The Minnesota Timberwolves are fresh off one of the best seasons in recent-franchise history, but this summer’s significance couldn’t be more apparent. Karl-Anthony Towns is soon to enter his prime, while Anthony Edwards looks poised to take the infamous Year 3 leap. And with the ownership group “desperately” hiring a number of well-respected front office members from around the league, it’s clear the Wolves are looking to improve this off-season.
With the draft over two weeks away and Minnesota hardly being a landing spot during free agency, fans and media members have already started looking at potential trades. The Wolves have been connected to Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby recently. But even though Anunoby appears to be a perfect fit for the team’s roster, Tim Connelly and Co. will need to consider if he’s worth Toronto’s asking price.
Last week, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that Anunoby has become discontent with his role in Toronto. The Raptors have a ton of wing depth. Since before the trade deadline, they have been rumored to be interested in trading for a rim-protecting center to pair alongside Pascal Siakam. However, when inquiring about a shot-blocking big, Minnesota would likely be Masai Ujiri’s last call, so the Raptors would need a third team to complete a deal.
Still, mock trades that send Anunoby to Minnesota have surfaced across the internet. The first comes from Canis Hoopus’s Aiden Berg, who proposed the following three-team trade:
- Wolves receive: SF OG Anunoby
- Raptors receive: C Rudy Gobert
- Jazz receive: SG Gary Trent Jr., SG Malik Beasley, 2022 first-round pick from MIN (No. 19 overall), 2024 first-round pick from TOR, 2022 second-round from MIN via WAS (No. 40)
The second comes from Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, who suggested trading Naz Reid to Toronto:
- Wolves receive: SF OG Anunoby
- Raptors receive: C Naz Reid, SG Malik Beasley, 2022 first-round pick from MIN (No. 19 overall)
Whether or not we can call Reid a “rim-protector,” the common denominator in both trades is clear: Malik Beasley and Minnesota’s first-round pick in this month’s draft.
But isn’t that too much for Anunoby?
Don’t get me wrong, I love OG’s fit alongside KAT, Ant, and D’Angelo Russell (assuming the Wolves don’t trade him). Anunoby is a 6’7″ versatile defender who shot 36.3% from three on over 6.5 attempts this season. He would be a massive upgrade over Beasley, who shot only 1.4% better from deep on just 1.5 more attempts than OG while also struggling defensively. I get it. Connelly pulling the trigger on either of the two trades above would be a steal for ‘Sota. But Anunoby has one major problem: availability.
In each of his last two seasons, Anunoby has only managed to play 91 games due to injury. That’s 25 fewer games than Malik Beasley, who only suited up for 37 games just two years ago due to a left hamstring injury. “Health is wealth,” as the old proverb goes, and the Western Conference will only get more challenging. Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, and Zion Williamson are set to return at the start of next season. For a Minnesota team that just barely missed finishing the regular season as a top-6 seed out West, the front office should focus on constructing a well-rounded, reliable team. (Let’s forget about Malik’s time in, uh, jail, shall we?).
On top of OG replacing Malik Beasley, the Wolves would have to send away their 2022 first-round pick. Sure, draft picks don’t always work out — especially ones outside of the lottery. With newly-appointed front office executives Tim Connelly and Matt Lloyd joining forces in Minnesota’s front office this off-season, trading away the team’s picks would only hinder the duo’s ability to showcase their proven draft knowledge.
If the Minnesota Timberwolves want to push past next year’s play-in tournament, they should be wary of what they give in exchange for OG Anunoby. While Malik Beasley is a defensive liability on a team looking to transition into a switch-heavy defensive scheme next season, he has proven to be a competent sharpshooter for a team that prides its offense on spacing. Still, Connelly and Lloyd have demonstrated to be some of the best in the business when it comes to drafting talent. Even though he hasn’t played more than 50 games in either of his two seasons, I’d still like to see OG suit up for the Timberwolves next season. But with Anunoby reportedly drawing interest from multiple teams around the league, Toronto may want more in return for the British baller than what the Wolves should offer them.