Before we get started, is it okay to call someone who plays for the Minnesota basketball franchise a Timberwolf? I don't think I've ever seen it put like that but it seems logical.
Anyway, it was assumed that when the Minnesota Timberwolves took PG Ricky Rubio with the 5th pick in tonight's NBA draft, Jonny Flynn wouldn't even have to worry about his name coming up with their sixth pick. I mean, what would the T'wolves need with two star-in-the-making point guards? Well the Timberwolves didn't draft two point guards. They drafted three.
Jonny was taken with the sixth pick in the draft by Minnesota in a bit of a shocking pick. Not just because of the circumstances, but also because the "experts" have been saying for weeks that Jonny was heading to Sacramento...or Golden State...or New York...or Toronto...or Milwaukee. Minnesota seemed like the most unlikely of destinations for Flynn among the teams that held picks between #4 and #10 and yet...here we are. Flynn not only joins Rubio in Minnesota but also North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson whom was taken in with the 18th pick.
So what the hell is going on here?
Three first-round picks, three point guards. What gives? Based on the rumors that swirled all night, it was mostly understood that either Rubio or Flynn would be on the move. With a draft full of top tier point guards, surely the team that held the rights to two of them would be able to parlay one into something more need-oriented.
The rumor that stuck most was to send one of them to the Knicks. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), that guard wasn't going to be Jonny. Rubio to the Knicks for Nate Robinson and their first round pick Jordan Hill was the most likely scenerio. The snag was apparently in Robinson's free agent status.
But then word started to circulate that Rubio's father was telling anyone with a microphone that not only did Rubio not want to play in Minnesota, but he might just up and return to Spain for a year or two until he was free and clear. If true, that's telling. Because unless they are a collection of morons ( not out of the realm of possibility), the T'wolves drafted Rubio knowing full well that he didn't want to play there and in fact only drafted him as trade bait to dangle for one of the teams drafting behind them. At the moment, no one has officially bitten.
Now before we move forward it's worth noting that the third PG in this equation, Ty Lawson, has already been removed. Minny simply drafted him so they could trade him to Denver for a future draft pick. Good day sir. The Wolves also drafted Florida's Nick Calathes in the second-round but traded him as well.
So let's assume the trade doesn't happen. Now two of the point guards who were considered team leaders for different NBA squads will now be fighting for PT on the same court. This isn't the situation that Ricky Rubio, or Jonny Flynn, signed up for.
Check this out from True Hoop, in a post that says it all:
The day before the NBA draft, Ricky Rubio played word association.
I said "Sacramento," and he said "Nice weather."
I said "Oklahoma City," and he said "My best friend lives near there."
I said "Minnesota," and he said "Too cold."
Now as for his father's comments about Ricky returning to Spain instead of playing in Minnesota...who knows for sure (I trust the Spanish press the way the MSM trusts me). Still, Rubio has to consider the current situation a lose-lose. Not only does he go to a rebuilding franchise in bad shape and in bad weather but he's not even a sure-thing to be the best rookie point guard on the team.
...he gets to battle brutally strong, iron-tough, take-no-prisoners Jonny Flynn for the starting point guard job – provided he doesn’t spend another season in Europe. Rubio is a great talent with poise beyond his years, but this transition wouldn’t be fun for anyone.
True, it's not ideal for Jonny Flynn either but the more Rubio and his Dad whine, the better Jonny will look. Plus, whereas Rubio is still a little rough around the edges and might need more time to develop, Flynn is Big East battle-tested and ready to play now.
For his part, Flynn didn't flinch when his name was called. He was smiles all the way and his remarks afterwards were nothing if not glowing about the situation:
"You see the NBA going to a format with two point guards,'' Flynn said. "That's what the game is shifting to. It's good to have two facilitators that can make plays on the court. I think we can boost each other's level of play and I can't wait to go play with him.''
The little wrinkle thrown into the mix are the remarks made by Jim Boeheim earlier in the week and reitterated this morning about Rubio. Boeheim all but trashed Rubio's reputation on the court based on what he had seen in the Olympics. It was very likely driven by Boeheim's strong homerism and bias for Flynn, but there was certainly an agenda there as well. Rubio had to have heard about it. Is it something that will be in the back of his mind if he does suit up with Jonny. Will it be the extra chip on his shoulder? Who knows.
At the end of the day, let's stop to celebrate the good here. Flynn was drafted SIXTH in the NBA Draft, something that seemed unthinkable just a month ago. He was the first Orange player to be drafted in the lottery since Carmelo in 2003. And he was drafted ahead of Stephen Curry, Jrue Holliday and a few other point guards once considered to be "better" then him. Big thumbs up for Jonny and, though this situation doesn't seem settled yet, Jonny's at least on his way to a great NBA career.