The Minnesota Timberwolves Need a Shooting Guard

J.C. LilleheiContributor IIJanuary 8, 2012

NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  Wesley Johnson stands with NBA Commisioner David Stern after being drafted by The Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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When the Timberwolves drafted Wesley Johnson fourth overall in the 2010, they thought they were making the "safe" pick of the draft.They passed over the volatile DeMarcus Cousins in order to draft Johnson who was the consensus pick for "most-NBA ready.”  Johnson was one of the oldest players in the draft at 23 years old and had a successful collegiate career at Syracuse.

An explosive athlete who played above-average defense and could shoot, Johnson had a solid rookie campaign and was named to the All-Rookie 2nd team.However, just a few games into Johnson’s second season, I’ve seriously started to doubt him as a future part of the franchise.Johnson is old for a second year player. (Take into consideration the fact that Johnson is only a year younger than Martell Webster who has been in the league since 2005.)Johnson's minutes per game are dwindling, as he is shooting only 37.5 percent from the field this year. Without his six-for-six performance against the Spurs he would be shooting 7-29 (24 percent).

Johnson, who is naturally a small forward, has been forced to start at shooting guard in order to get him away from the logjam of forwards the Wolves have. But Johnson does not have the ball handling ability needed to be a guard and I see this as the reason why Johnson relies on his jumper so often. He simply does not attack the basket enough to be a good shooting guard, which is confounding considering how athletic Johnson is. 

Rick Adelman has obviously started to notice this trend as well, as he is playing Wayne Ellington more than Johnson. This brings me to the biggest question I have with the Wolves at the moment. Who is going to be the shooting guard of the future? Is Adelman going to play J.J. Barea with Ricky Rubio/Luke Ridnour at point guard? Maybe veteran Martell Webster can come back from his back injury and provide a spark. Perhaps rookie Malcolm Lee could be the solution; before Lee got injured he played well in the preseason. He is easily one of the best defenders on the team.Adelman seems to have settled on Ellington, who is more of a spot-up shooter rather than one to drive aggressively to the rim guard, for the moment. 

The Wolves need to sort this problem out—and this could be done in a number of ways. Personally, I think a trade for shooting guard would be the best option. Trade Wesley Johnson for someone like O.J. Mayo—and the rights to Memphis’ first-round pick this year. Mayo is young and a true shooting guard, which the Wolves are lacking.

The other options would be wait until the next draft or until free agency, but I think the Wolves want to start winning now, considering how long this rebuilding process has been.If the Wolves can secure a solid starting shooting guard who isn’t afraid to take a few risks and attack the basket, it will drastically improve the quality of the team.