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NBA Draft: T-Wolves looking beyond Towns, Okafor at No. 1 ?

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NBA Draft: T-Wolves looking beyond Towns, Okafor at No. 1 ?

Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns. Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor. The debate over which player should be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft focused on those two big men long before the Minnesota Timberwolves won the lottery last month. With three weeks left before the June 25 draft, another player may have entered the mix.

Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell is a special talent with size, skill and upside for days. Most mock drafts slot the freshman either third to the 76ers or fourth to the Knicks. That includes the latest from ESPN's Chad Ford, who sent Russell to Philadelphia, after slotting Towns to Minnesota and Okafor to the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, it's what Ford wrote about the Timberwolves' possible debate that led to this and other NBA Draft blog posts. Former Wizards coach Flip Saunders is Minnesota's coach and general manager

Karl-Anthony Towns is the No. 1-ranked player on my Big Board. However, virtually all the signals from sources inside the Wolves point to Jahlil Okafor being Flip Saunders' favorite right now. That obviously can change as we get closer to the draft. ...And after watching Towns' workout Monday, I believe that the Wolves will figure this out in favor of Towns. ... And do not totally discount D'Angelo Russell here either. I am told Saunders is also a big fan and might be willing to move Ricky Rubio for the right deal.

The Timberwolves already own a few intriguing pieces, most notably small forward Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. One thing missing is a true interior threat. Towns is the better prospect of the two centers,  but Okafor is the superior offensive player. If Minnesota wants the kid from Duke over the freshman from Kentucky, few will raise eyebrows.

Many would if Russell is the call. Based on talent, those people might be wrong. Russell oozed production and potential during his lone season with the Buckeyes. However, even in this modern, perimeter shooting era, productive big men are a commodity and one tougher to find then guards.

It would indeed surprise if Minnesota goes small over big based on its current roster. Then again, when it comes to the draft, stranger things have happened.

[RELATED Grading Nene's play for 2014-15 season

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller analyze the Wizards' two picks the night of the draft.

They went in-depth on first round pick Troy Brown, Jr. and why the Wizards took him when some big names were still on the board. They also broke down why the Wizards chose to pick a draft-and-stash guy in the second round.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Ernie Grunfeld uses second round pick on draft-and-stash prospect Issuf Sanon

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USA Today Sports

Ernie Grunfeld uses second round pick on draft-and-stash prospect Issuf Sanon

The Washington Wizards selected international prospect Issuf Sanon with the 44th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Like Wizards first round pick Troy Brown, Sanon is just 18 years old and does not turn 19 until Oct. 30. President of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said that Sanon is a draft-and-stash prospect and will play at least the following year for Olimpija, a professional team in Slovenia.

Here’s what you need to know about Sanon:

Height: 6-4

Weight: 172

2017-18 stats: 20.5 mpg, 6.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 42.9 FG%, 28.3 3PT%, 50 FT%

*Sanon is a defensive-minded combo guard that is not expected to be ready for the next few years. However, he thrived defensively, allowing just 0.471 points per isolation possession, according to the NBA. That ranks in the 92nd percentile. In the past two seasons in Ukraine’s second division, Sanon averaged 4.6 steals per game.

*While playing in the 2017 U-18 Euros for the Ukrainian National team last summer, Sanon broke out, averaging 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.4 steals per game. 

*During the middle of the 2017-18 season, Sanon changed teams. He moved from Ukraine’s Dnipro to the more competitive Olimpija in Slovenia.

*The biggest area of improvement for Sanon is developing his offensive game further. While he is just 18 and very raw, Sanon’s numbers have dipped since his move to Olimpija, especially shooting wise. Sanon’s strength comes in transition and his 6-4 frame helps him when slashing to the rim.

*Though he will not play for the Wizards anytime soon, he will come to the United States and play on the Wizards’ Summer League team.