After finishing the season as one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves have successfully won the No. 1 pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA draft. However, instead of adding another young and promising prospect to their roster, they are expected to use that pick as their main trade chip to acquire an All-Star caliber talent that would help Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell carry the team next year. One of the most realistic trade targets for the Timberwolves this fall is Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers.
According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, the Timberwolves may consider sending a package that includes Jarrett Culver, James Johnson, and the No. 1 pick to the Pacers in exchange for Oladipo. The veteran shooting guard has yet to regain his All-Star form, but once he returns to his old self, he could form the NBA’s next “Big Three” with Towns and Russell next season. Aside from giving them a very reliable third scoring option, Buckley believes that the arrival of a multi-positional defender like Oladipo in Minnesota could ease the loads on Towns’ and Russell’s shoulders on the defensive end of the floor.
“How good would Oladipo look as part of basketball’s next Big Three? Assuming a return to full health—by no means a given considering he’s still feeling the effects of Jan. 2019 knee surgery—he might enjoy synergetic stardom with his new running mates. Oladipo is a better attacker than shooter. Towns and Russell are accurate enough from distance to keep defenders honest and open up attack lanes, but they are—how do we put this—not always the most willing defenders. Oladipo is a former All-Defensive first-teamer who can handle multiple positions and causes all kinds of havoc as an off-ball disruptor.”
Oladipo may not have shown a strong indication that he’s no longer happy in Indiana, but he would definitely be intrigued by the idea of teaming up with young All-Stars like D’Lo and KAT. If he meshes well with the two, the Timberwolves would have a realistic chance of beating Western Conference powerhouse teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Denver Nuggets in a best-of-seven series.
Meanwhile, if they couldn’t get an assurance that he will re-sign in the summer of 2021, trading Oladipo for Culver, Johnson, and the No. 1 pick would be a no-brainer for the Pacers. In exchange for the veteran shooting guard, they would be receiving two precious assets that could be part of their rebuilding plans. Johnson’s expiring contract would enable the Pacers to increase their buying power in the summer of 2021 when plenty of big names are expected to be available on the free agency market.