On Friday, the Minnesota Timberwolves took a big bite when they agreed to trade Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler and four future first-round draft picks to the Utah Jazz for All-Star center Rudy Gobert.
On the surface, some may feel this is a big get for the Timberwolves, as Gobert is an outstanding shot-blocker and rebounder, as well as a nice target under the basket offensively.
Rudy Gobert is headed to Minnesota trade details👇 pic.twitter.com/Osgl07RTCp
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) July 1, 2022
However, when one takes a closer look, it is a massive overpay for a player who may have a couple of tremendous strengths, but also has significant weaknesses.
In a vacuum, getting Gobert may help the Timberwolves, but getting him the way they did was a bad move.
Minnesota Mortgaged Its Future For The Wrong Guy
This past season, the Timberwolves arguably overachieved, finishing 46-36, making the playoffs and putting up a fight versus the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.
It certainly needed a few more pieces to take the next step, but is Gobert really one of those pieces?
Yes, his rim protection can help a team that ranked 13th in defensive rating, and he will help a team that was weak on the defensive boards (the T-Wolves ranked just 27th in defensive rebounding percentage).
But giving up so many first-round draft picks for a man who has never averaged at least 16 points a game for an entire season is overkill.
Even worse, three of the draft picks the T-Wolves gave up are unprotected, which means that one of them, especially the one that will come up in 2027, could turn into a lottery pick.
If Minnesota fails to build a perennial contender or even a perennial playoff team, it could come to regret trading away the type of capital that it could’ve otherwise used to augment its roster.
Gobert simply isn’t a reliable offensive option, and in today’s NBA, he is not an easy fit offensively, especially when the game slows down.
The fact that he has no perimeter shot to speak of may mean that he will clog the lane and make it hard for a player like Edwards to attack the rim, something which is his main strength.
Come playoff time, Gobert doesn’t seem to have the same effectiveness he does in the regular season.
Rudy Gobert makes $40+ million a year for four years and is a borderline liability in the playoffs. Honestly I would've considered getting off his deal for a modest return a win for Utah. This is lunacy. https://t.co/PB1hfur128
— Matt Carey (@RealMattCarey) July 1, 2022
How many times does Rudy Gobert need to be humiliated in the playoffs for the analytics acolytes to have some humility and admit their algorithms might not be 100% accurate?
— nick wright (@getnickwright) April 22, 2022
This Won’t Move The Needle A Whole Lot
Minnesota may gain several wins from having Gobert in the fold, but he won’t make them title contenders.
Other than Edwards and Towns, the team lacks offensive firepower, especially since D’Angelo Russell is such a low-efficiency player (he shot just 41.1 percent from the field in 2022).
But the rest of the Western Conference is going to get better, and there are too many teams that are better than the Timberwolves.
The Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets will be much better simply due to better health, and the Memphis Grizzlies could be better due to another year of growth and maturation.
The Los Angeles Lakers could swing a trade for Kyrie Irving, and the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns aren’t going anywhere.
More likely than not, it will be another first-round-and-out season for Minnesota in 2023.