent on 3-pointers, averaging nearly seven attempts.
White might not have the upside many see in Garland, but he’s bigger and arguably a more finished product who’s better demonstrated his performance. He’s currently projected to the Timberwolves by ESPN with several other mock drafts predicting Garland and White to go in consecutive picks. So it appears that Minnesota is in a good position to land one or the other with that No. 6 selection.