New wolves have skills to develop before they can contribute

New Timberwolves center Walker Kessler is the reigning Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, and on Tuesday, as he and two of his fellow draftees, Wendell Moore and Josh Minott, answered questions for the first time in As teammates, Kessler was asked if defense was still his forte. suit.

“It’s negative,” Kessler said. “In high school, I didn’t know what defense was. I was just a big talented offensive player, that’s all I did.”

Kessler understood that and became a first-round pick because of it. Kessler, Moore and Minott shook hands a lot and showed off their new jerseys in the lobby of Target Center as Wolves employees had an hour off to cheer on new members of the organization. It’s the first time Wolves have been able to stage a post-draft event like this since the pandemic, in part because they didn’t have a draft pick a season ago.

Now the hard part begins. It’s a Draft Class President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and Coach Chris Finch aren’t burdened with expectations to contribute immediately.

For the 7-1 Kessler, Auburn’s 22nd overall pick, he’ll work on adapting his defensive play to the NBA and learning how to improve his shooting by 20% from three-point range at the college line.

“I really focused on the mechanics,” Kessler said. “I walked away from that and its structure. I had a lot of inconsistencies with my shooting. Just being able to represent that form, I feel pretty good.”

Sitting to Kessler’s left was Moore, the Duke forward who was the 26th overall pick.

Moore struggled in his first two seasons with the Blue Devils, but took off in year three when he helped Duke to the Final Four.

“This past year I was much more confident in my game,” Moore said. “My teammates that I had around me obviously made it easier to step into that. You just have to put it all together. The game kind of slowed down for me. I was able to play it at my own pace. “

Moore improved his three-point shooting from 30% to 41% during his junior season, with Finch saying Moore is a player who can complement other great players well. That may be his value for a team with a core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell.

“Some players are built to be the guy and some players play better when there are better players around because the things they do don’t translate to a score sheet,” Finch said. “They can fill a lot of cracks. I think we like his game and he can be a hell of a secondary playmaker for us. … We think he’s someone who can become a top two-way player. “

Finch also sees a lot of things he can work with on offense with Kessler.

“He came and did shooting practice for us, he shot really well,” Finch said. “…He’s got good hands. I was watching a movie and he catches a lot of really tough passes. He does a good job of keeping the ball high and finishing.”

The 50th overall pick, Matteo Spagnolo, who will stay in Italy, was not on the scene. But Wolves selection at 45, Minott, who went to college in Memphis, was. Minott will join Kessler and Moore at Summer League in Las Vegas, where fans can see them in action together for the first of what Wolves hope to be on many occasions.

“Everyone dreams of it,” Minott said. “I don’t want to come here and be happy about it. I want to get accolades, championships and just really create a name and a franchise to remember.”