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Through trades, Wolves draft talent for the present and future

Extended: Mike Max interviews Timberwolves' draft picks
Extended: Mike Max interviews Timberwolves' draft picks 08:32

By Julian Basena

MINNEAPOLIS -- Between the early-round surprises and unforeseen draft night moves, the Timberwolves managed to trade down and still close out the evening as a quiet winner of the 2022 NBA draft.

On his first draft day as president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly and his staff got busy. After trading down from their 19th spot and later in the second round, the Wolves walked away with a cache of players -- Auburn center Walker Kessler, Duke wing Wendell Moore, Memphis wing Josh Minott, and Italian guard Matteo Spagnolo -- that could be serviceable for a team that expects to push deeper into the playoffs.

And, despite being the subject of speculation around the league, D'Angelo Russell was not involved in any trades and still -- for now -- remains on the Timberwolves roster.

To get both Moore and Kessler, clear first round talents, the Wolves front office flipped the 19th pick for what ended up becoming the 22nd and 26th selections in the first round. A makeshift point guard and true center, respectively, Moore and Kessler fill two holes on the roster and make Minnesota a bit deeper. Minott and Spagnolo, however, look to be players for deeper in the future, as Minott is a raw prospect with considerable room to grow and Spagnolo is expected to spend another year in Italy to develop before joining the roster.

Aside from talent, high-character athletes were the main focus for Connelly and his staff heading into the draft.

"We felt like we got pieces that fit here culturally and hopefully can make us a better team," Connelly said after the draft.

2022 NBA Draft
Walker Kessler Getty Images

The Wolves' first selection, Kessler, has the potential to grow into a formidable paint presence if his character is as advertised. He's a 7-foot shot blocker -- he posted the best block rate in college since 2008 -- who makes Minnesota a little bit more defensively versatile. His size and aggression alone make the Wolves a better rebounding team.

North Carolina v Duke
Wendell Moore Jr. Getty Images

If his character is promising as well, Moore can have a similar impact as a do-it-all-ball-handler. He will likely be asked to start out as a passer and pick-and-roll threat before he grows into a more complete offensive talent. With the absence of true point guards at Duke, Moore started at the 1 frequently and helped lead the Blue Devils to the Final Four in his final year of college. Even as a five-star recruit, he's shown growth in each year of his basketball career out of high school.

The Wolves front office made do with their lone 19th pick and now have decent flexibility for their present and future. In just a month, Connelly has proved to be impactful in his new role.

"We were looking for guys that we can grow with long-term," Connelly said. "We don't want to put too much expectations on their ability to contribute right away. When you have a team that had as much success as we did, it's hard to put that on your shoulders."

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