Report: Pistons, Timberwolves agree to pick swap

The Detroit Pistons made a significant move in the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft by trading with the Minnesota Timberwolves, as reported by The Athletic. In the trade, Detroit acquired the 37th overall pick from Minnesota and agreed to take Wendell Moore Jr., a product of Duke University, from the Timberwolves. In exchange, the Pistons gave up their own 53rd pick in the draft.

Wendell Moore Jr., 22 years old, was due to earn $2.53 million next season, making this move a cost-saving decision for the Timberwolves. Last season, Moore played sparingly off the bench, averaging less than a point per game in 25 appearances. Over his two-year tenure with Minnesota, he has averaged 1.1 points and 0.6 rebounds across 54 total games. Moore was originally a first-round draft pick (26th overall) in the 2022 draft by the Dallas Mavericks, later traded to the Houston Rockets and then to the Timberwolves the following day.

 RELATED: Timberwolves 2024 NBA Draft grade for Rob Dillingham trade

The Timberwolves made a bold move during the 2024 NBA Draft by trading up to acquire Rob Dillingham. However, the question remains: was the acquisition worth it?

The Minnesota Timberwolves had a stellar 2023-24 season, reaching the Western Conference Finals for only the second time in franchise history. Eager to find the missing piece for further success, they made a significant move in the 2024 NBA Draft by acquiring Rob Dillingham, a highly regarded guard from Kentucky and one of the draft’s top prospects.

In order to secure Rob Dillingham, Minnesota made what could be considered the most significant move of the draft. Despite not being scheduled to pick until 27th, they recognized Dillingham’s lottery-level talent and traded with the San Antonio Spurs to move up to the eighth overall pick. In this article, we will evaluate and grade Minnesota’s bold move.

State of the Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves boast an impressive starting lineup and solid depth heading into next season and beyond. They are particularly renowned for having the best big man rotation in the league.

Rudy Gobert, fresh off his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award, anchors their defense, while Karl-Anthony Towns, a four-time All-Star and the most prolific three-point shooting center in history (now playing power forward), adds versatility and scoring prowess. Off the bench, Naz Reid brings rare athleticism and scoring ability, earning him the Sixth Man of the Year accolade last season. Additionally, Jaden McDaniels, at 6-foot-9, stands out as one of the premier defensive wings in the NBA.

Yet, the standout player for Minnesota remains Anthony Edwards, who emerged during their recent postseason run as a dominant force in the league. The dynamic two-way player is not only seen as the future of the NBA but is already making a significant impact.

Despite their strengths, the Timberwolves’ weakest spot lies at point guard. While Mike Conley has been a valuable addition since his acquisition in early 2023, entering his age-37 season next year signals that his career clock is ticking, even with two seasons left on his contract.

Additionally, the Timberwolves face a depth challenge behind Mike Conley, especially given the need to manage the workload of the aging veteran wisely. This makes Rob Dillingham an ideal addition for Minnesota. Dillingham, a 19-year-old who played a single season at Kentucky, fills a critical role the team was looking to address.

A look at the Rob Dillingham pick

Timberwolves draft pick Rob Dillingham driving to the rack on Kentucky

Dillingham came off the bench for the Wildcats, making him well-suited for the sixth-man role he will likely assume early in his career with the Timberwolves. However, don’t be mistaken—Dillingham has star potential. Most experts considered him a top-10 prospect, with some even ranking him among the top five players in the draft.

If not for his smaller frame, the undersized guard might have been the consensus top player in the 2024 NBA Draft. At 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds, Dillingham’s size is considered a potential issue for defending professional-level players. Despite this, he is joining one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, surrounded by elite defenders like Rudy Gobert, Jaden McDaniels, Anthony Edwards, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who can compensate for any defensive shortcomings he may have.

Although Dillingham isn’t perfectly suited for NBA defense yet, he’s not incapable either. He will need to add strength, but he has demonstrated a decent defensive instinct.

Where Dillingham truly shines is on offense, which should excite Timberwolves fans. Regarded as the best pure scorer in the draft class, Dillingham is an exceptional athlete with electrifying speed and burst. His quick, twitchy movement style, combined with a variety of dribble moves, allows him to easily reach his desired spots on the court.

Dillingham boasts a comprehensive offensive skill set: a strong finishing ability at the rim, an impressive pull-up game, and excellent shooting from beyond the arc. Even against stronger defenders in the NBA, he is expected to be an elite scorer. Additionally, Dillingham displayed improved playmaking abilities at Kentucky, with his passing steadily getting better throughout his lone college season.

Dillingham will likely begin his career as a spark plug scorer off the bench, a role in which he should thrive from day one. Despite starting in this capacity, the young guard has star potential, adding another exciting piece to Minnesota’s young core. Dillingham has drawn comparisons to Darius Garland, and he has a legitimate chance to develop into a 20-plus point-per-game scorer in the future.

Analyzing the trade

The Timberwolves held the 27th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, but with Rob Dillingham’s talent, he was never going to fall that far, despite concerns about his size. Recognizing this, Minnesota made a logical move to trade up to the eighth pick.

The deal struck with the Spurs was remarkably cost-effective for Minnesota, costing them only a 2031 first-round pick and a 2030 draft pick swap option. This is a small price to pay for such a high draft selection, especially considering Minnesota’s successful pick.

The Spurs, who drafted Victor Wembanyama with the first pick last year and had previously added three first-round players (Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, and Blake Wesley), were already loaded with young talent. With the fourth pick already in hand this year (Stephon Castle), they saw adding another young player as overkill.

Minnesota capitalized on this, giving up a future pick swap and a distant first-rounder. They hope that by 2030 and 2031, they will still be a strong team, making those picks less valuable. Even if they aren’t a playoff team by then, the odds of those future picks being better than the eighth overall selection are slim.

With those assets being so far in the future, Minnesota has ample time to pursue a championship. If the acquisition of Dillingham contributes to that success, this trade will have been more than worth it.

Overall, the decision to trade up to the eighth pick and draft Dillingham were home-run moves for the Timberwolves. In fact, we would go as far as to say that the Dillingham deal was the best move of the first round, especially considering Minnesota was able to retain their 27th overall pick and draft Terrence Shannon Jr.


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